Into the Unknown: An Interview with Mari Mancusi



Sisters Elsa and Anna fondly remember their father, Agnarr, telling them a story about their grandfather establishing a treaty with a neighboring tribe, which set the stage for the 2019 film Frozen II. The film shares more details about the former king and queen, Iduna, and makes the audience wonder what else they don’t know yet about the parents of their favorite princesses. In Mari Mancusi’s book, Dangerous Secrets: The Story of Iduna and Agnarr, the story of their teenage years come to life.

Mancusi got her start in television news production before deciding she wanted to share more happy endings than sad ones. She began publishing novels and has now written more than 20 for kids, teens and adults.

A few years ago, Disney Hyperion acquired the rights to her original middle-grade novel, The Camelot Code: The Once and Future Geek, as well as its sequel and published both of them. As an avid Disney fan, this was a dream come true.

“I remember thinking it was so cool to see the Disney logo on one of my books,” she said.

From working at the Disney Store during college to moving to Orlando to be closer to Walt Disney World, Mancusi has always embodied the magical spirit of Disney and put that magic into Dangerous Secrets.

“...To be asked to write a novel for their number one animation franchise was definitely a next level Disney dream come true!” she said. “And, I’m happy to say, working with the studio and my editor did not disappoint or take away from any of the magic.”

After reading the script for the second Frozen film, Mancusi’s editor came up with the original idea for Dangerous Secrets. Since Iduna and Agnarr’s backstory is only hinted at in the film, they wanted to answer all the questions that came to mind after leaving the theater. During the process of creating it, Mancusi shares that she fell in love with them as she dove into their story.

“They are complicated, flawed, but ultimately loving and heroic in their own ways, overcoming seemingly impossible odds,” she said. “I think readers will see a lot of Elsa and Anna in them as they read the book.”

Creating this novel was different from her previous work as this time around she worked with her editor and the filmmakers to make sure no stone was left unturned. She hopes readers walk away with a greater understanding of Elsa and Anna’s parents and what they conquered in order to make them the parents they were.

Although the storyline of Iduna and Agnarr is complete, Mancusi hopes that more character development is shared similar to her novel or the short film Once Upon a Snowman. (She personally has a lot of questions about Kristoff’s backstory - What happened to his parents? How did he get adopted by the trolls? What was it like living with the trolls? Why did he have such a chip on his shoulder when he first met Anna? What was their courtship like in the intervening years of Frozen 1 and 2 that led to his eventual proposal?) Whatever happens next for the characters of Frozen, it’s sure to be filled with warm hugs.