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Today we’re chatting with Tracy Badua, the author of
FREDDIE VS. THE FAMILY CURSE
Freddie Ruiz is cursed.
While other people may have bad days, Freddie and his family have had bad generations: from bird poop splatting on him during picture day to the many tumbles and trips that earned him the nickname Faceplant Freddie. He’s learned to lay low and keep himself out of trouble—which means no fun, no friends, and definitely no risks.
But when he discovers a family heirloom, a century-old amulet from the Philippines that’s supposed to bring good fortune, Freddie thinks his luck is finally about to change.
He couldn’t be more wrong. Because the spirit of Freddie’s cranky great-granduncle Ramon is trapped in the heirloom, and the evil spirits responsible for his death have returned with a vengeance. Now, Freddie and his cousin, Sharkey, have thirteen days to break the curse, or Freddie will join Ramon for an untimely afterlife in the amulet.
Let’s talk to this fantastic author about her tremendous book!
This is Tracy. Everyone say, “Hi, Tracy!”
Welcome to Kick-Butt Kidlit, Tracy! Tell us about yourself!
Thanks for having me! I’m Tracy Badua, author of the contemporary fantasy middle grade novel Freddie vs. The Family Curse, which came out in May from Clarion Books. I also have a young adult book coming out in January 2023 (This is Not a Personal Statement, from Quill Tree Books), and I do write for adults in my day job as an attorney, but that’s a little less fun than writing for kids.
What was the inspiration behind FREDDIE VS. THE FAMILY CURSE?
Back in 2017, Filipino World War II veterans were finally awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their service, and I remember watching the livestream of the Washington DC event from my home in San Diego. It was then that I got this very vague idea of a World-War-II-era item needing to be returned to its owner, and I wrote down a quick note about it in an old notebook that I still have lying around here somewhere. Then I combined that idea with some supernatural elements, and Freddie started coming together.
Wow – that is so cool! Love the amazing roads a vague idea can take you down!
We love hearing stories about ‘The Call’ here on Kick-butt Kidlit. What were you doing when you found out your book had sold?
When I got the call from my agent, Natalie Lakosil, to let us know we had our first offer, I was working! I had to send her to voicemail because I was in a meeting, but I was anxious every single second until I got a chance to call her back.
What were three interesting things you discovered while working on FREDDIE VS. THE FAMILY CURSE?
1) Freddie involves an anting-anting, an amulet that’s believed to bestow good luck, protection, or even magical abilities on the owner. I knew about bits of Filipino folklore like this from stories from my childhood, and I was surprised to find out how much it all varies from community to community in the Philippines. One story can have an amulet bringing good luck, for example, whereas a similar story from a couple towns over could have an amulet making someone almost invincible!
2) One of my aunts remembers reuniting with my grandfather after the Bataan Death March. It was a stunning reminder that what we consider “history” isn’t that far off after all.
3) Trying to do a breakdancing spin is hard. Um, don’t ask me how I know.
Haha! Okay, no asking how you know…but was there video?
If you could transport your characters across book dimensions, which book would you most like them to end up in and why?
I think Freddie and Sharkey would love the spooky fall fun of Kalyn Josephson’s upcoming middle grade, Ravenfall. They’re both used to dealing with spirits (both the friendly kind and the maybe-not), and who wouldn’t love a nice mug of apple cider at a magical inn?
Why were you drawn to writing middle grade?
There’s something wonderful about approaching the world from the perspective of middle-grade characters. The things that are important to them and this target age of readers can be so different from the things that adults stress out about, and it’s refreshing and sometimes heartbreaking.
Any hints about your next book project?
I’m currently waiting on copyedits for my second middle grade book! It’s a contemporary fantasy like Freddie, and it involves celebrity chefs, Filipino folk magic, and a Filipino-Indian-fusion family-owned food truck.
What has been the most surprising part of your publishing journey?
It’s so cool to have kids tell you they like your work! Yes, it’s amazing to have older readers offer polite words too, but young readers definitely tell you how it is, and, so far, they’ve been kind and full of praise.
That is for sure one of the best parts! Kid readers are awesome!
What are you reading right now?
I am so late to this game, but I’ve been devouring Shannon Messenger’s Keeper of the Lost Cities series, and it’s wonderful!
What’s your favourite piece of kick-butt advice?
Find good critique partners, especially those who are talented in areas that you may struggle with. I consider myself so lucky to have wonderful writer friends who take the time to provide thoughtful feedback (even if they know it’s something I—or any writer— may not want to hear), remind me to slow down and actually describe important things like setting or what characters look like, and let me vent or ask questions about the publishing process.
Yes! Having people you can talk to throughout the process is SO important.
Thank you so much for joining us, Tracy!
Kick-butt Kidlit friends, make sure you check out FREDDIE VS. THE FAMILY CURSE!
It’s on shelves now!
Click here to enter to win a copy of FREDDIE VS. THE FAMILY CURSE!
Contest closes Friday, September 16th at 11:59 pm EST
Thanks for reading!