Author Spotlight: Tracy Badua
April 15, 2022
We are excited to feature debut middle-grade author Tracy Badua and her debut middle-grade novel FREDDIE VS THE FAMILY CURSE (Clarion Books) out on May 3, 2022. Enter to win a copy!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
I’m Tracy Badua, a Filipino American attorney and author of the upcoming middle-grade novel contemporary fantasy Freddie vs. the Family Curse, out May 3, 2022, from Clarion Books. Growing up, I was that kid who stapled together printer paper and wrote stories about my stuffed animals. I sold them to neighbors for a quarter or two, and my grandma held on to a few too.
In addition to books for middle-grade readers, I also write for young adults. And having written for a whole spectrum of ages, I find that writing for middle grade and young adult readers is far more fun and interesting than writing for other attorneys. For example, I get to make all sorts of stuff up in my novels, a practice generally frowned upon in the legal setting.
Congrats on your MG debut, Freddie vs. the Family Curse! Tell us about the story and what inspired you.
Thank you! Freddie vs. the Family Curse is about a 12-year-old Filipino American boy who must team up with the ghost of his great-granduncle to break a family curse or risk being trapped in an amulet forever. The story draws heavily from the history, superstition, and folklore I grew up with. For example, the war-time experiences of Freddie’s great-grandmother and great-granduncle are based on those of my own elders, who sought safety in the forest from invading forces during World War II or were forced to walk miles and miles to prison camps in the Bataan Death March. In our home in California, my grandmother cautioned against sweeping up at night because we’d “sweep out the fortune,” a ritual enforced in Freddie’s household too. And I, like my characters, have had the disappointment of opening a Danish butter cookie tin and finding sewing supplies instead of delicious cookies.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
Something in between. I started writing with the goal of traditional publication six years ago, and I initially began with picture books. As my writing journey progressed and my focus moved to middle grade, I really began to dig into the story that would become Freddie vs. the Family Curse. Fast forward to connecting with my current agent, Natalie Lakosil, whom I knew through my long-time critique partner and friend Alechia Dow. Natalie saw promise in this story about a cursed Filipino American boy, and after a couple rounds of edits, I crossed my fingers and we sent it out to editors. Freddie was acquired by Amy Cloud at Clarion Books, and I’m excited to see it out in the world in May.
What are some of your favorite classic MGs? recent ones?
I’ll always be a fan of the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and I remember combing the library for every Goosebumps book I could get my hands on (which is funny to me now because I’m a total scaredy-cat who changes the channel when a horror movie commercial comes on). Lately, I recommend to everyone Jessica Kim’s hilarious Stand Up, Yumi Chung!, Alyssa Colman’s magical The Gilded Girl, and everything by Erin Entrada Kelly and Ellen Oh.
What projects are you working on now?
My contemporary young adult novel This is Not a Personal Statement comes out Winter 2023 from Quill Tree Books. This follows a teen who leaves home for the college of her dreams...that she wasn't actually accepted to, breaking into dorm rooms, dodging security, crashing classes, and figuring out how to actually get in next semester before she's caught.
I’ve also been hard at work on my second middle-grade book. It’s also a contemporary fantasy, and it involves celebrity chefs, Filipino folk magic, and a family-owned food truck!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Read plenty of recently published books in the age range and genre you’d like to write in, and do so thoughtfully. I know, this sounds like work when you’re just trying to relax and enjoy a good story, but push yourself a step further and really analyze the book. What lessons can you take in your own writing? Pay attention to how the author laid out their story: where they chose to begin, ramp up, and end. How did they make you connect with the main character? If there was a tough or sensitive issue that you think the author tackled well, focus on how they approached it and the nuances in the language they used. All of those little gems of knowledge you’ve internalized will get a chance to shine when you sit down with your own work.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I didn’t realize until an embarrassingly late point in my life that the word “mischievous” is pronounced mis-chiv-us and not mis-chee-vee-us! Come on, Tracy, just look at how it’s spelled!
Where can people find you online?
Tracy Badua is a Filipino American author of books about young people with sunny hearts in a sometimes stormy world. By day, she is an attorney who works in national housing policy and programs, and by night, she squeezes in writing, family and pup time, and bites of her secret candy stash. She lives in San Diego, California, with her husband, family, and photogenic Maltese.