An interview by Kirstie Myvett and Ana Siqueira
KM: Hi Ana, congratulations on your latest book, If Your Babysitter Is a Bruja. What inspired you to write this Halloween story?
AS: This story is based on a real story that happened to me, but it wasn’t during Halloween. I guess the Halloween was something I included to add some spookiness, but I believe this is a book you can read the whole year.
My story: One day I was at the beach with my three-year old daughter. She didn’t want to leave. I had to use my teacher’s voice to say - We need to leave NOW! And that’s when she started yelling and crying for three blocks - walking - that I was not her mom. I was a witch. Imagine my embarrassment. So that was the inspiration for my story.
KM: Holiday stories seem to be very popular. How long were you on submission with this book and what was the process in getting it signed?
AS: I revised this book while taking a class at Children’s Book Academy. In the end of the class, there was a showcase. Alyza Liu, the editor from Simon&Schuster asked to see it. My agent submitted it to her. She replied within a month. We closed the deal a few weeks later and after a few months everything was signed.
KM: There are many Spanish terms in the book that children will have fun learning. Is this something you include in all of your stories? If so, why?
AS: I am a Spanish teacher and my blended family speaks Spanish, English and Portuguese. I believe learning Spanish in this country is so important. So my goal is to 1: motivate everyone to learn this beautiful language 2. Make the children who speak this language to be proud of their cultural and heritage.
KM: Halloween is often categorized in the scary holiday category but you’ve depicted a really fun story for children. Tell us why you chose that depiction vs. scary/horror?
AS: I wanted to show that we shouldn’t judge people or brujas based on stereotypes. I believe in this book, each reader can decide if the babysitter is a real bruja or it’s all imagination. But no matter what, they will see she is nice and sweet. So, don’t judge a bruja by her sombrero.
KM: Irena Freitas’ illustrations are bright and lively. What did you think when you first saw them and did you offer illustrator notes for this project?
AS: I had some art notes since the girl is an unreliable narrator. But Irena did much more than I expected. Through all the details and the character’s expressions, Irena made us dive into her imagination and live an aventura with her.
KM: How are you spending Halloween this year? Are you having any public readings or signings?
AS: I have a lot of events at libraries, bookstores and schools. It will be super fun. I will be doing an event online with the Miami Library, if anyone is interested in coming.
KM: What project(s) are you working on next?
AS: I have some other books coming out. But the project of my heart now is a story, based on my experience as a domestic violence survivor. And yes, it’s a picture book. I believe we can write about any topic if we can make it understandable and relatable to the little ones.
Ana Siqueira is an award-winning author from Brazil who cackles but doesn’t wear hats. When not flying with brujas, she teaches Spanish to adorable little ones, where she casts a learning spell that nobody can resist.
Some of her books are BELLA’S RECIPE FOR DISASTER/SUCCESS (Beaming Books, 2021) IF YOUR BABYSITTER IS A BRUJA/ CUANDO TU NIÑERA ES UNA BRUJA (SimonKids,2022), BOITATA: SNAKE OF FIRE (Capstone 2023), ABUELA’S SUPER CAPA/LA SUPERCAPA DE ABUELA (HarperCollins 2023), OUR WORLD BRAZIL (Barefoot 2023), ROOM IN MAMI’S CORAZON (HarperCollins 2024).