We are thrilled to welcome yet another author to our Multicultural Children’s Book Day Spotlight: Shining the Light on Inclusive Authors & Illustrators series! This week we are welcoming Tracey Baptiste, author of The Jumbies (Algonquin Young Readers, 4/28/14, Ages 8-12). THE JUMBIES (coming Spring 2015)
Caribbean island lore melds with adventure and touches of horror in The Jumbies, a tale about Corinne La Mer, a girl who on All Hallow’s Eve accidentally draws a monstrous jumbie out of the forest, sparking a very personal war that only she can stop – a war made even more difficult once she discovers her own dark truth. Tracey is the author of the YA novel Angel’s Grace and 7 non-fiction middle grade books. Her latest novel is due out from Algonquin in spring 2015. It is a creepy middle grade called The Jumbies. She also works as an editor making great non-fiction books for children.
Question 1: What is your favorite letter of the alphabet and why?
My favorite letter of the alphabet…I’ve never thought about that. The first one that comes to mind is “Q” because poor thing just doesn’t get used that much. Plus it almost always needs a little help from “U” and rarely goes out in the wild alone. Q strikes me as a little guy, who is complicated and particular and maybe a little more sophisticated than the other kids in class, but still needs an adult’s hand to cross the street.
Question 2: What do you want readers to know about your latest book?
Guys, this book is spooky. It’s like curl up under the covers and open your eyes real big spooky. But it’s also fun and adventurous—with cliffhangers! I mean on ACTUAL CLIFFS. Also, it’s a fairytale like you’ve never seen before. It’s from the Caribbean, where I was born and raised, where the fairy stories have really, REALLY weird creatures who are absolutely out to get you, but who can be defeated if you are clever and make a good plan and have awesome friends by your side.
Question 3: As an author, how do you know when you have discovered an idea for your next book?
I get super excited when I hit on a new idea. Then I think about it for a long time, and more ideas come and stick to the first idea like a magnet. It gets to a point where I can’t hold all the little bits of ideas in my head anymore, and I feel tingly all over, and I have to start writing. That’s how I know I have my new story. Of course, this does not mean that story will work out. I have had lots of moments like that, and then after I have the story written down, even after I have worked on it for a while, I might realize that it’s not a story that’s really going anywhere. It’s fine. I don’t mind those. I like writing even when things don’t work out.
Question 4: What was the catalyst for creating your latest book?
The idea to write The Jumbies came from a Haitian folktale I read when I was in graduate school at NYU. It was called The Magic Orange Tree. It’s a Cinderella-type story with an evil stepmother and a girl who needs a little magical help. I was obsessed with Cinderella stories at the time, so it stood out, but also it was a fairytale from the Caribbean, and I had been longing for fairytales that had the creatures I knew as a little kid. So I set out to bring in all the creepy creatures that I grew up hearing about in bedtime stories in Trinidad into this story. It took a long time to write this story. I worked on it off and on for almost nine years. It was tricky! But jumbies are very tricky, so I should not have been surprised that it would be hard to put them into a book.
Question 5: What’s next? What projects/books/events do you have in the works that you would like to share?
I’m working on two different stories right now. There are no jumbies in either. One of them is a fantasy with a robot and a kooky scientist. The other is a futuristic fairy tale about a perfect world that maybe isn’t as perfect as people would like to think. I’m at the beginning of both, so I don’t have many details. Things often change as I write, and by the time I get to the end of them, they might not even be about a robot, or a perfect-ish world. By the time I get to the end, one of these stories might be about an elephant who forgets everything! Wait. I think I have a new idea for a book…I’m getting tingly.
To learn more about Tracey and her books, check out her official website HERE.
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