Six Questions with Ana Siqueira
Ana Siqueira is a Spanish-language elementary teacher, an award-winning Brazilian children’s author, and a published author in the Foreign Language educational market.
Her debut picture book is Bella's Recipe for Disaster/Success (Beaming Books, 2021), Her most recent book is If Your Babysitter is a Bruja/Cuando Tu Ninera es una Bruja (SimonKids, 2022). And there's more: Abuela's Super Capa/La Super Capa de Abuela (HatperCollins) will be out in 2023 and Room in Mami's Corazon (HarperCollins) releases in 2024. Ana is a member of SCBWI, Las Musas Books, and co-founder of LatinxPitch. Visit Ana's website to learn more about her and her books.
1. How did you begin your journey as an author?
Since I was a little child I loved writing and imagining stories. I used to have horror stories sessions with my siblings. But I started writing with the intention to publish in Brazil when I was in my twenties. I got two books published and one award. Then I stopped when I moved to this country. I decided to go back to writing in 2019 after writing so many fun stories in Spanish to teach my students and getting El Pato Quiere Uvas published by the educational publisher Teacher’s Discovery.
2. What was your favorite book when you were a child? Why?
My favorite books were David Copperfield and Heidi and, from Brazil, Meu Pe de Laranja Lima. I loved books where the characters struggled with sadness and depression. And now, I write humor. Go figure, right?
3. What kind of student were you? What were your favorite subjects?
I was always the protector. I got in trouble many times because I felt like it was my job to protect children from unfair teachers. And when you are young, every teacher seems unfair.
I also struggled with ADHD. I never had a notebook. I lost all my notes. I forgot my homework. But, somehow, I was still a good student. I guess my parents wouldn’t allow me to get bad grades.
4. Where did you get the idea for If Your Babysitter is a Bruja? What was your inspiration?
My inspiration for stories is most of the time from my own experiences or my children’s or grandchildren’s experiences. So, this one was inspired by my daughter. One day, when we were in Brazil, at the beach and after she asked me for one more dive, I had to be strict and use my teacher’s voice to say: No, no more. We must go now. And so we left. But for three long blocks, I had to push her while she cried, “You’re not my mom. You’re a witch. I want my mom.” Luckily, most people in my neighborhood knew me. But imagine my embarrassment. Thirty years later, I was able to write that story.
5. What was the process or timeline for this book, from idea to publishing?
I started writing it in 2019. It went through many revisions. In the same year, I took a class with Children’s Book Academy. In the end, we could showcase our stories to editors and agents. Three editors liked my pitch. But right after the class, I got an offer for my first book - Bella's Recipe for Success -- and an agent. My agent submitted my bruja story to one of the editors who liked it. And the editor, who was Alyza Liu from Simon & Schuster bought it in 2020. The book came out earlier this year. So, it took about three years, which is not bad for the publishing world.
6. If you read this book to a room filled with kids, what message would you want them to leave with?
First of all, I want them to giggle and have fun. Then, I want them to learn this important message: Don’t Judge a Bruja by Her Sombrero. When getting to know someone, it’s easy to judge them based on appearances or a few actions, but as Chekhov said, “We all have too many wheels, screws, and valves to judge each other on first impressions or one or two pointers. I don't understand you; you don't understand me and we don't understand ourselves.”