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Fil-Am author makes it to US bookstore Barnes & Noble

Maridol Ranoa-Bismark - The Philippine Star
Fil-Am author makes it to US bookstore Barnes & Noble
Angeli Rafer
Angeli Rafer

MANILA, Philippines — Growing up with Filipino parents exposes you to a culture rooted in superstition, ghosts, myths and legends. 

US-based Angeli Rafer, whose book, "Ghosts Don’t Eat Potato Chips," stands proudly among other literary finds at Barnes & Noble, is a classic example. Her mom claims a dwarf lived in their home back in the Philippines. She even warned Angeli and her brother against disturbing the creature’s favorite tree to keep the dwarf from pulling a prank on them.

Several relatives claim being stalked by an "aswang" — disguised as a dog or cat — and catching sight of its distinct, blood-sucking tongue.

Like most Filipinos, she grew up hearing the story of the “White Lady of Balete Drive,” who hails cab drivers along the well-known street in Quezon City. The driver’s blood would suddenly run cold when he sees that his beautiful passenger is covered with blood and bruises. The age-old story says that the lady died in a car accident along – where else –  Balete Drive.

 A related story has it that motorists glimpse a ghostly face in their rear view mirror when they veer off the road at night.

Then, there’s the spooky stories comic series "Trese" by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo, and the book "Marikit and the Ocean of Stars" (Caris Avendaño Cruz), children’s story about a girl who ventures on a quest for the world of gods and spirits to save her family.

These, a love for storytelling and reading, made book writing as natural as breathing for the young author. Angeli’s horror comics stories were featured in  Hellcat Press’ anthologies like "Dark Lady Returns" and "Screams Heard Round the World."

"Ghosts Don’t Eat Potato Chips" is the third graphic novel adaptation of the classic Adventures of the Bailey School Kids children’s book series, which follows the eponymous Bailey School kids as they encounter supernatural — and silly — encounters with creatures from myths and legends in their hometown of Bailey City. It tells the story of Eddie and Howie, who visit the former’s great-aunt Mathilda. Howie sees a shadowy face in the window. When his potato chips start to form mysterious trails -- the Bailey School kids are spooked.

Scholastic Graphix, which has been publishing engaging graphic novels for kids and teenagers since 2005, reached out to Barnes & Noble to get Angeli’s book stocked in their stores. The famous bookstore liked what they read. Today, Angeli’s friends and family can now point out her book on the shelves and say, “I know the author!”

The author is happy, of course. And she’s confident that her book – along with other new releases this fall -- will be available in the Scholastic Book Fair catalog that appears every so often throughout the US school year. But Angeli admits she is more excited to see "Ghosts" make an appearance at indie bookstores.

“Indies are so important to build long-term relationships with customers. It supports the creativity of local authors and serves their communities in personalized ways that chain bookstores might not be able to do,” she explained.

Meanwhile, she’s looking forward to writing more children’s stories.

Angeli’s novel, "Dragons Don’t Eat Pizza,"  still with Scholastic Graphix, will be published in March 2024  Her other graphic novels are waiting in the wings.

That’s great news for fans of children’s stories, and Fil=Am writers dreaming of seeing their creations hit prestigious bookstores like Barnes & Noble.

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