I'm so, so excited to have this Q & A with Francesca Lia Block.
The last few questions are my favorite, and her answers are beautiful. I'm honored to have had this opportunity.
If you don't know what this is, read my quick Intro!
About Her Self
Ellie (me) : I've read a lot of things about the different kinds of work you do. What do you do in your spare time? Right now, I'm terribly obsessed with Almond croissants, Adventure Time, and the website JukePop; Do you have any crazy guilty pleasures?
Francesca : Let’s see…Vegan gluten free pizza, Ruben sandwiches and sushi rolls from Sage restaurant in Culver City, tarot readings from The Oracle of Los Angeles, black skinny jeans with pink metallic high top sneakers, Instagram (dangerousangelena) and Pinterest, collaborating on screenplays based on my work, (collaborating with Elgin James on Weetzie Bat screenplay and with Danishka Esterhazy on a short from The Rose And The Beast), dark faerie tales, The Principles Of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman, having pot luck dance parties at the faerie cottage after my writing workshops, my dog, Elphi, and my beautiful, amazing children.
E : I know that you are a big supporter of equal, human rights, which is fantastic. Are there any other causes you feel particularly strong about?
F : Human rights covers a lot of it, but I also feel strongly about caring for the environment.
E : It [was] Christmas-time! Any big plans for the winter solstice holidays? What kinds of things do you celebrate?
F : We celebrate a little Hanukkah, a little Christmas and a little pagan solstice. I mostly stayed at home watching movies with my kids and my dog. I also had a little party with fairy lights, Indian food and some of my favorite friends. I don’t make resolutions but I do work hard on a daily basis to take care of myself and my children, be a loving, peaceful person, do my work.
E : I've heard your books described in a million different ways by you and your readers -- almost always on point! -- but how would you describe yourself? Your life?
F : My life? Well, it’s been very rich. I’ve had a lot of joy and a lot of loss. A lot of magic and a lot of reality. Dark and light. So I’m a magical realist. A punk faerie. A mom and a lover and a writer and a teacher/mentor and a yogi and a dancer in my heart. Love is my guide.
About The Craft
E : What do you love about writing, and your writing career as a whole? Do you wish you'd done anything differently in your life, writing, or career?
F : I love being able to express my feelings in my work; it’s very cathartic. And I love sharing my work with others. I’ve made so many friends through my writing. When I’ve reached out via social media (for readers, students, filmmakers or models for my T-shirt line) I’ve received responses from the most creative and wonderful people I could imagine.I do wish I’d gotten my MFA when I was younger but when I was coming in as a writer it wasn’t as essential in terms of getting published.Plus, I was very lucky to get published early and needed to focus on my writing at that time. But I’ve learned a lot from writing and especially from teaching, which I also love. I was fortunate to have a family who supported my work but I find that most of my students didn’t have that (usually parents understandably want security for their children) so I try to be that support for them.
Weetzie Bat Tee
E : As someone who's been in the industry for over two decades, what are a few aspects of the modern publishing world that you have had trouble with or wish were different? Have things changed for the better or worse since you started writing?
F : Things have become much more difficult. It’s very hard to get book deals these days.The one good thing is that people can self publish and self promote using social media so it allows for more creativity in that sense, and more community. but to self publish successfully you need a strong following.
I recommend that writers who are considering self publishing start a blog and find unique ways to market themselves before they put out a book.
E : One of the things I've always loved about your work is that so many of the important, complicated things in life are seen in a beautiful, magical way, but still so realistically complex. The relationships in The Elementals and Echo come to mind right away. The romance in these books are often deep and magical, while still being grounded in the very common complexities of issues like trust, abuse, layers of sexuality, and struggles with self-identity. I -- and many of your readers, I'm sure-- connect to the problems and complex desires in these relationships on a very personal level.
via goodreads.comIf it's not too personal of a question; when you're writing about love and sex what experiences, hopes, and/or desires do you pull from to make such vibrant portraits?
F : It’s not too personal! I take everything from my life and add to it to make it an interesting story, which usually means increasing the tension and conflict and developing the arc of the characters.
E : A big draw for me when I first started really getting into your books was the beautiful excess of sensory descriptions. Food caught my attention a lot and I've even made blog posts just about the types of food in each book. But all of the descriptions of sights, smells, and tastes are really fantastic and pull the reader into your worlds in very unique ways. Is that writing style -- so lush and sense-driven -- very intentional? Or is it more organic, happening pretty naturally as you write?
F : I tend to write in a sensory way naturally but in rewriting I always try to add more evocative moments. I love using scent because that is the sense closest to the memory center of the brain and is perhaps the most affecting.
E : Writer's "blocks" and lack of motivation can be problems common to all artistic people. Do you ever have trouble motivating yourself to keep up with your work? How do you, personally, navigate problems like that? Do you have any ritual/process to encourage yourself?
F : I never use the term, because of my last name. If I don’t feel able to write I read, re-write or try to fill up on art and music and film for inspiration. I also talk to my writer friends for ideas.
E : I wrote a piece a while back about a friend I lent my copy of Girl Goddess #9 to. I forced him (now her) to read "Dragons in Manhattan" because it reminded me of him. He read it and felt it and loved it -- couldn't stop talking about it and how it made him feel. I never got that book back, now that I think of it...And I've read plenty of stories from readers who connected deeply with the issues of sexuality in Baby-BeBop, among many other works.I'm sure many fans come up to you with stories of how your books changed or affected their lives. Have you ever had a reader's story really affect you in return? Do you have any favorites?
F : That’s a pretty great one right there. The most touching stories have to do with readers who say that my writing helped them through some personal crisis—eating disorders, self harm, heart break, the death of a loved one. I get these messages fairly often and I’m so grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to help someone through my stories.
E : I just started a simple series of graphics defining beautiful words, to post over the course of the next month. I really love how fantastic and strong words can be and I have a few favorites. Do you have a favorite word to contribute?
F : When I was a little girl I used to look up synonyms for the word light all the time.
|i had to make this up real quick, of course...|
E : My boyfriend and I are about to pack up and move across the country, which is huge and terrifying. What huge events or experiences, good or bad, are you the most thankful for in your life? Are there any life experiences you think everyone should go through at some point?
F : For me it was the birth of my children and the death of my mother. The most joyous and the most painful but they were both truly beautiful and encompassed what life means to me.
E : Do you remember what the very first thing you fell in love with about L.A. was?
F : The lemon tree outside my window. My dad playing the piano with my toes when I was a baby. Pink skies. The ocean. The wild canyons. Houdini’s mansion.
E : Finally, what do you hope for in your future? What would you like to see, create, do, or experience?
F : I would like to expand my business so that I have a beautiful space to hold writing workshops and salons with live music. I want publish a fiction journal of my students’ work, design and sell merchandise related to our work and produce films. I also want to travel and do retreats all around the world.
Thank you so much to Francesca Lia Block for this awesome opportunity!!
I can't explain how much I appreciate getting to know my favorite author.
If you've never read FLB's books (which would be crazy, since you're here!) check out her work at FrancescaLiaBlock.com, and even check out her writing workshops (one day I will do this!).
*images are hyper-linked to their original sources