A Magic Punk Convo with Francesca Lia Block
  Conversations    February 16, 2016     Natalie Ferrigno

 

Francesca Lia Block is an award-winning author most known for her iconic young adult series The Weetzie Bat Books. She’s written for all ages from children to adults in a wide range of genres from magical realism to poetry. Her stories are magical and poignant, drawing influence from subculture and music, as well as classic literature and mythology. She’ll be hosting the Feb 27th in-store reading of the Rough Magick Anthology (which she also co-edited) and on March 12th presenting, with collaborator Carmen Staton, The Weetzie Bat Cookbook, a collection of recipes inspired by the first five books in the series.

 

Natalie Ferrigno – You’ve written poetry, non-fiction, urban fantasy, and even a recipe book. What other genres do you hope to explore?

Francesca Lia Block – I’m writing a memoir, but it’s also a writing guide and a long prose poem. It’s about Los Angeles, punk rock, and the search for magic. As far as fiction, I’ve enjoyed adding the mystery element in Beyond the Pale Motel and The Elementals.

 

NF – If you could share a meal with any person living or dead, who would it be and why? What type of food would you have?

FLB – My parents and we would eat Japanese food, and I would show them the 12,000 words I have of my newest book.

 

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Open Letter to Quiet Light

NF – I recently read your poetry collections. Who are your favorite poets?

FLB – Anne Sexton, Emily Dickenson, Sylvia Plath, Keats and Yeats. Molly Bendall, Jenny Factor and Amy Gerstler.

 

NF – What role will you play in the Weetzie Bat film adaptation? What films and filmmakers inspire you?

FLB – I will hopefully be involved as much as possible, depending on what Elgin James the director wants. I love Fellini, Lynch, Campion, Roeg, Sofia Coppola, Wes Anderson—so many!

 

NF – On Twitter, you mentioned that there would be no Weetzie Bat without David Bowie. What about him and his music inspired those books?

FLB – He broke down so many barriers, between gay and straight, masculine and feminine, among musical genres, between humans and aliens. :)  He represented something that was both dark and edgy and light and romantic at the same time. Glam rock really gave birth to punk, and without punk there would definitely not have been a Weetzie Bat (her hair alone is Bowie inspired).  But most importantly, David Bowie expressed himself freely, without caring what anyone thought. He did it because he had to. That’s how I wrote that book.

 

NF – What other musicians and bands do you find inspirational?

FLB – Iggy Pop! Patti Smith! PJ Harvey, Tori Amos, Bjork, Sinead O’Connor, Nirvana, Hole, Joni Mitchell. More recently, Arcade Fire. It’s impossible not to love Adele.

 

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NF – You’ve written a non-fiction book about zines. Could you tell us a bit about your experience writing zines?

FLB – I came up before they were so prevalent. I read punk fanzines like Flipper, but that was about it. My friends and I made these  little  books with cartoons and lists and things that  were sort of our version of zines. If I was born a bit later and hit my adolescence in the 90s, I think I would have been a big zine addict!

 

NF – Your books sometimes mention alternative culture, especially punk. How do such movements influence you and your work?

FLB – I grew up in Los Angeles in the 70’s and 80’s and fell in love with the LA punk scene. I saw bands like X, The Go-Go’s, The Cramps, The Weirdos, Adolescents, Circle Jerks, Black Flag, and DOA at the Whisky, the Roxy, and the Starwood. It was a very inspiring time, full of darkness and, looking back, a certain (somewhat twisted) romantic optimism and innocence although it didn’t feel that way then.

 

NF – I saw your lecture for UCR’s Palm Desert MFA program the summer before last and found out online that you offer workshops. What is your most important/inspiring/exciting lesson to other writers?

FLB – Mine your soul and write from that place, a place that makes you conscious—that your heart is beating, that your lungs are taking in air, that you are in this body only briefly—and completely unconscious of that reality at the same  time.

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NF – What aspect of craft do you find the most fascinating or challenging?

FLB – It used to be plot and structure; voice and imagery came easy to me. I’ve studied plot intensively for the past eight years when I started teaching. I now find it much more manageable. It took me years of teaching many classes to distill my findings into twelve questions that help with structuring the novel and can be found online: 12 Questions to Help Structure Your Novel – All in One Post.

 

NF – Aside from Weetzie Bat, what other books would you like to see adapted into film? These can be your books or anyone else’s.

FLB – I want to see Brooke Stevens’ The Circus of the Earth and the Air made into a film. Also In the Woods by Tana French. I’m working on adapting Beyond the Pale Motel and will soon start on The Elementals.

 

We can’t wait to hang out with Francesca Lia Block on both February 27th (Rough Magick) and March 12th (The Weetzie Bat Cookbook), two very different events. 

 

Lia Block 1

 

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