Songs in My Hands: An Interview with Francesca Lia Block


It’s been a while since I’ve done an interview. And, to be honest with you, I thought I would not do them again. But then I really began to miss meeting other women authors and finding out what strides they are making in science-fiction and fantasy. So, I’m back with another fascinating author.

Today, I’d like to introduce Francesca Lia Block (whom you should know already unless you’ve been living under a rock!). Block has written more than 25 books of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction in her long career. She has also edited two  short fiction collections that stretch the boundaries of what we know as fantasy. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including the Spectrum Award, the Phoenix Award, the ALA Rainbow Award,  and the 2005 Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award.


RLM: Tell me about your background and what first drew you to writing.

FLB: My father was a painter and my mother, a poet. They read to me and exposed me to fine art from an early age. There were books everywhere in our house. I liked to draw, paint, dance, design clothes and write poetry.  My strengths were in writing and I soon  began to focus exclusively on that. I think the medium is less important than the basic self expression.


Pretty dead

RLM: Almost all of your books draw on, or directly retell, classic myths and legends. What about these stories first inspired you to use them as the basis for your own work?

FLB: Not all of the but I love those stories. My father told me The Odyssey as a bedtime story and showed me paintings and sculptures depicting Greek and Roman mythology. I always loved fairy tales as well. These stories have so much to teach us and each of us can interpret them in our own unique ways. I also rely on them for story structure.


Rose and the BeastRLM: Besides writing fiction, you also teach the craft of writing. Do you ever find that teaching writing interferes with your ability to create your own stories and characters?

FLB: It can be very inspiring to teach, to be around that “beginner’s mind”  energy. I also love breaking down craft because it helps me strengthen my own. The only downside is that I spend a lot of time reading student work and at the end of the day I am often too tired to read for pleasure and growth, or to write my own books.


RLM: In a recent blog post, you talk about how David Bowie has influenced your writing – specifically Weetzie Bat. What other literary/cultural influences can be found in your work?

FLB: Punk music, song lyrics, fashion, surrealism, magical realism, film, poetry  and, as mentioned, Celtic fairy tales and Greek myths.

Love in the time of global warming   The island of excess love


RLM: Love in the time of Global Warming and The Island of Excess Love tackle a lot of hot-button issues including gender identity, same-sex relationships, and teen sex.

FLB: I don’t write to impart a message; I just write the stories I need to tell. I do believe that we are all equal and should be treated as such. I think teen sex is a complicated issue and as a mother I would hope that my children wait as long as possible. However, I often write about the subject as I think it is relevant and often enhances the story.


RLM: A great deal of your fiction focuses on young adults. How do you stay connected to this age group so your characters and situations remain authentic and relevant?

FLB: We were all  young once. I’m in touch with all parts of myself. I am interested in writing and publishing exclusively for adults now. Much of my  early work was actually written for people in their twenties but was published for teens.


Dangerous Angels

RLM: Tell me more about Fairy Magick Zine Workshop. How did the idea first come about?

FLB: I had done a workshop on the Muse with Amanda Yates Garcia, the Oracle of Los Angeles, and we wanted to do something else together. I am interested in fairy energy (they tend to frequent  my garden) and, as mentioned, [I love] fairy tales and she is very well versed in all kinds of magic so we  put the workshop together from our respective classes.


RLM: In another blog post, you talk about the use of social media to promote creative works. What lessons have you learned in your career regarding self-marketing? What one piece of advice would you give to creatives just starting out in their career?

FLB: This advice is about promotion, not about the creative process itself: try to touch one person at a time, but touch them with integrity, focus, kindness and care. Your network will grow exponentially.

Love magick   rough magick


RLM: You recently edited an anthology called Rough Magick (companion to Love Magick, published in 2011). How does the role of editor compare to writer? Which would you say you prefer?

FLB: I enjoy both for different reasons. I want to help my friends and students promote their work. Supporting one another is essential!


Psyche in a dress

RLM: What’s next for you? What are you working?

FLB: A memoir about finding the Muse.


To find out more about Francesca and her incredible work, visit her website. She’s also on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

One thought on “Songs in My Hands: An Interview with Francesca Lia Block

  1. Pingback: Songs in My Hands: An Interview with Francesca Lia Block | R. L. Martinez

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