- Scott Phillips
Block was born in Los Angeles, sometimes known as "Shangri-L.A.," other times "Hell-A," depending on how the day is going. The daughter of a poet and painter, she attended the University of California at Berkeley. Francesca was a riot grrrl before the term was coined. She read the novels of Gabriel Garcia Marquez while at college; his magical realism became a major influence. Block's work is grounded in urban realities, though she sees pixies and genies in that "jasmine-scented, jacaranda-purple, neon sparked city." She missed Los Angeles and wrote her first novel to cure homesickness. That novel was Weetzie Bat, and it made a big, wet splash in young adult literature.
Weetzie and her friend Dirk have lots of fun living in LA. Dirk and Weetzie and their dog, Slinkster Dog, hang out, surf, and cruise in Dirk's '55 Pontiac, Jerry, but something is missing. Weetzie wants a love for Dirk, a Secret Agent Lover Man for herself, and a house where they can live happily ever after. That's what life is about, isn't it? "What does 'happily ever after' mean, anyway?" Weetzie asks Dirk. Good question when life takes a turn to the weird, as it soon will for Weetzie and her friends.
Francesca followed up Weetzie Bat with Witch Baby and Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys, Baby Be-Bop, really a prequel about Dirk, and Missing Angel Juan, darkest of all the stories. Block's strength is creating (mostly) likeable and lively characters. She's also written retellings of fairy tales, updating the settings and predicaments, and some dark, angsty titles, as well as a collection of short stories, Girl Goddess #9. FLB writes edgy stories with a touch of magic in them; her voice is unique, and worth listening to. There is a list to get you started.
Francesca Lia Block on the Web:
Her official site.