Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The next big thing

My answers for #thenextbigthing
Q: What is your working title of your book (or story)? The Elementals #theelementals
Q: Where did the idea come from for the book? I’ve been writing it in my mind and in bits and pieces for so long that I can’t remember. I was inspired by the story of Tam Lin, by Patrick Harpur’s THE PHILOSOPHER’S SECRET FIRE, by Keats and Yeats.
Q: What genre does your book fall under? Adult fiction but it is quickly gaining an older young adult audience. It also has elements of urban fantasy and murder mystery.
Q: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? A young Charlotte Gainsbourg for Ariel. A young Joseph Gordon-Levitt for John.
Q: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Ariel Silverman is a freshman at U Berkeley investigating the disappearance of her best friend when she falls into the secret world of three beautiful and mysterious strangers.

Q: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? It is published by St. Martin’s Press and my agent is Laurie Liss from Sterling Lord Literistic.
Q: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About nine months and then I revised it a lot.
Q: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? THE LOVELY BONES by Alice Sebold. THE SECRET HISTORY by Donna Tartt. IN THE WOOD by Tana French. At least these were all inspirations.
Q: Who or what inspired you to write this book? My mother. The Faerie Queen. The death of a girl I knew as a child.
Q: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? I started the story about a young woman whose mother has cancer a few months before my mom found out she had cancer. I finished it sitting on the floor in the doorway of the room where my mother died. She told me “Everything is going to be a fine,” held my hand and looked into my eyes and then she smiled.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


later after we have unwrapped the raffia
poured the rose quartz colored himalayan
salt into the bathwater
eaten the last roses
and laid ourselves down in the white eyelet linens
left from my mother
then i will tell you how this one night in december i yearned for you more than any other moment
in these last fifty years
because at that time i had (finally) ceased to believe you would ever come
and the children from connecticut
they had been shot
and everyone was grieving
like it was the end of the world
which i think it was
and you will say
yes, yes, i remember that night too
i had stopped looking for you
i didn't tell anyone but i had given up
in some profound way
all those little children

but now you are nowhere
and i think of all those little children
won't let mine from my sight
the dark hedge along the path to school is full of armed zombies
and the bridge crosses sulfur water strewn with bones

once in newtown in the summer i spent all day in my aunt's meadow
wearing a pink and white frock
so lonely
waiting for something
rubbing clover leaves together to see if i could make one with four leaves
to ward off the danger of our lives

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Five Facts You May or May Not Know About THE ELEMENTALS

1. It's Not a Young Adult Book.
Although the story is a coming-of-age one with a seventeen year old protagonist, THE ELEMENTALS is not published for teens but by St. Martin's Press for adults. Teens will probably be interested in it but there are some key differences between this and some of my other work.

Actually, a few of my "teen" novels were actually written for adults as well (THE HANGED MAN for example).

Many of my favorite adult novels feature adult protagonists (Karen Russell's SWAMPLANDIA, Alice Sebold's THE LOVELY BONES, Russell Banks' THE RULE OF THE BONE, Joy Nicholson's TRIBES OF PALOS VERDES etc etc).

The dark themes, erotic passages and twisted ending (see below) make THE ELEMENTALS a book primarily for older readers.

2. It's Not my First Adult Book
In addition to books like THE HANGED MAN, which was published as YA, I've had a number of books published as "adult" including NECKLACE OF KISSES, RUBY (with Carmen Staton), GUARDING THE MOON, NYMPH, QUAKELAND, and WOOD NYMPH SEEKS CENTAUR.

3. It's Not my First Attempt at Erotica
Any of you who've read NYMPH (see above) know this isn't true and that I've been writing sexy stuff since way before E.L. James.

4. It's Not Just for Girls
I've been pleased to receive praise from men in their twenties, thirties forties and fifties for this book. Check out writerscast HERE.

5. It Doesn't Have a Happy Ending
Without giving anything away, the ending of this book is not supposed to be happy, although some people have interpreted it that way (I intended the ambiguity). This is one reason THE ELEMENTALS isn't YA I suppose, although WASTELAND has a tragic ending and WAS published as YA. In THE ELEMENTALS Ariel seems to get what she wants but does she? Is it real? Is she losing her sanity? Is the world of the imagination a safe place to live?

Read and Find Out

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Recorded Interview with flb

Hear my interview with David Wilk of Writerscast here

photo credit: Sara Turbeville

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Reader Review of the Elementals Thank You Justina Jess Nemoy

Review: The Elementals by Francesca Lia Block

Justina Nemoy

There are those who make magic and those who are magical. Francesca Lia Block is both. A weaver of words, her shimmering prose wraps the reader in an enchanted cloak, embroidered with dreams. Through her eyes, cities offer a fleeting glimpse of the magic secretly pulsing through their veins beneath the skin of mini malls and suburban mazes. Block’s books are sensual delights. Reading them, I smell the tang of salt water, savor the delicious heat of Mexican food, feel the papery blossoms of Bougainvillea between fingertips, visually caress dusty cactus-lined canyons, and sense Otherworldly creatures flitting on the periphery. She returns me to the Los Angeles of my youth. As in any timeless tale, Block anchors fantasy elements with life’s darker truths. Her characters face eating disorders, addiction, sexual identity, or depression. They struggle with loss and recovery. Loneliness and self-doubt eat away at them. They ache to find love and acceptance. Her protagonists are strikingly real in their challenges, even more believable in the gradual revelation of their inner strength. I have loved Block’s work since I discovered a signed copy of Dangerous Angels, the collected Weetzie Bat novellas, at my local bookstore. Each of her books I read in a trance, devouring yet fearing its end, until I emerge from its spell, inspired and redeemed.

The Elementals, Block’s newest novel does not disappoint. Although known for her Young Adult books, this work is bolder in its undercurrent of sexuality and more graphic in its descriptions of sex. Thus, it is marketed as a novel for adults. However the narrator, Ariel’s, coming of age story will appeal to adults and older teen readers alike.

The story opens with the disappearance of Ariel’s best friend, Jeni, while on a college trip to UC Berkeley. This mystery weaves its dark thread throughout. A traditional college experience is turned on its head as Ariel searches for clues. Her mother is also fighting breast cancer. Instead of drawing closer, they push each other away. Lonely Ariel is pulled into the enchanted world of three enigmatic strangers- John, Tania, and Perry- living in their enticing home on the hill. As she becomes increasingly entangled in the fairy tale existence of her new friends, she grows detached from the more painful realities in her life. Block’s protagonist is alternately driven to find answers or to seek the various forms of oblivion offered her. A steamy romance with the intriguing and handsome John becomes addictive.

The narrative references the legend of Tam Lin and Fair Janet without becoming derivative. Will Ariel chose to remain in Fairyland? Is John the enchanted knight held captive? Is it Ariel? Or perhaps, it is them both. The Elementals successfully utilizes the mythos of shape-changing lover and human-stealing fairies in new ways. Block’s skillful writing transforms them into metaphors which satisfy and propel the story forward to its compelling conclusion.

I return to Block’s novels because, despite the magical elements, she does not sugar-coat. Her portrait of a woman battling breast cancer is heart wrenchingly real. Many times, my face was wet with tears. Not only was I caught up in Ariel’s mother’s experience, I relived the pain of watching my father battle cancer. Yet, there is true catharsis in this part of the story. At its end, I found that my grief had subtly changed. I felt stronger and the ache, while still there, hurt less. A good book opens worlds. An excellent one opens a reader. The Elementals is as much about transformation as it is transformative.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

poet l.a.ureate

my lover is los angeles
like this city i haven't even begun to know all of him
he's as far away as inglewood from the san fernando
valley where i grew up
burning my skin in the smogged sun
enticing as that fallen star skyline as glamorous untouchable
and yet i'm touching him
curled up naked against the cellphone in his back pocket
"calm down" he tells me "breathe"
cradling my neck in his hand holding me so i can see us
he's the dodgers he's a palm tree
he's the mountains surrounding me
that brutal sun
and a large dark sea waiting at the horizon to engulf
and cool
i get lost on his freeways
his lights blind me doubling my vision
red green and yellow blurred by cataracts in my eyes

i see a rainbow on the 405
a house with room for everyone
there are little children dancing all around us
trees are inexplicably purple
sky defiantly pink
music in the hillsides
and wild animals roaming the periphery
a drunken girl wandering the underworld looking for her orpheus
she'll find him if it kills her
all she has to guide her
are her words

Sunday, September 16, 2012

#30 last poem

Thank you for reading these and to those who participated in the 30 day challenge.

For Sam

air to my fire
horse to my tiger
right to my left
reason to rhyme

words fall from our fingers
tears fall from our eyes
our feet are already
almost the same size
there was one year my baby pictures
could have been yours

it's hard to write a poem for you
my true
because there's no tension no sorrow no pain

Saturday, September 15, 2012


For Jasmine

i don't own this beauty
but i will protect it like it's some white and girl-sized rose
walking around in tiny shorts and a high pony tail
feet slightly turned in
still (thankfully) aware there's something for us both to guard

this ferocity is not what i expected
when i put the picture of the blue eyed pink cheeked cherub
on the box of the cassette i made her father
for he and i to make love to
this ferocity that turns itself on me
"i hate you"
and i have to remember
even though i didn't say it to my mom
i was once just as fierce
imploding not exploding
i'd rather this
than anorexia and cysts

this height, this strength, this perfectly styled hair
none of it is mine
but all of it is mine
to guard as if i am a taloned beast
with sharpened teeth

and when the lights are out
pillow feet press
into my bony shins
the hand flung out across my chest
the sleepy words

i love you

this belongs to me

Thursday, September 13, 2012


The Doctors

the doctor took out my eye, buckled it and put it back
the doctor punctured the boils on my face with a syringe
the doctor pumped toxins into my face
the doctor removed the fat from my face
the doctor removed the cartilage from my nose
so my sinuses no longer functioned
the doctor only half removed the bump from my nose
the doctor removed my perfect bridge
put in one made of plaster that crumbled to dust
the doctors smashed my breasts between metal plates
the doctors pretty much left everything below the waist alone
except when i had my babies
and then they just helped me
see god

Monday, September 10, 2012



she did the tasks every day
the cleaning of ash from the hearth
the sweeping of leaves in the parlor
the clearing of vines from the walls
the sorting of shells that the sea had swept in
the freeing of moths from the bedroom

slowly the house began to return to its former state
a pale gray villa carved with roses
pink marble floors
pale blue ceilings starred with crystals
murals of cherubs and clouds
bed fit for a prince
wardrobe of shoes made of glass

all of this, it does not save her
eventually everything
will still become ash



once i wanted to sleep in an eggshell
live in a nest
sip dew from a petal
hide in your pocket as you suggested
wings folded up
smashed against your beating
i could walk the lines in your palm like a maze
roll through the meadow of your hair
hang around your neck like a charm
that was before
you married someone regular-sized (though slim)
and had two children

your students liked my books
to them i wasn't a thumb
now occasionally some of mine will say
"when i met you i was surprised
you are such a regular person"
i never know quite how to take this
(i think they are referring to messy hair
worry lines, dust bunnies beneath the couch)
but at least they didn't expect me to be tiny, did they?

when i finally find the real "you"
he'll be able to look me in the eye
we'll stand side by side
he won't be afraid of my body
changed by two large babies
he'll be able to take
all of me


and the beast

i dreamed of three beasts in a cage
anger, lust and jealousy were their names
somehow they escaped and prowled
around my feet their growls
made my bones shake
i could not run so instead
i bent and spoke
in softest tones
soon they nuzzled me like pups

next i was in a sea
caught far out, where the shore?
strange prehistoric birds swam by
with terrifying glinting eyes
in which were mirrored
every fear
one a burning tower
from which bodies flew like ash
one a disease of mutant cells
one a child
with x-ed out eyes

i've tamed many creatures, many beasts
but not
every one
not each

Sunday, September 9, 2012



trapped in a small glass box
tattoo blue ink on my skin
a closet full of missing shoes
and pairs that crushed my bones
destroyed my feet
dust and crumpled silks and sweaters
an empty page
a blank canvas
a pond clogged with dead weeds and the bones of fish
yellowing grass
a dripping faucet
the sound of her voice no longer in my ears
no music at all
no dancing in the living room
no dancing
food without taste
her, gone
ashes unscattered
still in their urn
we're afraid to touch them

grief is the underworld
persephone's realm
a single pomegranate seed
life without demeter
did anyone think
that the daughter might have grieved too
even with hades to fill her
and mine comes so briefly
mother, mother
under the ground
she would say
is where the seeds begin

Saturday, September 8, 2012



i was forced to live in the hotel lobby
the carpet was scratchy, red and gold
wood-paneled walls and the smell of smoke and drinks
no place for a baby!

(i think i remember something else
something having to do with shallow water rushing
over stones? green daisies floating and a hillock
with a door? the smell of rain cupped in petals
music like the wind
playing her silver hair
someone i loved
someone who loved

but in that lobby
without rain or wind or any
thing you could call music
one lady fought revulsion
and took pity on me
big and pale with my bobble head
swollen, half blind eyes
and an old man's voice

she carried me upstairs
lay me on the bedspread and dressed me
then she fed me from a bottle
though i made her queasy

she knew she had to learn compassion
i'm that part of her she hates
ugly, weak, abandoned
severed from my illumined world
not loveable apparently

but someone has to do it


The Fortune Teller

the fortune teller told me i had one big project that would never come to fruition until i gave up hope. of course every time i suspected it would come to fruition i realized it would not (if the fortune teller was correct.) i was too hopeful! she was a dark-browed woman in a smoke-filled room. it said "psychic" in pink neon out in front.
i'm still waiting.

the fortune teller said that o. and i were married in another life, medieval times. said psychic was blond and beautiful and charged me lots of money. i wrote a poem, i thought i could remember everything--the linen sheets, the hearth, the cottage in the woods. i took these things to mean that we were destined, o and i, that we loved each other now. until his estranged wife came to visit and they spent two weeks at the beach. getting henna tattoos, staying in his one-bedroom apartment and not speaking to anyone else, not even her new boyfriend. especially not me.

on our first date, at the crystal store, the fortune teller told me and b that we were sisters in another life. the fortune teller was a tall young man who lapsed into old southern woman voice when he told his tales. my heart stirred, imagining the possibilities (though b was freaked) and b and i had dinner, did a little dance, he bought me bangles bright with flowers. but we saw each other only once again. if you don't count the time i checked his facebook page and found he was engaged. (i was not his maid of honor!)

the fortune teller is a lovely mom with tarot cards. she told me that my soul mate? he'd come soon. that he'd be young and fair with an interest in music and the spirit. that even though you're dark skinned, dark-haired, dark-eyed, with a dark-beard growing on your face, those times you stayed up all night long to work, you might be him. you might be


Thursday, September 6, 2012


for k.s.

this is no fairy tale
this is a thirteen year old girl
who took her life
this is my daughter crumpling like silk when she hears
this is my son freezing like ice when he hears
this is my friend who sobs on the phone
"she was my kid's age"
this is my son hitting the mattress
"i hate myself"
this is my daughter closing the door
this is the wasteland
this is the void
this is the burning
this is the truth

this is us standing
at the far end of the road
of any semblance of healing

this is me wanting to hold your soul in my hands
like a newborn

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Rose White Rose Red (for s and r)

i was rose white twice
both times rose red was black haired
much more beautiful than i

rose 1. painted lilies
emerging from the dark like candles
we ate sushi in the shapes of flowers
she studied medicine, got all a's
her smooth eyelids
her runner's thighs
her feral grin
i was so young and scared
there was nothing to fear
she might have saved me
if i'd let her

rose red 2. was a poet and musician
we giggled on her bed in her tiny house
way up in the canyon
wearing only bras
we were always dressed in see-through shirts those days
dancing together
to 80's songs in our own small dark club as if no one else was there
attending shows of neon lights and electronic sounds
galleries filled with art i didn't understand
i was always hot it seemed
we were always sweating
trying to cool the back of our hair-strewn necks
in the night air

i should have kissed rose red both times
instead i lost myself
to the devouring

Monday, September 3, 2012

if you are enjoying these poems...

and would like to contribute a donation to the faerie cottage fund, please contact me at francescaliablock@sbcglobal.net for a paypal link love flb

Sunday, September 2, 2012



i was sold to the devil for gold 1.
i gave up my hands for my father 2.
i gave up his wealth to go wander 3.
i gave up my freedom
for one gold skinned pear 4.
i gave up my child for a changeling 5.
i gave up my life for my child 6.

i gave up my kingdom for forests 7.

i gave up my king for an angel 8.
i gave up my hands made of silver 9.
for hands made of flesh, made of bone

1. the devil had braided haunches stuck with burrs, steely hooves, a tail like a bramble and horns bursting forth from his forehead as if they hurt him. he saw me by my father's apple tree, pink and white as apple blossoms, and wanted to take a bite.
2. the devil would have killed my father when he would not give me up so i offered my hands instead. the devil cut them off at the wrist with a cleaver. my own tears stopped the bleeding and the stumps healed up like doorknobs.
3. my father became rich and offered me a room in his big house and a servant to clean and feed me, forever like a child. but instead i set off into the world with a sack on my back and my two polished stumps.
4. in a gated garden i saw a pear tree. on it hung a pear the color of spun gold. my mouth watered--i had not eaten in a day. i stood on tiptoe to reach it with my mouth. the king saw me and took me in. he was rich and handsome with large appendages. he forged me hands of silver because a king cannot marry a girl with missing parts. i became his wife.
5. the devil stole my child and put in his place an elflocked fae.
6. in order to save the changeling i had to leave in exile, never to return.
7. with my child i came into the forest redolent with sap and mulch and the dark trickle of secret waters among the roots. here we found an abandoned cottage made of willow branches and here we lived.
8. the angel who found us here is tall as a tree and his hands are like wings. his skin is dark of hue. his smile a pearl necklace. he has no money in his pockets. he has no pockets. he brought me pears and water. he helped me feed my child.
he loves my strange-eyed boy, changeling or not.
9. the angel wept upon my silver hands
and they became
hands of flesh and bone



bluebeard had enticing eyes, large and deep and dark
as lakes, as shadows
he was graceful on his skateboard and had a throaty laugh
he said,
"i never noticed you
until the day you wore those high-heeled boots
and then i thought, hmmm maybe her?"

he took me to his chamber
and wooed me with sweet wine from fountains
and with dance and music
the lyrics went, "tear you apart"
but i chose to take this figuratively
the speak of pop, not literal

he did my portrait
me smiling at him dumbly
like an animal unaware of slaughter
he brought me swooning flowers
took me to dine in canyons
strung with fairy lights
and where coyotes howled

i let bluebeard do to me
whate'er he wanted
i let him into places
no one had been
i wrote him poems everyday for months
and he responded
with emoticons

when bluebeard sent me home
alone in the dark
when he danced with another while i watched
when he refused to acknowledge me in public
even with a glance or smile
i should have known
should have been grateful
instead i stuck around
one day too long

what frightens me of bluebeard
is not that he killed me
but that i let him


Baba Yaga

listen, it's not like you think
those girls? they came to me
they wanted things
gold and jewels and love and everlasting
they wanted my white steed of morning
and my red steed of day
and my black steed of night
my prophetic cat
and my loving dog
and my singing bird
they wanted my house on its claws
because it could walk
they wanted my servants
tied me down to reveal
their invisible forms
and their secret names

the girls beat me and bruised me
and called me crone
they made me listen to them weep
about how lonely and ugly they felt
(they with their long golden hair and skin smooth as glass)
as if my withered face and spotted hands
my empty bed
were irrelevant

yes, i killed them
and used their skulls for lamp posts
with candles burning inside
brighter than their old minds
yes i took their lives
but look at my scars

if you come visit me, pretty one
i'll show you the truth

Saturday, September 1, 2012


skeleton funeral

i don't need a man anymore
i have my children
i can raise them
i have my bills
i can pay them

i can manage my grief
i can heal my body
i can validate myself
i can love and give love
i have friends when i'm lonely
i can process the memory
of my mother's bones in my arms
without obliteration

but i have forgotten
how to shed tears

then sometimes you're here
your flesh is so warm
your bones are so strong
your chest is so wide
your drum is so fierce
slowly, slowly
my heart may be learning
to open

Thursday, August 30, 2012

#15 half way done

Freak Show

what's it to you, mister?
staring at me like that
like i'm some kind of freak

who cares that i wear my heart
hanging right round my neck
a big bloody trophy
that my skin is scarred with them
self-made wounds
i'm a self made creature!
with my tale writ large

do you really give a fuck that my back sprouts wings
out of the cartilage thin fierce whirs

what's it to you old man?

i'm fish scales and goat hooves and claw feet and cat tails
i'm teeth and i'm flesh and i'm hair in the places
you didn't approve
i'm your greatest night mare and the thing you want to possess
a sideshow in a cage
a trophy on your wall

in another time and place they'd give me a different name my friend
they'd call me goddess
they'd call me artist
they'd call me woman


The Sandman

i made him of black sand
still wet from the ocean
his lips were plums
his legs were small trees
his hands were palm fronds
his sex an obelisk
his ribs were the cage of an ibis

i lay my head on his chest and some grains
got into my eyes
and i dreamed
of how the sandman
came to life
slid himself inside me
and obliterated my fears for one night

oh sandman return with your dreams
but in exchange
you may not have my eyes
to feed your children
in their nest on the moon
made of iron

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


ice queen

"i'm so cold" my mother said
"come warm me
"there's a lady in the room"
when i arrived
at the small spanish apartment
with white roses in the front
my mother was all jutting bones
in her little pink pajamas
i tried to thaw her
i didn't see the ice queen
but i knew she was there
watching us
taloned fingers long as hands
skin a silver blue
and her touch a burn
like i used to feel
sticking my tongue into the ice tray as a child
i didn't beg my mom to stay
i sat beside her as the day turned gold then gray
then black
through the shut windows
"i love you" we said, again and again
all we had left
all there was that mattered
it did not melt the queen
her gray eyes were pools of frost
black lake of something
waiting underneath
it did not make her leave
but when my mother finally smiled and took her hand
someone else arrived
in that dim and musty room
someone my mother recognized
someone she'd been waiting
a quarter century to join
someone who had once been

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Kirkus Elementals Review

Silver rings, a profusion of flowers, hazy graveyards and perhaps the fae embroider this hypnotic tale.

Block (Pink Smog, 2012, etc.) returns with her distinctively smoldering style. ...shimmering imagery and nimble characterization. On a school-sponsored visit to UC Berkeley, Ariel Silverman’s best friend, Jeni, strangely disappeared. Just as Ariel herself is set to go off to Berkeley, her paren
ts reveal that Ariel’s mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Still reeling and numb with grief, Ariel heads to college, determined to pursue the mystery of Jeni’s disappearance. Life quickly becomes a routine of classes, running and passing out flyers with Jeni’s face. To escape frat boys, obnoxious football players and her lascivious roommate, Ariel begins to wander the streets at night. On Halloween, an ominous giant of a homeless man hands her a flyer, an invitation to a party at the House of Eidolon. Given that dorm life is hell, Ariel goes to the party, and there, her life takes a sudden, irrevocable turn. The gorgeously Gothic house is home to three enigmatic graduate students who seduce Ariel into their glamorous lives. Perry, faunlike with his curly hair and sly attentiveness, is a classics major. Bewitching Tania has focused her psychology studies on magic, divination and superstition. Yet Ariel’s eyes lock with those of John, who is studying the continuance of the soul. Worried still about Jeni, Ariel soon finds herself physically compelled to return again and again to her enchanting new friends. Why does she feel ill without them? Who is the giant who seems to be lurking about? What does the tattoo on John’s wrist say? Why is Tania so welcoming? And how does Jeni fit into the puzzle?

Well-paced and lushly written.


#francescaliablock #theelementals #signing
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
7:00 PM
Barnes & Noble (The Grove)
189 The Grove Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 (Tentative)
7:30 PM
Mysterious Galaxy Books in Redondo Beach
2810 Artesia Blvd.
Redondo Beach, CA 90278

Saturday, October 20, 2012
1:00 PM-3:00 PM
Chevalier’s Books
126 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004



Sunday, November 11, 2012
4:00 PM
Book Soup
8818 Sunset Blvd.
W. Hollywood CA 90069