The Writing Disorder





Introduction by Ashley Inguanta

I met Francesca a little over three years ago in Los Angeles. I was taking one of her workshops, and it was the first time I’d left the east coast. I remember sitting in Francesca’s living room, surrounded by light and warm women. We all shared stories with each other about pain, happiness, and the rare and beautiful balance of the two. I wrote about abuse and starvation, things I didn’t think I’d share with anyone, ever. Not even Mandy—my friend who brought me to the workshop.

I met Mandy when I was 18. She gave me Girl Goddess #9, and I read the book and felt like both Mandy and Francesca knew all my secrets. I was scared of connecting with people; my thought process was something like this: if I get too close to anyone, they’d know that I have sexual feelings toward women, and then they’d hate me. But really, though, I hated myself for having feelings I couldn’t understand.

I was 22 when I finally met Francesca. In those 4 years between Girl Goddess and the California workshop, I read every one of Francesca’s books I could find. I came out of the closet while reading Weetzie Bat. I finally stopped starving myself when I read Echo. I understood that love and pain are very similar in Wasteland. I remember wanting to take care of Echo and cook for her, become best friends with Witch Baby, help heal Lex and Marina, show La that it was okay to love women, that it’s okay to mourn loss.

Many of Francesca’s readers have healed with the help of her writing. Francesca is the author of over 25 books, and her most recent works include Fairy Tales in Electri-City, The Frenzy, and House of Dolls. Here, in this interview, Francesca discusses how she experiences healing through teaching and writing, as well as erotica, her childhood, and new projects.



THE WRITING DISORDER: What was your youth like, and what made you want to be a writer?

FRANCESCA LIA BLOCK: My father was a painter and my mother wrote poetry, danced, played the lute. They read to me all the time, and told me Greek myths as bedtime stories. By first grade I knew I wanted to be a writer and I was fortunate enough to always be encouraged by my family and teachers. Reading and writing always made me feel better about myself and the world around me.

TWD: Where do your stories come from? How do you begin?

FRANCESCA: I usually start with experiences from my life or I imagine scenarios and then apply emotional truths from my life to them. I think of it as a process similar to collage where I add interesting layers and textures from disparate places.

TWD: What are your writing habits like? Are you always working?

FRANCESCA: I have two children and I teach but I work almost every day ,any time I can squeeze it in. I’m always writing in my head.

TWD: What happens when you write a story or novel?

FRANCESCA: I come up with an idea, discuss it with an editor, agent or friend, write up an outline and dive in. Then I send it to my agent or publisher and receive notes for a re-write.


TWD: How much of what you write do you throw away?

FRANCESCA: Not that much anymore. Every so often I have to really lose a lot to make a book or story work. But usually my problem is making things long enough, not cutting back.

TWD: How do you feel at the end of writing a story or novel?

FRANCESCA: Relieved. Sometimes, if it was a very special project, I feel sad to see it “go.” I finished THE ELEMNTALS (see below) in the doorway of my mom’s bedroom the night she died. It’s dedicated to her.

TWD:What is your writing space like?

FRANCESCA: A big white desk with pink roses in front of a window overlooking my garden and picket fence. Kids and dog running around.

TWD: What are you working on now?

FRANCESCA: A secret project! Also awaiting notes on a book about a psychic girl. It was inspired by the film JULIET OF THE SPIRITS by Fellini. And hoping to find a publisher for my psycho-fantasy, murder mystery faerie story THE ELEMENTALS.


TWD: Who are the writers that influenced you – as an adult and as a child?

FRANCESCA: Emily Dickenson, Virginia Woolf, Anne Sexton, Plath, Salinger, Garcia Marquez, Nin, Joseph Campbell, Joan Didion, Collette, H.D., Mary Gaitskill

TWD: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

FRANCESCA: Be with my kids and friends, do yoga, go out to eat vegan food, dance, have parties, see films, read, take baths.

TWD: How did your writing workshops come about? What inspired you to work in groups with other women?

FRANCESCA: I wanted to share my experience as a writer because it has been so healing for me and I felt a need to develop a community. I have a beautiful space to teach in and we also use it to dance, eat, take photos, make music, do art and play. Men are welcome, too! Come join us.


TWD: Were you into the music scene in your youth (which bands), what was that like?

FRANCESCA: I found punk in the early 80’s and loved bands like X, the early Go-Go’s, the Adolescents, Circle Jerks, Cramps, Siouxsie and the Banshees. Also, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Bowie, B52’s Echo and the Bunnymen, Cure, New Order, Red Hot Chile Peppers, Fishbone, Animal Dance, Telekin on and on

TWD: I heard you went to Fairfax High School. What was that experience like? (If not, what was your high school experience like.) Are you still in touch with anyone from that time?

FRANCESCA: I went to North Hollywood High. My mom went to Fairfax—so did Weetzie. I am in touch with some people through Facebook. I had a good group of friends, wrote stories and poetry, went to see bands, wore weird stuff.

TWD: Were fairy tales an important part of your childhood?

FRANCESCA: Yes, they have always been important to me. i like the really dark original ones and I am still writing versions of them.


TWD: How did your book Weetzie Bat come about? How has it changed your life?

FRANCESCA: I wrote it while studying literature at UC Berkeley and though I intended to be a published author I was surprised when it was picked up. It felt so small and personal but it has been my most popular book, optioned as by producers many times, translated into many languages. It has opened so many doors for me and I will always be grateful to Weetzie.

TWD:What inspired you to write erotica?

FRANCESCA: Sex. And being categorized as a young adult writer, which I don’t really consider myself to be

TWD: What are the challenges of being a writer today?

FRANCESCA: IT is so much harder to get published and to make a living doing it. When I started there were more opportunities. The reason to pursue this career has to be love because it is so uncertain. But worth it.

For more information, please go to Francesca Lia Block's

Ashley Inguanta's writing has appeared or is forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, Pindeldyboz, Elephant Journal, All Things Girl, Gone Lawn, and Breadcrumb Scabs, among others. She also earned an honorable mention in Glimmer Train for their Very Short Fiction award.


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