Twenty-five years ago in April, I celebrated the publication of my first book, WEETZIE BAT (the story of a platinum-haired pixie and her band of surf punk friends roaming the streets, beaches and nightclubs of Los Angeles), at an art gallery where I worked and where my father, Irving Alexander Block, had shown his transcendent oil and watercolor paintings of my mother, Gilda, and her flowers, for years before his death in 1986.
The gallery was on La Cienega, a street that had been a popular location for galleries in the 1970’s. Celebrities, artists and art lovers filled the sidewalks, going from place to place, drinking free white wine out of plastic cups and buying, selling or admiring sculptures and paintings. Things had changed by the 1980’s but the gallery where I worked was still making ends meet. I spent my days filing, invoicing, answering phone calls and helping the owner write her memoir. It was where I had received a phone call from an illustrator friend, artist and illustrator Kathryn Jacobi, telling me that the godmother of literature for young people, Charlotte Zolotow, at Harper &Row (later Harper Collins), wanted to publish my little novel. I wept with joy when I heard; I had dreamed of this moment since first grade when I wrote poetry for my tiny, skinny, chain smoking, platform wearing teacher, Miss Atlas, my first Weetzie prototype.
The party included 100 friends wine and a cake decorated to look like the cover of my book, with a girl in a leather jacket and Wayfarers. I wore a sheer white lace blouse and a mini skirt made from antique pink and gold kimonos.
After the publication of my book, my life changed. It has been changing ever since. But I guess that’s just what life does. Still, the occasion felt momentous for me. My first book opened the door for me to work with brilliant editors and agents to create over twenty-five books for adults, young adults and children, including five sequels (WITCH BABY, CHEROKEE BAT AND THE GOAT GUYS, MISSING ANGEL JUAN, BABY BE-BOP and NECKLACE OF KISSES (http://www.amazon.com/Necklace-Kisses-Francesca-Lia to WEETZIE BAT, four of which were compiled into the single volume DANGEROUS ANGELS.
Over the course of these years I have met many brilliant, gifted people whom I would never have found if not for Weetzie. They are not only the editors and agents mentioned above, especially Charlotte, Joanna Cotler, Christy Ottaviano at Macmillan and Laurie Liss at Sterling Lord, and artists like Stephen Spielberg, who compared WEETZIE to REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, David Lynch, who suggested I take control of all my projects, John Cameron Mitchell who called NECKLACE OF KISSES “The most lustrous gem in the necklace of Weetzie Bat stories” and the brilliant author, Michael Cunningham, but, best of all, they are the readers of my work, a band of heart warriors who perhaps don’t feel they fit in most of the time but have created their own magical worlds in which to belong. I love them and they inspire me. We’ve lost some, like my fairy godmother, Charlotte, and the young, talented Jessica Kaplan and Teresa Duncan both of whom wanted to work on film adaptations of the book and tragically passed away much too soon. I hope I can honor their spirits with my work.
I am very grateful to all the dangerous angels this little book has brought into my life.
What’s up for Weetzie at 25 years? We have a Dangerous Angels T-shirt available through my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Francesca-Lia-Block/137738942987727?ref=hl, and another design in the works, based on these Pinterest boards: http://www.pinterest.com/francescalia/pink-smog/. There may even be another sequel, featuring Witch Baby and Angel Juan in their early 20’s in New York. Here’s to another quarter century.
Flb and Weetzie Bat