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Kristina Pérez Talks About Writing Her Tristan And Eseult-Inspired Book
Written by
She Writes
June 2018
Written by
She Writes
June 2018

Kristina Pérez is a half-Argentine, half-Norwegian author who has been all over the globe. Her world travel and PhD in Medieval Literature make her as fascinating a character as the casts in her novels. Her recently released title, Sweet Black Waves, is inspired by the story of Tristan and Eseult and a can’t-miss summer YA read. Get the book Kirkus Reviews called “a thrilling roller coaster” and get to know this interesting author better.

SW: What was your biggest inspiration while writing your book?

KP: The ill-fated love of Tristan and Eseult has always been one of my favorite legends but it was during graduate school that I became fascinated by the character of Branwen, the princess’s lady’s maid. It’s Branwen’s fault that Tristan and Eseult unintentionally drink the infamous love potion. What intrigued me was how she felt about her failure, what led up to it, and what happened afterward. I decided I wanted to tell Branwen’s story.

SW: Which character in your book was most challenging to write about?

KP: Princess Eseult, definitely. In the legends, she’s the heroine and the reader is therefore sympathetic to her being torn between wanting to be with a man she loves and marrying for duty. In SWEET BLACK WAVES, however, the princess becomes the best friend and sometimes foil to my protagonist, Branwen. Eseult and Branwen often have very different views on her political situation. The biggest challenge was therefore to write Eseult so that the reader sympathizes with her even when Branwen doesn’t!

SW: Which authors have most influenced your writing?

KP: When I was in fourth grade, I fell in love with Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series. It made a huge impression on me as a kid and I still reread it every few years. Since I’ve spent my academic life studying medieval literature, I als can’t help but be influenced by the Old French poetry of Marie de France (including one about Tristan and Eseult!) or the Icelandic sagas. I’m also a huge fan of anything creepy or Gothic. I teach a course on vampire literature and I adore Edgar Allan Poe.

SW: Where is your favorite place to write?

KP: A table by a window in the corner of a cafe, sunlight streaming in, coffee in front of me, and listening to my iPod shuffle.

SW: Describe your writing style in three words.

Dark. Heartfelt. Epic.

SW: If you could co-write a book with any author, who would it be?

As an only child, I’m in awe of authors who can co-write without the process devolving into a blood feud. Having said that, maybe one day I’ll talk my dear friend and fabulous Middle Grade author, Kamilla Benko into writing with me!

SW: What is your writing process?

KP: Research, research, research! I’m an unrepentant nerd who adores world building so I often spend months, off and on, researching aspects of the world I want to create from the language to the landscape. I also write incredibly detailed chapter by chapter outlines before I start the actual drafting. Definitely a plotter, not a pantser. By the time I sit down to start writing, I have the world and the story mapped out. I also write everything longhand in purple pen––but hopefull I don’t produce purple prose!


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