Kristina Pérez: interview to celebrate the release of BRIGHT RAVEN SKIES

I'm so excited today to wish a Happy Book Birthday to my fellow Electric18s debut, Kristina Pérez! And it's not just any book birthday - it's the third, and final, book in Kristina's beautiful and romantic trilogy that started with the release of SWEET BLACK WAVES in 2018! 

I first interviewed Kristina two years ago for my essay on bilingualism and creativity for YA Interrobang (which you can read here), but as I only got to use a short quote from Kristina that time, I wanted to publish my interview with her - and what would be the better moment to do so to help Kristina celebrate her latest release! So, please make yourself comfy, get a cuppa, and scroll down for an interview with Kristina Pérez!

Please find more info about Kristina's books, including buy-links here.

BRIGHT WAVES SKIES is the thrilling conclusion to the lush and heart-wrenching romantic fantasy trilogy about ancient magic, warring families, and star-crossed lovers by Kristina Pérez.

To save the kingdom, Branwen embraced the darkest aspects of her magic. But she may have lost herself––and the two people she loves most.

Tristan and Eseult are missing. As Branwen searches for them, she must hide the truth surrounding their disappearance from both the king and her lover. Above all, she must find the Queen and her Champion first.

New and old enemies circle Branwen, clamoring for power and revenge, and threatening to destroy the fragile peace that she has sacrificed everything to secure.

Katya asks: How many languages do you speak? What are they?

Kristina: I grew up speaking Spanish with my father’s family and Norwegian with my mother’s, although English was the main language spoken at home. I also speak fluent French and picked up basic Mandarin while living in Beijing. As a medievalist, I also read Old French, Occitan, Old Norse, Middle English and spent some time studying Middle Welsh and Old Irish as well. My high school Latin can be useful in old cemeteries!

Katya asks: Which language do you consider your ‘first language’? Has that situation changed for you throughout your life, e.g. you now consider more than one language your ‘first language’?

Kristina: I consider English to be my “first language” although there are certain words that I would always say in Spanish or Norwegian. I dream in other languages sometimes and my internal monologue often switches between them.

Katya asks: Growing up, how would you describe your relationship with the English language?

Kristina: It was the language I used at school and it was sort of the neutral zone language that belonged to neither side of my family, if that makes sense? I didn’t feel an emotional attachment to it the same way I did the languages that I associated with the two different sides of my family and their correspondingly different cultures.

Katya asks: (Approximately) at what age did you start to learn/speak English? Did you speak English at home, outside of home, with friends, at school, etc.?

Kristina: It was my first language, so I guess around 18 months? I was the only Latinx person in my grade until junior high, so I spoke English with friends from school. I started going to Norwegian sleep away camp when I was eight years old and spoke to my friends from camp in a mixture of Norwegian and English.

Katya asks: How would you describe your relationship with the English language literature – have you been reading books in English as a child? What about music, poetry?

Kristina: I read primarily English language books until high school when I started reading more in Spanish. I did read some Norwegian children’s books and picture books growing up. When I was a teen, Latinx music was only starting to become really popular in the US, so I would buy CDs of Spanish language music when I went to visit my relatives in Argentina during the summers. The cadence of Spanish is inherently musical, at least to me, so I probably prefer listening to Spanish language music aesthetically. A-HA is still probably the only well-known Norwegian pop group and they sang in English!

Katya asks: Do think being a bi/tri-lingual writer influences your writing craft – your (debut) book, as well as your writing process more generally? If yes, in what way?

Kristina: Definitely. In my debut, I have three primary languages that my characters speak and each of them is imbued with its own culture and historical background. Since the world of Sweet Black Waves is a second-world fantasy based fairly closely on Post-Roman Britain and Ireland, I created languages based on Latin and the Celtic language groups. I also endowed my characters with my own experience of switching between languages and how that affects their personalities and relationships. We articulate our identities through language and as languages change, so do we. Not everything translates. I feel more comfortable sharing different parts of myself in different languages, am better able to express myself depending on the vocabulary at my disposal. I think bi/tri-lingual readers will recognize some of their own experiences in those aspects of my characters.

Katya asks: Anything else you’d like to add/highlight here on the topic of bilingual writers, their/our relationship with language, and creativity?

Kristina: I think that being bi/trilingual gives us an inherent advantage because we have access to a greater cultural lexicon that we can deploy in the creation of our worlds and characters.

Kristina Pérez is the author of THE MYTH OF MORGAN LA FEY (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). She holds a PhD in Medieval Literature from the University of Cambridge.

Her debut YA Fantasy, SWEET BLACK WAVES––a Tristan and Iseult retelling––was published by Imprint/Macmillan on June 5th, 2018. The sequel, WILD SAVAGE STARS was published on August 27th, 2019. The conclusion to the trilogy, BRIGHT RAVEN SKIES will be released on August 25th, 2020.

Writing as K.K. Pérez, her first YA Sci-Fi, THE TESLA LEGACY was published by Tor Teen on March 12, 2019.

She is a literary agent at the Zeno Agency in London, UK representing adult, YA/MG, fiction and non-fiction.


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