2K18 Member Spotlight: Kristina Pérez
BOOK TITLE: Sweet Black Waves
RELEASE DATE: June 5, 2018
About SWEET BLACK WAVES
Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.
As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what's right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her closest confidant and the only man she's ever loved.
Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend's true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.
Kristina Pérez is a half-Argentine, half-Norwegian native New Yorker. She’s spent the past two decades living in Europe and Asia. She holds a PhD in Medieval Literature from the University of Cambridge and has taught at the National University of Singapore and the University of Hong Kong. As a journalist, her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal Asia, L’Officiel India, Condé Nast Traveler, CNN and the South China Morning Post, among others. She is also the author of the nonfiction title, The Myth of Morgan la Fey (Palgrave Macmillan).
WHAT INSPIRED YOUR BOOK?
I’ve been obsessed with Arthurian literature, especially the female characters, since I was a little kid. In fact, I ended up writing my PhD on King Arthur’s sorceress half-sister, Morgan la Fey. It was during my time as a graduate student that I first became interested in the legend of Tristan and Isolt—in particular, in the character of Branwen, Isolt’s lady’s maid. Branwen is the keeper of the infamous love potion and it’s her mistake that causes Tristan and Isolt to fall in love. She’s a catalyst for many events in the legend but she’s usually overlooked in favor of the lovers. I decided it was time for Branwen to have the spotlight and it’s her story that my novel recounts, using the legend we all know as a backdrop.
BEST ADVICE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS?
Perseverance. The road to publication can be fairly daunting and bumpy. You need to stick to your guns. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Everyone’s journey is different, just focus on the work.
DO YOU HAVE A FURRY WRITING SIDEKICK?
Sadly, no pets. I like cats but the one I had when my husband and I first started dating was old and cranky and kept peeing on the bed because she was jealous. So. No more cats.
WHAT DOES FEARLESS MEAN TO YOU?
To me, being fearless doesn’t mean being without fear. It means being afraid of something but doing it anyway, like skydiving or moving to a foreign country (both of which I’ve done!). Like the old song says, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE AS A KID?
This was my first grade school photo. Much like now, I was incredibly impatient and wiggled out each tooth before it was ready because I wanted that sweet, sweet tooth fairy cash! Despite the smile, first grade was not a great year for me. I had an incredibly hard time learning to read and I got teased a lot about it. I still remember being afraid that I'd never make it to second grade! I may be an author now, but I didn't like to read until a few years later when my elementary school librarian put Tamora Pierce's Alanna: The First Adventure in my hands. I finally found my love of reading by being swept up in Alanna's fantasy world and it's why I write fantasy today.
The second photo is me at 15. I'm smiling so big because I was on my first trip to Italy with my mom. I was a very romantic fifteen-year-old—more in love with the idea of love than with anybody in particular—and this picture was taken at a cafe near the Spanish Steps. The poet John Keats died in a small apartment overlooking the grand staircase and I had just gone to pay homage."
WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?
I’m not a fan of high places with steep drops. I don’t mind observation decks on skyscrapers that are enclosed, but sheer cliff faces are pretty terrifying.
Here's a picture of me facing this fear by crossing a rope bridge last fall in Ireland.
HOW DO YOU APPROACH FEAR IN THE WRITING PROCESS?
Preparation and tunnel vision. I’m a meticulous outliner and I do a huge amount of research before I start any project. Every morning when I sit down to write, I put on my music and tune out everything around me, including the voice of doubt in my head. I keep my eyes on my own paper (literally, since I write longhand!) and narrow my world down to my notebook. I turn off my phone so I can’t be disturbed or check social media, and just get lost in the world of my own making. Reality can come back later!