The world of YA literature-cum-cinema has been very much about darkness of late -- from the dystopian morass of "The Hunger Games" and "Divergent" to the pang of death and loneliness inherent in "The Fault In Our Stars" and "All The Bright Places." The most recent YA novel to get optioned for the big screen, though, is more airy than all that -- although no less moody and magical.
Yup, every little outsider's own personal bible is coming to the big screen -- 25 years after its initial release: Francesca Lia Block's "Weetzie Bat."
Although she never intended to be a YA author, Block's magical realism-laden series has become a massive cult classic in the genre. It follows a girl named Weetzie; her pals Dirk and Duck; her husband, My Secret Agent Lover Man; and her children, Cherokee and Witch Baby. Over the years, the books' influence has only seemed to grow -- from copping a mention on a recent episode of "Girls" to cropping up (multiple times) on teen sites like Rookie.
As the film takes shape -- and all of us Weetzie fans attempt not to freak out (too much) -- MTV News spoke with Block about a silver-screen dream 25 years in the making.
MTV: So why now? Why is this book becoming a movie so many years later?
Francesca Lia Block: I think a lot has to do with the director, Elgin James. Just meeting him and having him really understand it. That's probably the main thing.
Also, I think the mainstream culture is more accepting of some of the aesthetic aspects of it, as well as some of the deeper themes and ideas behind it. It was more of a cult kind of thing for many years and now I've noticed that Weetzie seems to have entered the mainstream because the mainstream has changed. Like being mentioned on 'Girls' and Tavi Gevinson has sort of embraced her from early on and is now such a big star. I think those elements are at play for sure.
MTV: So what can you tell us about the movie so far?
Block: I'm just working with Elgin right now -- he's very committed to it and he has amazing ideas for casting that I can't yet share. As far as the story, we've been talking in-depth about that and the screenplay. We still have a ways to go, but the vision is very clear. He did a lookbook and I've been doing Pinterest boards -- and we've had fans adding to those, which is really fun as well.
And talking about things like music -- we had an amazing moment where we were in a meeting and he said, 'You know, I kind of hear these obscure bands from the early-'80s punk scene, like the Suburban Lawns. To me that would be like the 'Weetzie' soundtrack.' I looked at him and I go, 'The Suburban Lawns? Who even knows who they are? That was exactly what I was listening to when I was writing.' He was part of that scene -- he was in punk bands. He was a musician. He knows that world better than I do.
MTV: So the book was set in the '80s, like you said. Will the movie be, too?
Block: Yes, it'll be set in the early '80s, which is something else we really agreed on. I've had people approach me about trying to update it -- but the theme of the beginning of AIDS, which is subtle but important to the book, can't just be dismissed. It's a different story then.
MTV: This is going to be an awesome movie to do costumes and sets for. The 'Weetzie' series has such a strong aesthetic.
Block: I know! I've talked to Elgin in detail about my ideas for costumes and it was the most fun part. That's my fantasy job. I know everything she's wearing in every scene of the book.
MTV: Will the movie just be about Weeztie? I know you have a bunch of books about her kids too?
Block: Just Weetzie. This character, she feels like a real person to me because she's been in my life almost my entire life. Since I created her at 16.
MTV: I was just hoping to see her daughter Witch Baby. She's my favorite.
MTV: There's obviously been a lot of YA books being made into movies. Will your movie be for teens? I know 'Weetzie' wasn't initially written to be YA.
Block: The intention is not to make a teen movie. I think it's more for a certain kind of person rather than for an age -- which is how I feel about my books, too. I don't really write them for an age. I write them for a type of person -- usually an outsider, a creative type of person who believes in a humanistic outlook. Rather than an age.
MTV: Are you writing any more books in the 'Weetzie' series?
Block: I have an idea for a book that I really want to do with Witch Baby as an adult, but I'm not sure what the status of it is. I would really like to write it. It would be dark, magical realism and it would have a little relationship to the Isis/Osiris myth. But there's a lot on the table now.
MTV: She's my favorite for sure. I actually see a lot of girls on Instagram and stuff named Witch Baby. Pin-up girls and whatever.
Block: This is an interesting cultural shift. I always used to hear from girls who liked Witch Baby the most and identified the most with her. Weetzie was second. Then it switched and the emphasis became on Weetzie. She's the light -- everything light about her. But a lot of close friends of mine identify with the slightly more angst-ridden Witch Baby character.