Kristina Pérez is a half-Argentine, half-Norwegian native New Yorker who has spent the past two decades living in Europe and Asia. She is the author of the Sweet Black Waves trilogy (Imprint/Macmillan), The Tesla Legacy (Tor Teen), and The Myth of Morgan la Fey (Palgrave Macmillan).
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, she’s written for many international news outlets including the Wall Street Journal Asia, Condé Nast Traveler, and CNN.
Currently, she resides in London where she is an Associate Agent at the Zeno Literary Agency, representing clients of both fiction and nonfiction.
Voyage: What was the inspiration behind your Sweet Black Waves trilogy? What made you want to tell this story?
Kristina Pérez: The Sweet Black Waves trilogy is a retelling of the medieval legend of the star-crossed lovers, Tristan and Iseult. Because I am a super nerd, I did my PhD in Medieval Literature and as a graduate student I wound up teaching the Old French versions of the Tristan legends to undergraduates.
I instantly became fascinated by the secondary character of Branwen (often called Brangaine in the French). In the medieval versions, she is the confidant of both Iseult and her mother, the Queen of Ireland. She takes part in conjuring the infamous love potion and it’s Branwen’s fault that Tristan shares the potion with Iseult instead of King Marc, her intended husband.
Branwen then becomes responsible for covering up the affair and keeping the peace between their two kingdoms. I wanted to know how Branwen felt about her mistakes and the part she played in changing history, as well as her feelings for all of the characters involved.
I’ve deviated from the original so that the reader won’t know exactly what to expect, but most importantly I’ve put Branwen at the center of the story––which is where she belongs.
V: When you write your stories, what is the one thing you hope readers will take away?
KP: Self-reliance and learning to trust yourself are the themes that always underpin my stories, whether I set out to write them that way or not. Especially for young women, I hope that my stories will inspire them to live their lives on their own terms and to be gentle with themselves when they make inevitable mistakes.
V: What was the hardest scene of the Sweet Black Waves trilogy to write?
KP: The final installment of the series, BRIGHT RAVEN SKIES just came out in August and by far the hardest scene of the series to write was its very last scene because I had to say goodbye to Branwen. I’ve lived with her for many years and I’m happy about where she ended up (although some readers may disagree!) but she’s been a constant companion I’ve had to close the book on, so to speak.
V: If you could tell your younger writer self anything, what would it be?
KP: That you’ll never have as much time to just enjoy the process of writing after you get published as before you’re published, so try to savor it and not be in such a rush. Publishing is, after all, a marathon and not a sprint.
V: What are your writing must-haves?
KP: Coffee, purple pens, Moleskine notebooks, and a room (or coffee shop!) with a view.
Head to our Instagram page (@voyageya) to hear Kristina read the first page of Sweet Black Waves! Find Kristina’s video under the IGTV tab.