Meet Kristina Pérez.
Kristina Pérez is a half-Argentine/half-Norwegian native New Yorker. She has spent the past two decades working as a journalist and academic in Europe and Asia. She is the author of The Myth of Morgan la Fey and holds a PhD in Medieval Literature from the University of Cambridge.
As a journalist, her work has appeared in the South China Morning Post, Wall Street Journal Asia, CNN, and Condé Nast Traveler, among others. She has taught at the National University of Singapore and the University of Hong Kong.
She has a penchant for non-defanged vampires, fringe science, ice skating, and dulce de leche.
Sweet Black Waves is her debut young adult novel.
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Your upcoming YA, Sweet Black Waves, focuses on a the tale of Tristan and Eseult. What made you want to spin a tale of forbidden romance, war, and family conflict based on this classic?
While I was doing my PhD in Medieval Literature, I ended up teaching the Old French versions of the Tristan legends one semester and became fascinated by the character of Branwen (often called Brangaine in the French). In the medieval legends, 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. Consequently, Branwen becomes embroiled in 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. So that’s what I did! I’ve taken some liberties from the original so that the reader won’t quite know what’s going to happen, and I’ve put Branwen at the center of the story––where I believe she belongs.
What is your favorite aspect of writing a forbidden romance?
One of the best things about writing a forbidden romance is that the stakes are inherently high. To quote the Bard, “The course of true love never did run smooth,” and the obstacles presented by a romance that is in direct conflict with another aspect of a character’s life helps me, as an author, to dig deep into that character’s motivations. Keeping secrets and the fear of discovery are other great ways to test the love relationship as well as the character’s conscience. Plus, it’s tantalizing!
As Branwen took life on the page, what was your favorite and then least favorite characteristic she showed you?
Branwen’s loyalty is her guiding principle and it’s both her best and worst characteristic. When the story opens, she is fervently devoted to her kingdom of Iveriu and her cousin, Princess Eseult. Those loyalties soon come into conflict with her growing feelings for a half-drowned man she rescues from the waves––who happens to be from the enemy kingdom of Kernyv. Branwen’s actions are compelled by her desire to be loyal to all those she cares about, which leads her to do increasingly rash, ruthless, and dangerous things.
Is there anything you’d like to share with the readers today?
In the mists of time known as 1998, I lived in Ireland and studied Celtic Civilisation at University College Cork. While I was writing Sweet Black Waves, I went back to Ireland and did a road trip, scouting locations for my Iveriu. I wanted to share a photo with your readers of the coast and the waves, which mean so much to Branwen.
Sweet Black Waves comes out next week! Are you ready?