Weetzie Bat, Francesca Lia Block's first novel, “burst on the young adult book scene like a rainbow bubble showering clouds of roses, feathers, tiny shells and a rubber chicken,” said Patty Campbell.
The daughter of an artist and a poet, Block grew up in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. She attended North Hollywood High School, living what she described as the “fairy-tale magic” of the city. She received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1986.
Block first wrote poetry and short stories. Later, she began putting together the novel Weetzie Bat, strictly for pleasure. A friend mailed a copy to a publisher, who took an immediate interest.
Block “scares those who evaluate and buy young-adult materials,” commented Patrick Jones. He noted that Block is frequently described as unconventional and controversial. “The controversy centers not so much around the usual suspects—sex, violence, or foul language—but rather the alternative lifestyles of Block's characters. The passion and division which Block creates in the YA world is not new: in fact, it is as old as contemporary young-adult literature itself.” Comparing Block's effect on librarians and critics, as well as readers, to that of S. E. Hinton, Jones said the controversy centers on “tone and language; matter-of-fact attitude (in Block's case, about sex rather than violence); the lack of adults and conventional families; and the overriding concern about becoming a good person in a world filled with death and disaster.”