Friday, April 13, 2012

Interview with Elizabeth Loupas

Earlier this week I read the fascinating historical The Flower Reader, a novel set in 16th-century Scotland featuring a heroine who reads the future from flowers. I'm thrilled to share my interview with author Elizabeth Loupas on her books, her writing, and what she does when she's not writing.

What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction?

It had to have been a horse story. I was horse-crazy when I was a little girl; still am, although I’ve never been fortunate enough to have a horse of my own. I loved Marguerite Henry’s books -- Misty of Chincoteague; Sea Star, Orphan of Chincoteague; King of the Wind; and best of all, The Album of Horses. Wesley Dennis’s illustrations enthralled me. I loved running in the alley behind our house, as fast as ever I possibly could, feeling the wind in my face and imagining I was a long-legged golden filly with a silver mane and tail. Yes, I was the horse in my earliest childhood fictions. Even then I was experimenting with point of view. :)

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I have my best writing days when I get up, make coffee, turn on my computer and write. No email, no peek online, no leafing through research books, no chatting with the Broadcasting Legend™ (my husband, for those of you who haven’t followed his adventures on my blog), not even a journal entry. If I let anything distract me from that pattern, it’s all too easy to fritter the day away. Sorry, Julia Cameron. “Morning pages” don’t work for me. I have to write first, before anything else.

Was The Flower Reader the original title of your book?

It was originally called The Garden by the Sea—-Granmuir, the name of Rinette’s beloved home, is an elision of garràdh-na-muir, a form of old Scottish Gaelic for “garden by the sea.” After that, for a while the book was called The Silver Casket, for obvious reasons. I really wanted to call it The Floromancer, but my editor convinced me people would be more confused than intrigued, and we simplified that to The Flower Reader.

Is Granmuir -- beloved home of Rinette Leslie -- a real location, or inspired by a real place?

Granmuir borrows its general location and situation on a great rock beside the sea from Dunnottar Castle in Aberdeenshire. The ancient chapel supposedly built by Saint Ninian and the pagan spirit of the Green Lady are also associated with Dunnottar.

If you had to pick one flower to represent your time writing this book, what would it be, and why?

I think I would choose heather, both for its ancient connection with Scotland, and its power to sooth shattered nerves.

George Buchanan, a Scots historian and scholar who makes a cameo appearance in The Flower Reader as the author of the Apollo masque, and was ultimately a tutor to Queen Mary’s son James, wrote that beds of heather “... are almost as soft as a feather-bed, but far more wholesome. For heather being naturally a very great drier, doth exhaust superfluous humours, and restores vigor to the nerves, after it hath freed them from such noxious guests; so that they who lie down in the evening weary and faint, in the morning rise up nimble and sprightly.”

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

Read, read, read. Walk with the doggies. Cook and bake—I collect cookie recipes and soup recipes. Garden, both outdoors and indoors—-I’m presently learning to cultivate African violets. Stargazing is one of my passions from childhood—-I love the ancient myths and designs of the constellations.

Read any good books recently?

Lots! Empress of the Seven Hills by Kate Quinn—fantastic, as are all her books. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh—several people have noted the similarly in subject matter between The Language of Flowers and The Flower Reader. The books couldn’t be more different, but The Language of Flowers is gorgeous and fascinating. The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot—a rich and stately evocation of the thirteenth century. Plague Town by Dana Fredsti—from medieval queens to zombies! Dana is in my writers’ group and if you like The Walking Dead, I guarantee you’ll love Plague Town. I’ve also recently read two advance reader copies—Getaway by Lisa Brackmann and Last Will by Bryn Greenwood. Do not miss these books—they are fantastic. Last Will’s coming out later this month, and Getaway’s scheduled for May 1st.

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My thanks to Ms. Loupas for her time! Learn more about her at her website, and follow the blog tour for more reviews.


I'm thrilled to offer a copy of The Flower Reader and a unique flower bookmark to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US only, ends 4/27.


  1. My name is Heather, and I love that you chose that flower as representing the time you spent writing your book! What a great guest post today! I loved the book as well, and it's going on my keeper shelf. I think it has great potential for genre crossover. Thanks for sharing this today!

  2. What a lovely and informative interview! And may I say again the cover of Flower Reader is as lusciously gorgeous as your prose, Elizabeth

  3. Great interview :) She sure sounds like a fascinating heroine and cool subject too

  4. I think she went with the best Title from the ones mentioned in the interview. It caught my attention more than the others.

  5. Hi, Audra,

    Thank you for inviting me into your blog home for this interview... I loved the questions.

    Heather, there are bits of heather in some of my pressed-flower bookmarks, and I am keeping one of the heather ones for myself! :)

    Thanks for the lovely comments, and good luck to all!

  6. I loved the Misty books! I remember reading all kinds of horse books as a child - that was my phase before historical fiction. Great interview.