Today it's the start of week two of the blog tour for Ella Griffin's latest book The Flower Arrangement, which was published last week, and it's my pleasure to welcome Ella to the blog to answer a few questions from Emma and myself.
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book The Flower Arrangement?
The heart of the book is Blossom & Grow, a tiny florist in the heart of Dublin. The owner, Lara, is at heart of the story and we meet her family and all the customers who come through the doors of her beautiful shop.
Her marriage has been frozen since she lost the child she longed for when she was 24 weeks pregnant. She pours her heart into the flowers and the customers. She had q unique ability to translate their feelings into flowers. She’s a kind of healer, really, but she doesn’t seem to realise that she needs healing too.
What inspired you to have Lara start a new business, the florist shop, as opposed to any other type of coping mechanism to help her come to terms with her grief?
Her father used to bring flowers home for her mother every Friday when she was alive. After she died, he was heartbroken. He couldn’t stop buying the flowers so he brought them home for Lara. They became part of her healing and her close bond with him. She has always wanted to be a mother herself and finally manages to get pregnant but loses her baby 24 weeks into her pregnancy. Flowers healed her when she was a child who lost a mother. She opens a flower shop hoping that flowers will heal her now that she is a mother who lost a child.
Did you have much of an interest in flowers before writing this book or was a lot of research needed especially regarding flowers and their meanings?
I have always loved flowers. One of the first flower names I remember my mother teaching me was ‘celandine’. When I started working, I used to buy flowers for myself and she despaired. She wanted me to save my money for a mortgage. But I think, deep-down that she understood. She loved flowers too. She used to wryly quote the Chinese proverb that appears at the beginning of the book.
‘When you have only two pennies left in the world, spend one on bread and the other on a flower. The bread will sustain life. The flower will give you a reason to live.’
You say Lara translates her feelings into flower arrangements. So if you were to make your own bouquet what would you include?
What a beautiful question! I’d choose jasmine to remind me of meeting my husband in Greece. Both of my parents are gone now, so I’d have sweet peas to remind me of my mother’s garden and Montbretia, a kind of wild iris to remind me of the hedgerows of west Clare, where my father was from.
What do you think it is about books based in flower shops, cafes & chocolate shops have become so popular recently?
I don’t know about the cafes and chocolate shops. But I love that flowers are woven every significant moment in our lives and every bouquet tells a story. A new birth, an old friendship, a declaration of love, a sad goodbye. The florist plays her part in all those stories so I thought she would make a great heroine and that her shop would be a wonderful heart for the book.
What are your own favourite flowers?
Apart from the ones in the bouquet above? I love peonies and anemones and Avalanche roses. I could go on!!!
What can we expect from you next?
I’m deciding on the plot for my fourth novel, at the moment. It’s very early days so I’m afraid to say anything about it! All I know is that this time next year it will be finished!
What does your typical writing day look like?
My days work best when I start early and get four hours done before lunchtime. Then another two before my husband gets home at six. Someone told me once that you should write in 50 minute stretches and take 10 minute breaks. I find that, when I can discipline myself to do that, it works brilliantly! I do set myself a writing target but I’m not too hard on myself if I fall short. I know I’ll make it up later!
What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
Write every day, without fail for 21 days. Don’t worry about what you’re writing. Just make writing part of your life. That and the Nike slogan. Just do it!
Did you have any exciting plans for publication day?
Publication day was very hectic. I was busy writing blog posts and articles preparing for radio interviews. But I’m meeting my wonderful editor Kate Mills for a posh lunch in Dublin tomorrow. And having a launch on Tuesday in The Gutter Book Shop in Dublin. All my family and friends will be there along with wonderful fellow writers like Marian Keyes, Cathy Kelly and Kate Kerrigan. There will be wine and roses and my friend Jenny’s wonderful home made biscuits. She is crystallising rose petals from her garden right now to decorate them with.
Do you treat yourself anything nice when you publish your books?
If I can, I try to take a holiday. A week of sunshine is the most beautiful reward I can imagine!
Finally where would your perfect writing retreat be?
Another beautiful question! It would be a cave room in a small hotel outside Lendas in South West Crete with a floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Libyan Sea.
Golden peonies bowing their heads beneath blue delphinium bells. Delicate pink anemones threaded between freckled green orchids. Soft apricot roses woven together with velvety purple irises.
Every bouquet tells a story.
And every story begins at Blossom & Grow, a tiny jewel-like flower shop in the heart of Dublin. Here, among the buckets of fragrant blooms, beneath the flickering candles and lanterns, Lara works her magic. Translating feelings into flower arrangements that change hearts and lives.
But what about her own heart? Has she really healed since she lost her chance to be a mother? What will happen when her own story takes a sudden turn?
Can the flowers that heal the customers work their magic on the florist?