Thursday, April 26, 2012

Guest Post: Elizabeth Loupas

Please join me in welcoming Elizabeth Loupas, author of the new book, The Flower Reader to Always With a Book! If you missed my review, you can read it here. Today Elizabeth talks about the how she was able to write like Nostradamus.

by Elizabeth Loupas

It’s hard to write about European courts in the sixteenth century without at least some reference to Michel de Nostredame—Nostradamus. His books of quatrains were kind of the of their day, particularly the blind items. He had a knack for writing flowery, cryptic semi-poetical French sprinkled with Latin, Greek, Italian and Proven├žal, which appeared to make predictions but in actuality could mean just about anything. Probably his most famous quatrain is:

 Le lyon jeune le vieux surmontera,
 En champ bellique par singulier duelle,
Dans caige d’or les yeux luy crevera:
Deux classes une, puis mourir, mort cruelle.

The young lion will overcome the old,
On a field of combat, in a single (or unusual) duel,
In a cage of gold he will put out his eyes,
Two wounds (“classes” is generally taken to be an example of Nostradamus confusing the issue with ancient Greek, in which “klasis” means “fracture”) in one, then to die, a cruel death.

Now this was originally published in 1555, and probably had nothing at all to do with the French king Henri II, who died four years later in 1559; in fact, in 1558 Nostradamus predicted a long and successful life for Henri. But in hindsight (which is always so kind to prophets) there were some startling coincidences:

1. Henri was wounded during a joust, which could be considered a “single duel” on a “field of combat.”
2. His injuries included two splinters from a broken lance, one piercing his throat, the other piercing his eye.
3. His opponent, the Count of Montgomery, was a captain in the king’s Scots Guards—and the heraldic symbol of Scotland is a red lion.
4. The king’s helmet might have had a barred visor resembling a cage, and might have been gilded. He was the king, after all. No one seems to have recorded these details at the time.

Coincidences or not, this single quatrain made Nostradamus’ reputation, at the time and down through the ages. So when I began to write about a mysterious silver casket filled with secrets, connected with the French-raised Mary Stuart in Scotland in the 1560s, what else could the secrets possibly be but fictionalized quatrains of Nostradamus?

I considered never actually revealing the content of the quatrains—writing in Nostradamus’ style is much trickier than it looks. But then I said to myself, “Self, after readers have followed the mystery of the silver casket through four hundred pages or so of adventures, they have a right to know what’s in the darn thing.” And that’s how the fictional “Quatres-Maris” (“Four Husbands”) prophecies were born.

Marriages of royal persons at the time of the story were legitimate political bombshells, and if the notorious seer Nostradamus predicted that Mary Queen of Scots would have four husbands while she was still married to her first one (who just happened to be the King of France), that would indeed be explosive knowledge her political enemies—and friends, for that matter, although in politics does anyone have real friends?—would lie, cheat, steal and kill to possess.

I pored over the real quatrains of Nostradamus for a long time, to get the right feel for the prophecies. And I do share them with the reader, in the end. But as to how and why, and who the four husbands are—well, that you will have to find out for yourself.

About the author: Elizabeth Loupas lives near the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. She is presently a novelist, freelance writer and amateur historian. In other times and other places she has been a radio network vice president, a reference librarian, a business-to-business magazine editor, and a tutor in English literature.

One of her passions is the art and poetry of the Pre-Raphaelites. This led her to the Rossettis and the Brownings, and the project nearest and dearest to her heart--her novel THE SECOND DUCHESS, based on Robert Browning's poem "My Last Duchess."

She hates housework, cold weather, and wearing shoes. She loves animals, gardens, and popcorn. Not surprisingly she lives in a state of happy barefoot chaos with her delightful and faintly bemused husband (the Broadcasting Legend), her herb garden, her popcorn popper, and two beagles.

For more information on Elizabeth Loupas and her novels, please visit her WEBSITE.  You can also find her on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.

Also, be sure to check out all the other stops on the blog tour and follow the tour on Twitter (hashtag: #FlowerReaderVirtualTour)

Thank you Elizabeth for contributing this great guest post and thanks to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for coordinating it.


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