February 16, 2012

Interview with Paula Pryke…her writing career & new book, Flowers Every Day


Last year, I featured an interview with the florist Paula Pryke and today I’m delighted to share a Q&A with Paula about her writing career and in particular, her new book, ‘Flowers Every Day’.

How long does it normally take from book idea to it being published?

We work on the outline ideas for a book and then my UK publisher suggests the idea to my US publisher. If they agree, then we take the book to the Frankfurt Book Fair and see if there is any other interest in Europe.

The UK is not a big enough audience for an illustrated book which is expensive to make. We need to have co-editions to make the production profitable. This can take two or three years to get organised!

Sometimes, we re-work the idea with some input from other interested parties. When the sums all add up, a contract is issued!

We meet again to thrash out more details and appoint a designer, editor and a photographer. We’re then ready to start on the book.

This usually takes another year or sometimes even longer from start to finish. I think six months is the fastest turnaround I’ve achieved but that’s impossible with a seasonal book.


Where do the photo shoots take place?

Initially, these all took place in a photographer’s studio but increasingly they’ve occurred on location or in my home.

With my new book ‘Every Day Flowers’, photographs were taken in and around my house near Newmarket in Suffolk, which you can see in the images below.


Where did you get your inspiration for the designs in your new book, ‘Flowers Every Day’?

Nature is by far my best muse. Working seasonally was also very inspirational and using material from my own garden!

Sometimes I have an idea for a design on my own and sometimes I work with one of my experienced staff to bounce ideas around.

I think it can be difficult to be creative in a vacuum. You need feedback and opinions to get the idea moving.

My very picky clients have been responsible for some of my most avant garde designs so I am grateful to them for pushing me!

However, working on a book without a client gives you more freedom to express your own taste and that is always fun!

Where do you source the flowers from for the shoots?

Everywhere! We have some fantastic suppliers and so we get some from New Covent Garden Flower Market, some direct from The Netherlands and of course, some from further away like South America and Africa.

Most of the flowers in my latest book were more home-grown and we used a lot of local English growers.

What do you enjoy most about writing books?

I enjoy the whole process! I love making an idea into a formula that then becomes a flat plan for a new book!

I work with some fabulously talented designers, photographers and editors and so it’s always a team effort.

I love the photography days although they are very long and can be quite stressful! No pain – no gain!

The writing can be fun and I enjoy that part, but sometimes you can stare at a blank screen for a while!! Once I get started it flows and I’ve been working with the same editor for a while, so she knows my weakness and strengths!


How many floristry books have you written and do you have a favourite?

‘Flowers Every Day’ is my fifteenth book. I started my flower business in 1988 and I think I was asked to do my first book about three years later.

‘The New Floral Artist’ was the first and published in 1993. I still look at that book and think it has stood the test of time very well. It was shot by a brilliant advertising photographer Kevin Summers and long before the days of digital photography!

We shot about four arrangements a day.  Now we do about twenty and we see it all on the screen before we know it’s in the bag! I liked those old days in a black studio with Kevin and several van loads of flowers!

Each book has a special memory and ‘Living Colour!’ is another personal favourite.

I had a meeting with my publisher last week and we’re already working on ideas for book number sixteen!


I hope you’ve enjoyed reading Paula’s interview today.  If you’d like to keep up-to-date with her news, she’s on Twitter and Facebook.

Please do tune in at lunchtime today, when I’ll be featuring my review of her new book, together with images of her beautiful arrangements.

(Images : Paula Pryke, Jacqui Small Publishing, Rachel Whiting)

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