Today I had the pleasure of talking to best-selling historical fiction author Tony Riches. Tony is a full time author and lives in Pembrokeshire, one of the most unspoilt areas of the UK. Read the interview below!
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: Like many authors, I wrote for magazines and journals before self-publishing my first book on Amazon four years ago. It was a short ebook about how everyone can use the principles of Agile Project Management and was a surprising success. I went on to write non-fiction books on subjects as diverse as the story of Scott’s Antarctic ship, the Terra Nova, to Atlantis, about the last flight of the NASA Space shuttle. Now my focus is very much on historical fiction and I have become something of an expert on the rise of the Tudor dynasty.
Q: What inspires your writing? Do you have a muse?
A: My muse is my wife, Liz, who always encourages me to write and helps me develop my ideas and characters. It was Liz’s idea for me to write The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham – about her ancestor who was condemned as a witch and imprisoned for life.
Q: What was the main idea behind your series The Tutor Trilogy?
A: Everyone knows about King Henry VIII and his daughter, Queen Elizabeth Ist – but I was surprised to discover there were no books about the amazing story of Owen Tudor, the Welsh servant who married a queen and founded the Tudor dynasty. I discovered several accounts of the life of Henry Tudor (who later became King Henry VII and began the Tudor Dynasty) but there were no novels that brought his own story to life. The idea for the Tudor Trilogy occurred to me when I realized Henry Tudor could be born in book one, ‘come of age’ with the help of Owen’s son, Jasper Tudor, in book two, and rule England in book three, so there would be plenty of scope to explore his life and times.
Q: Have you always been interested in history? What sparked your passion?
A: Yes – and I enjoy visiting historic sites, so the research for my books is always fun. In June I’m off to explore chateaus in Brittany where Jasper and Henry Tudor lived in exile. I think my passion was ‘sparked’ by the Hollywood historical epics, which raised more questions than they answered – and led to me reading the original sources.
Q: Is there a particular time in history that you find most interesting? If so, when and why?
A: I was born within sight of Pembroke Castle, so I feel a special connection with Henry Tudor, who was born there. My historical fiction books have so far been set in the fifteenth century, during what have become known as ‘The Wars of The Roses’ – and I have a wealth of books I’ve collected over the years on life in the period. As a writer I’m glad there are plenty of detailed records of the time – but it’s still little known by most readers, which means they can learn a lot from my books.
Q: If you could travel back in time, when would you go and where would you visit?
A: I’d like to return to Pembroke Castle at Christmas 1460 and find a way to warn Owen Tudor and his son Jasper NOT to take on the army of Edward of York!
Q: Which of your books has been the most fun to write?
A: I’ve particularly enjoyed writing my last book, JASPER, as the hero Jasper Tudor has some great qualities. He never forgot his promise to his brother’s widow, Lady Margaret Beaufort, to always look after her son, Henry Tudor. In the new book he narrowly escapes York’s army and flees with his nephew Henry to exile in Brittany. In an unlikely and daring move, they then return to England with an army to seize the throne for Henry.
Q: How much ‘grunt work’ goes into each of your books?
A: One of the great things about writing historical fiction is that I have the ‘framework’ of my historical research – so all I have to do is ‘fill in the gaps’. I’ve developed a good system of writing 25 chapters, each around 4000 words long, to arrive at a first draft of 100,000 to reduce in the editing by around 5000 words. The whole process takes about a year, as I allow about six months for the first draft, then about three for editing and revisions. I try to have a long summer break, as my main interests are sailing and sea kayaking, so I like to have the best of the weather. When I first started writing novels I kept making improvements to the final draft but experience makes it easier to know when it’s time to publish.
Q: Are you currently working on any writing projects? If so, what can you tell me about them?
A: I’m now researching book three of my Tudor trilogy, which explores the life of King Henry VII. Henry Tudor was born in book one, and book two takes him up to the Battle of Bosworth, so the final book will follow his life from there to his death at Richmond Palace on the 21st of April 1509. It will be published in the spring or early summer next year
Q: What is something you want the world to know?
A: I’m sure there are many people who know they could write a novel – if only they had the time. I’d like them to realize that simply writing one page a day is a book a year, so even if you still have to juggle other responsibilities, write something, every day, until it becomes a habit, which it will.
Book Trailers- The Tudor Trilogy
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