Today we’re traveling to Pembrokeshire, Wales to chat with best-selling historical fiction author Tony Riches about how a life-sized Henry Tudor statue, a dark oak writing desk, working as a senior project manager, riding zebras, and playing tenor sax come together as part of Tony’s past and present writing life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I write full time in Pembrokeshire, Wales, and was born close to Pembroke Castle, birthplace of Henry Tudor. I used to be concerned that so few people knew about Henry being born here, so a group of us raised the funds for a life-sized statue in front of the castle, which is now a popular tourist attraction.
I’ve followed in Henry and Jasper Tudor’s footsteps from Pembroke Castle and sailed across to see where they ended up in exile in remote Brittany. I then visited Mill Bay in Pembrokeshire, where they returned to an unlikely victory over the army of Richard III at the famous Battle of Bosworth, and Henry was made King of England.
In which genre do you write?
My best-selling books are all historical fiction, although I have written a number of non-fiction books, and one contemporary thriller, The Shell, based on an incident when I visited Mombasa in Kenya with my wife.
Historical fiction covers a wide range, from historical fantasy to ‘alternative’ history, but my books are all based on actual events. I spend at least a year researching original sources and visiting the real locations, so over the years I’ve become an expert on the lives of the Tudors.
A US reader recently told me her son was using my books to help with his history schoolwork, which I take as a great compliment – as well as quite a responsibility to tell the true story.
How many published books do you have?
I’ve written two best-selling trilogies, as well as three ‘stand alone’ historical fiction books, The Shell, and my non-fiction books. My current work-in-progress is the first book of my new Elizabethan series – and my tenth novel.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer and what ignited your author’s flame?
I worked as a senior project manager of major engineering projects, and noticed project management training was focussed on the process, so decided to ‘distil’ my experience in a short eBook about engaging the people effectively through an ‘Agile’ approach. I was amazed when my book became a best seller on Amazon US – and haven’t looked back since.
What is an interesting writing quirk you have, that we wouldn’t know by reading your biography?
I sometimes wake up with an entire dialogue between my characters in my head, and have to write it down before I forget it. Some of my best work has ‘emerged’ this way, so I always keep my laptop by the side of my bed – just in case.
What would you choose as your mascot, spirit animal, or avatar and why?
I was recently listening to author Philip Pullman talking about how he wrote the His Dark Materials trilogy. He said it was easy after he wrote the first sentence – ‘Lyra and her daemon.’ If I could choose my daemon, I’d like it to be a lion, as I’m a Leo.
What does your ideal writing space look like?
I treated myself to a dark oak writing desk, with a green leather writing table, and thought it would be my ideal writing space. Instead I often find I’m writing in my lounge on my laptop with piles of books to each side of me, and a cup of tea. I try not to write when I’m on holiday, but a Greek beachside taverna in Cephalonia (where we went on holiday last summer) would be my perfect place right now.
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading Ian Mortimer’s wonderfully evocative book, The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England. It’s full of fascinating details – many of which will find their way into my current work in progress. (For example, he points out that Queen Elizabeth’s teeth were quite yellow from a young age, and eventually turned black due to her sugar-rich diet.)
List three interesting facts about yourself.
I lived in Nairobi as a child and used to ride a zebra.
I joined the Royal Air Force when I was fifteen years old.
I played tenor sax in a pop group, where I met my wife (who played guitar and sang)
Tell us about your most recent book.
My latest book is Katherine – Tudor Duchess, about the fascinating life of Katherine Willoughby. Attractive, wealthy and influential, Katherine Willoughby was favourite of King Henry VIII, and knew all his six wives, his daughters Mary and Elizabeth, and his son Edward, as well as being related by marriage to Lady Jane Grey.
Following Anne Boleyn’s dramatic downfall, Katherine marries the king’s best friend, Sir Charles Brandon, and becomes Duchess of Suffolk at the age of fourteen. Katherine’s friend, Catherine Parr becomes the king’s sixth wife, and they work to promote religious reform. Katherine’s young sons are tutored with the future king, Prince Edward, but when Edward dies his Catholic sister Mary is crowned queen. Katherine’s Protestant faith puts her family in great danger – from which there seems no escape.
Katherine’s remarkable true story continues the epic tale of the rise of the Tudors, which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy and concludes with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, in the Brandon Trilogy.
It was wonderful to meet you and learn more about you, Tony. Thank you for being a part of MTA! –Camilla
Where To Find the Book:
You can find Katherine – Tudor Duchess on Amazon in eBook and paperback, and an audiobook edition is in production:
Connect with Tony:
Find out more at Tony’s author website: https://www.tonyriches.com/ and visit his popular Blog ‘The Writing Desk’: https://tonyriches.blogspot.
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