Hi Tony, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Hi Judith – and thank you for inviting me. I’m a full-time historical fiction author, based in Pembrokeshire, Wales, specialising in the stories of the Tudors. I have a degree in Psychology and an MBA from Cardiff University, and previously worked as a Director of the National Health Service and a Chief Officer in Local Government.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I used to write for a range of magazines and always thought I’d like to try writing a book. My first attempt was an eBook on project management – which astounded me by becoming a best-seller in the US – and the rest is history!
Which writers inspire you?
I read widely in different genres, but my favourite authors are Hilary Mantel and C.J. Sansom. I’ve just finished Alison Weir’s new book, Katheryn Howard, The Tainted Queen and was certainly inspired by her writing.
Would you tell us about your latest book?
I’ve been planning an Elizabethan series for some time, as my aim is to tell the stories of the Tudors from Owen Tudor’s first meeting with Queen Catherine of Valois through to the death of Queen Elizabeth. I decided to show the fascinating world of the Elizabethan court through the eyes of the queen’s favourite courtiers, starting with Francis Drake. I’ve enjoyed tracking down primary sources to uncover the truth of Drake’s story – and discovering the complex man behind the myths.
Where can we buy or see it?
Drake – Tudor Corsair is available in paperback and eBook editions from:
How much research do you do?
I usually spend a year on the research for a book, and like to visit as many of the actual locations as possible. During the research for Drake – Tudor Corsair is was lucky to have a private tour of the replica Golden Hinde in London. Drake’s flagship, and the only one to survive his circumnavigation, the replica was made to the same measurements as the original, and is only 121 ft 4 in long. The visit helped with authenticity in my writing, and I realised she must have seemed vulnerable in the many storms Drake encountered.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I used to research in the summer months, write through autumn and winter, and edit in the spring. I like to wake early and write at least 500 words before lunch – and am usually writing one book while researching the next.
Where do your ideas come from?
They say truth is stranger than fiction, and that’s certainly true with the stories of the Tudors. I spend a lot of time hunting for those little fascinating details which can bring a story to life. For example, I found that Drake wore a scarf of green silk which was a personal gift from the queen, embroidered in golden thread with: The Lord guide and preserve thee until the end. Drake believed the message was Elizabeth’s own handiwork and, with a sailor’s superstition, thought it a token of good luck.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
I am lucky to have an excellent professional editor, but must admit that revising a hundred thousand words down to ninety thousand or so can be hard work.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
I had a wealth of first-hand accounts from Drake and his crew – but all written from their own point of view, and often contradicted each other, even with the names of places and ships. Drake had to take care not to reveal that the queen’s hand was on his tiller, and even his chaplain used code names to refer to crew members.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
I immerse myself in the characters and their world, and sometimes I wake with entire passages of dialogue in my head. I have to write it down as quickly as I can, as some of my best work has been done like this.
For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
A Kindle full of books is best for holidays, but my house is full of hard back books. I find it hard to let go of any, but I’m running out of bookshelf space, so am trying to introduce a ‘one in one out’ system.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
The best place is my author website: https://www.tonyriches.com, which has details of all my books with links. I also have a popular blog, The Writing Desk: https://tonyriches.blogspot.com and am active on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tonyrichesFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/tonyriches.author
I’ve now had over 40,000 downloads of my Stories of the Tudors Podcasts: https://tonyriches.podbean.com and readers can also find me on -Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5604088.Tony_Riches