Saturday, 15 August 2020

Historical Fiction Author Tony Riches is here to tell us all about his new release.


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:

Amazon US  

Amazon UK  

Amazon CA  

Amazon AU 

 Barnes & Noble 


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:, which has details of all my books with links. I also have a popular blog, The Writing Desk: and am active on Twitter: and Facebook:

I’ve now had over 40,000 downloads of my Stories of the Tudors Podcasts: and readers can also find me on -Goodreads:


Monday, 3 August 2020

The Coffee Pot Book Club presents The Last King by M J Porter

The Last King: England: The First Viking Age (The Ninth Century Book 1)
By M J Porter

They sent three hundred warriors to kill one man. It wasn’t enough.

Mercia lies broken but not beaten, her alliance with Wessex in tatters.

Coelwulf, a fierce and bloody warrior, hears whispers that Mercia has been betrayed from his home in the west. He fears no man, especially not the Vikings sent to hunt him down.

To discover the truth of the rumours he hears, Coelwulf must travel to the heart of Mercia, and what he finds there will determine the fate of Mercia, as well as his own.

An Excerpt from The Last King

As I suspected, I find my Aunt amongst the gravestones of my ancestors, to the rear of the small priory the monks from Gloucester maintain, at my expense.

Her hounds appear to be sleeping at her feet, but I know better. They’re fiercely loyal and can be roused to snapping furies with just a word from her. One of the beast’s growls at me, the sound more terrifying than iron being drawn from a scabbard.

“Down Wiglaf,” my Aunt snaps. I turn to meet the hound’s eyes, and I fear that we both feel equally quelled by her tone. The hounds are named after the men who ruled Mercia after her father was deposed. Not that she had the naming of both of them. I consider that it might pain her, but then dismiss the idea. My Aunt is not the sort of woman to fear to speak a hound’s name.

“King Burgred has always been a bloody coward.” Her coarse words shock me so much I feel my mouth drop open.

She turns to gaze at me, the hint of amusement in her eye, and I consider what she sees when she looks at me. No one has ever said that I resemble my father, but neither have I been told I take after my mother. My blond hair is a mystery to me, my build the result of my warrior skills.

“Did you think I grew deaf every time you and your warriors made Kingsholm your home?”

“I,” I stutter, but nothing else follows the words. She cows me as no one else ever has. Not even my father.

“King Burgred is a coward, and your father was a fool not to stake his claim to the kingdom.” My father could never have ruled. He was a weak man, tormented by the death of his father. I vowed to never be like him.

“You’ll be king now.” It’s not even a question, but a statement.

“How did Bishop W√¶rferth get to you so quickly? Did he sail here?” I turn, as though to seek him out or spy the hint of sails to the west.

My Aunt’s sudden laughter takes me by surprise.

“So, he’s already suggested it to you. Good. At least I don’t have to force you to fulfil your duty.”

Again, my mouth opens, but no words sprout from it.

“The ealdormen will support you. All of them. The bishops as well.”

“I,” I try and speak, but she’s walking to my side, her hand stretched out to touch my arm.

“Mercia suffers because our line has been broken. You’ll heal it.”

“I.” I just can’t find the words to say.

“I know you never wanted this. But I always knew. I think your father and brother did as well.”

“I can’t be king,” I finally manage to force the words beyond my constricted throat.

“But you will be.” And she moves off, no doubt to find the bereaved women and the young girl. My Aunt has never shied away from the responsibilities she feels to the people of Mercia.

One of the hounds follows her, but the other one, the one she chastised, Wiglaf, remains, head low and whining softly. I reach out. Cup the hound’s muzzle, run my hand along his snout. His whining softens, dies away altogether.

Wiglaf was my brother’s hound before he belonged to my Aunt. That accounts for why she cares for it so well. He’s old now.

Only when we’re together, do we give in to our combined sorrow.

Together we walk to my brother’s grave.

It’s been over a decade since his death, fighting for Mercia. His hound is lined with grey and slow to move during the cold winter weather. Watching him struggle to his feet makes me realise how damn old I truly am.

I bend my head and rest my other hand on the gravestone that marks my brother’s grave.

These warriors I ride with were his men.

Edmund was once my brother’s closest ally, even closer than I was to him.

Coenwulf would have made a fine king of Mercia.

“Bugger it,” I complain, standing upright, shocking poor Wiglaf as he lies over my feet, and then struggles to stand.

“Bugger it, arse it.”

There was never a choice.

There rarely is.

Buy Links:

Amazon UKAmazon US

Author Bio: M J Porter

I'm an author of fantasy (viking age/dragon themed) and historical fiction (Early English, Vikings and the British Isles as a whole before the Norman Conquest), born in the old Mercian kingdom at some point since AD1066. I write A LOT. You've been warned!

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