Today I’m sharing with you the first of my new series, interviewing our favourite authors! I hope to do this at least once a week (but more realistically, whenever I can). If you’re an author who is interested in answering some questions, feel free to contact me! Either on Facebook or by email!
Tony Riches is a name that I’m sure anyone reading this knows. He has quite a few books about the Tudors, starting with Owen Tudor. In a mere few weeks, Tony will release his latest novel, Katherine – Tudor Duchess is the topic of today’s interview, and is currently available for preorder until October 1, 2019 when it is released.
Tony has graciously answered several questions about his book, and writing style. There is some interesting bits of information below for those of you who are fans of his series!
Tudor Writing Circle: Historical Novelist Tony Riches
Historical fiction author Tony Riches talks about how he began writing about the Tudors, and his new book, Katherine – Tudor Duchess.
When did you begin writing? Was a novel something you always wanted to write?
I wrote for several magazines and had a successful book on Project Management – but I’d always wanted to write a novel which brought history to life. I was born in Pembroke, within sight of the impressive castle where Henry Tudor was born, so decided to research his life and times. The result was my best-selling Tudor trilogy, where Henry is born in the first book, comes of age in the second and becomes became King of England in the third.
How long do you typically spend writing?
I write every day from September, aiming to have about twenty-five chapters of around four-thousand words, which I send off to my editor by June. I spend the summer on research visits, exploring the Tudor locations I’ll be writing about. This year I visited Katherine’s home at Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire – and her amazing tomb in St James’ church at Spilsby.
Who do you look up to as a writer?
I’ve just finished reading Tombland, by one of my favourite authors, C J Sansom. I particularly like the way he’s followed the journey of his fictional character, Matthew Shardlake, through the whole of Henry VIII’s reign.
What was your inspiration in wanting to write Katherine – Tudor Duchess?
My previous book was Brandon – Tudor Knight, about the amazing life of Charles Brandon, champion jouster and King Henry VIII’s best friend. Katherine Willoughby appears as Charles’ nine-year-old ward and future bride for his son, but when his wife Mary Tudor dies, Brandon decides he should marry young Katherine himself.
As well as enabling me to complete Charles Brandon’s story, I became fascinated by the events of Katherine’s life. Her mother was Catherine of Aragon’s Spanish lady in waiting, and she knew every one of Henry VIII’s wives, as well as all his children. My new book also leads up to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth I and my new Elizabethan series.
Throughout the writing process, how did your character change from when you first began, to when you finished?
I decided to begin Katherine’s story in 1528, when she was nine years old and learns she is to become the ward of the Duke of Suffolk. She’d led a sheltered life with her mother, so the Brandon household must have been quite a revelation – although she did have Brandon’s daughters for company. Throughout the book Katherine ages thirty years, so I’m able to follow her emotional maturity, and explore how she becomes a champion of religious reform – at great risk to herself and her family.
Did you change direction at all during the writing of the novel?
I like to have a clear outline before I begin, although I (unexpectedly) began to feel some sympathy for the ailing King Henry, so decided to make him less of an ogre. There were rumours that he might have married Katherine after Charles Brandon’s death, but she beat him to it and married for love.
What are you hoping readers get from Katherine – Tudor Duchess?
I believe Katherine is one of the most intriguing but least understood ladies of the Tudor court, so I hope my new book will help put that right. I would also like to bring more perspective to the events at the end of King Henry VIII’s reign, as this was not covered well in my history lessons.
Do you have plans to write any more books?
Yes, I am now researching for my new Elizabethan series, starting with the adventures of Francis Drake. I thought I knew quite a bit about Drake, but am finding he had an important role in the development of the slave trade, and was a much more complex character than the popular image of him. I’m also thinking of looking at Raleigh’s life for the next book in the series, and his long imprisonment in the Tower of London (definitely revisiting there next summer!)
What is your advice for someone who would like to write their first novel?
Find a subject that interests you then study everything you can about the it, noting authentic details and finding an original angle. I try to make sure my books are as historically accurate as possible, so that means tracking down original sources, and visiting the actual places. For example, when I was researching Henry Tudor’s time in exile, I could not have written about it so well without visiting Forteresse de Largoët in remote Brittany.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle when it comes to writing?
New writers have told me they don’t know where to start, so once you’ve gathered the information you need, it’s useful to plan an outline which acts as a ‘route map’ for your character’s journey. Many people also say they don’t have the time to write a book, but if you can only write one page a day, that’s a book a year.