Interview – Tony Riches
The Tudor Trilogy
When did you start writing novels, what moved you to start writing?
After success writing for a wide range of magazines and journals I wrote my first non-fiction book. I’d always read a lot of historical fiction, so when my book became a best-seller in the US, I decided to write about my life-long interest in the history of Wales and the Tudors.
Being an Historical Fiction author and the Tudor Trilogy being a huge success, it must be very important to do a good deal of research. How important is it in this genre to have your facts right and are there any instances when you bend history to fit your story?
I believe historical fiction authors have a responsibility to their readers to use primary research wherever possible. This means I spend at least as long researching as I do writing, personally visiting actual locations and spending hours trawling though ancient documents looking for specific details. It’s also important to be clear when fiction is used to ‘fill in the gaps’. I do this with an author note at the end of each book. Particular care needs to be taken with ‘alternative histories’ and I like to encourage readers to find out more about the real men and women from history I write about.
What is your all-time favourite historical fiction novel? What makes it special?
It would have to be Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, about rise of Thomas Cromwell. I was writing OWEN, the first book of the Tudor Trilogy and was so impressed by the sense of realism through her use of first-person present-tense I went back to chapter one and rewrote the whole book.
Tell us a bit about your writing process.
I aim to write twenty-five chapters of around four thousand words each to arrive at a first draft of around a hundred thousand words for editing. I start as early as five in the morning and try to do most of my research, particularly site visits, in the summer and write in the winter months.
What author would you love to have dinner with?
There are so many. There are loads of questions I’d like to ask Hilary Mantel. It would be amazing to meet Stephen King, as his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft was an inspiration to me when I was starting on this career.
Tell us about your hobbies and passions other than writing.
One of the great things about being an author is I can live by the sea in Pembrokeshire within easy reach of some of the best beaches in the UK. I like to go sailing in my yacht Curlew whenever I can and enjoy sea-kayaking.
We have many followers who would like to start writing a book or are already writing their first novel, any advice for these brave people?
Someone once told me that if you write only one page a day, that’s a book a year – so start today! Don’t work about what people will think or how skilled you are as a writer, as that comes with practice. It’s also vital to find a good editor who understands the outcomes you want – and listen to their advice.
Do you keep a notebook with ideas for your novels? If so do you carry the notebook with you so you won’t forget any ideas?
I sleep with my MacBook at the side of the bed and have been known to wake up with a head full of ideas they just have to be written down. Some of my best ideas come to me in the shower, so a waterproof notepad would be useful.
What are you reading at the moment?
I always have half a dozen textbooks on the go but it’s important to read other historical fiction, so I’m currently enjoying Steven A. McKay’s Forest Lord series.
How is it to be an author in the UK?
There’s never been a better time to be an author, as the internet has transformed research and publishing – and social media means I have a global community for company.
Certainly, you have had some interesting episodes as an author, fans related or others, share one of them with us.
My latest book HENRY Book Thee of the Tudor Trilogy was selected as the only historical fiction finalist in the Amazon UK Storyteller Awards. Until then, I’d never given much thought about the people working ‘behind the scenes at Amazon’, so it was amazing to meet them and see how passionate they are about meeting the needs of authors and readers. It was also really encouraging to have the recognition after writing for so many years.
A final message for circleofbooks.com readers:
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the excellent team at Circle of Books for all the hard work they do supporting authors, raising awareness and interesting new readers.
Thank you Tony. We at circleofbooks.com wish you much success!