10 questions with historical fiction author Tony Riches; ‘Find your niche’


Author Tony Riches

Tony gained a BA in Psychology and an MBA from Cardiff University. He held senior roles in the NHS and Local Government before returning to Pembrokeshire to write full time. His Tudor trilogy has been a best seller in the US, UK and Australia and his popular blog, The Writing Desk, averages 15,000 visitors a month and his podcast series, Stories of the Tudors has had over 45,000 downloads. When not writing Tony enjoys sailing and sea kayaking. His latest novel, Drake – Tudor Corsair, is on sale now.

1.  What’s your name and where do you come from?

My name is Tony Riches and I was born in Pembroke, within sight of the castle, the birthplace of Henry Tudor, who became King Henry VII.

Pembroke Castle

2.  Do you write fact or fiction and in what genre?

I’ve written several non-fiction books, including Terra Nova, about Captain Scott’s Antarctic exploration ship, with help from his granddaughter, Dafila Scott. I now focus on biographical historical fiction, and bringing the true stories of the Tudors to life. I like my books to be as historically accurate as possible, so I visit all the actual locations, and track down primary sources, such as original letters. Writing historical fiction is like travelling in time, as I enjoy immersing myself in every detail of the period, from the food they eat to the clothes they wear. In my new Elizabethan series, I had to understand what it was like to wear a ruff. (Francis Drake found his ruffs uncomfortable, and couldn’t wait to take them off.)

3.  Are you traditionally or self-published and which route do you consider best?

Three of my books are traditionally published, and my Tudor books are all through Preseli Press, my independent publishing company. I prefer having control over the whole process, and like working directly with a professional editor and commissioning cover artwork. 

4.  What is your work schedule like when you are writing? 

I like to wake early to deal with emails and social media, leaving me free to meet my target of five-hundred words by lunchtime. I try not to revise at the initial draft stage, and keep afternoons free for research. (I’ve been known to wake with scenes or passages of dialogue in my head, so sometimes meet my word-count target before even getting out of bed.)

5.  What advice would you give to budding writers?

Write something every day, until writing becomes a habit – and remember that a page a day us a book a year – and remember to regularly back up your work, as there’s nothing worse than losing your latest draft. I’ve found the key to success is to find your niche and develop a loyal readership. The idea to write trilogies has proven a winning formula, as although they can be read in any order, readers tell me they like the broader scope and depth of a series.


6.  Who/what are your favourite authors/ books?

I was inspired by CJ Sansom’s ‘Shardlake’ series, and I also enjoyed Hilary Mantel’s ‘Wolf Hall’ trilogy. I’ve just finished reading Alison Weir’s new book, Kathryn Howard – The Tainted Queen, which I highly recommend. I read widely across all genres, and have a huge collection of non-fiction books.

7.  Are you a plotter or a pantster? (i.e. do you plan out your work or fly by the seat of your pants?) 

I like to prepare an outline before I start writing, so I know the timeframe and where I’m headed, but it’s flexible. Some chapters have only a single sentence as a guide, such as ‘The Spanish Armada is sighted’ as that’s all I need to set the scene.

8.  What helps you focus?

I agree a target date with my editor for submission of the first draft – and if I miss it the publication of the book would be delayed. I’m fortunate to be able to write full time, so I don’t have the distractions of a day job, and my children have left home.

9.  How long did it take you to write your book/books?

I usually write a book a year, beginning in the autumn, and aim for about twenty-five chapters of around four thousand words to arrive at a first draft for editing in the spring. I like to keep the summer free for research visits and developing ideas for next year’s book.

10.  Where can we find your book/s? 

All my books are available in eBook and paperback in thirteen countries via Amazon. I also have eight audiobooks, and my Tudor Trilogy has been translated into Spanish and Portuguese.

Tony Riches' Tudor Trilogy
Tony Riches’ Tudor Trilogy

You can find out more about Tony and his work at www.tonyriches.com and his popular blog The Writing Desk, and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches. His latest novel Drake – Tudor Corsair is out now.

Links for Tony:
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tony-Riches/e/B006UZWOXA
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tony-Riches/e/B006UZWOXA
Website: https://www.tonyriches.com/
Writing blog: https://tonyriches.blogspot.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tonyriches
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tonyriches.author
Podcasts: https://tonyriches.podbean.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5604088.Tony_Riches

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