It’s a great pleasure to have historical fiction author Tony Riches round today to discuss a new release in his Elizabethan series – a period of history I find fascinating. Thanks for coming all the way to Yorkshire, Tony!
Hi Helena, and thank you for inviting me to your blog.
Lovely to meet you, even if just virtually! My first question is, where do you live?
I was born in Pembroke in Wales, close to the castle which is the birthplace of King Henry VII (founder of the Tudor dynasty and why I’ve always been fascinated by the Tudors). After travelling widely, I’ve returned to Pembrokeshire and now live near some of the best beaches in the UK – and only ten minutes from the beautiful River Cleddau, which is perfect for sailing, and home to curlews, white ibis and oystercatchers.
I love Pembrokeshire, too. Such a beautiful part of the country.
Where’s your favourite place in the world?
I spent my childhood in Kenya, and we used to holiday in Mombasa. I returned there with my wife and dived on the coral reef, which has to be one of my favourite places, although Westminster Abbey has so much amazing history it has to take first place.
I spent my early childhood in Uganda, and we used to holiday in Mombasa, too! Very happy memories!
Being a writer is a great job. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
I’ve been lucky, as I’ve had some amazing jobs, from the Royal Air Force to the NHS. The worst job I had was only temporary, supervising a department putting people into court for non-payment of bills, as I encountered genuine hardship. My last job was a senior post in local government, which although rewarding could be quite stressful, so I’m glad to be able to make my living now as a full-time author.
If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you say to them?
I’d love to meet Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, the intriguing subject of my new book. I was lucky to have access to so many of his letters, but there are still a lot of questions which I doubt we will ever have the answers to – including why he never returned to his home in Pembrokeshire!
He sounds a fascinating character, in a fascinating period.
What’s your happiest childhood memory?
I remember the amazement of arriving in Nairobi as a child. I’d previously lived in Malta, but everything about Kenya seemed so exotic and mysterious. We lived in the Ngong hills, and although I now realise it must have been dangerous, it seemed idyllic. I had chameleons and a ‘bush baby’ (a small nocturnal galago) as pets – and rode a zebra.
Those sound like great memories. We had a chameleon as a pet, too, but my memories are of leaving Africa for a cold England, rather than arriving.
What would your Desert Island Disc be?
I have such a wide taste in music it’s impossible to pick one, but the last concert I saw (before the pandemic) was the amazing Celtic Woman Ancient Land tour, and the album has become one of my all-time favourites.
Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll definitely check the album out.
What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?
Cherish your children when they are young, as they grow up so much faster than you expect.
Finally, please tell us about your new release, and where we can find it
My new book, ESSEX – Tudor Rebel is the second in my Elizabethan Series, and tells the true story of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, one of the most intriguing men of the Elizabethan period. Tall and handsome, he soon becomes a ‘favourite’ at court, so close to the queen many wonder if they are lovers.
The truth is far more complex, as each has what the other yearns for. Robert Devereux longs for recognition, wealth and influence. His flamboyant naïveté amuses the ageing Queen Elizabeth, like the son she never had, and his vitality makes her feel young.
I particularly wanted to keep his story as factually accurate and authentic as possible, so immersed myself in the dangerous world of Elizabethan London. During my research I was amazed to find Robert Devereux lived at Lamphey Palace, twenty minutes from my home in Pembrokeshire. I also visited the Devereux Tower and Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of London, (where he lies close to Lady jane Grey and Anne Boleyn).
I hope readers will be able to tell that this book is one I’ve really enjoyed researching and writing, and that I’ve been able to find some of Robert Devereux’s redeeming qualities.
ESSEX – Tudor Rebel is available in paperback and eBook from:
Tony Riches is a full-time UK author Tudor historical fiction. He lives with his wife in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the lives of the early Tudors. As well as his new Elizabethan series, Tony’s historical fiction novels include the best-selling Tudor trilogy and his Brandon trilogy, (about Charles Brandon and his wives). For more information about Tony’s books please visit his website tonyriches.com and his blog, The Writing Desk and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches
Thanks so much for coming to my blog today, Tony. I’ve really enjoyed the insight into your historical novels, and the surprise of discovering some shared memories. Wishing you all the best with release of Essex – Tudor Rebel.
If you’ve enjoyed Tony’s interview as much as I have, or have any questions or comments at all, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you!