Today I’m talking to Tony Riches, author of best-selling historical fiction novels and book blogger, who lives by the sea in Pembrokeshire, Wales UK.
Looking at your blog The Writing Desk, I noticed it’s centred towards new writers with insightful and relevant information to help them succeed. What inspired you to do this, to help other authors out with their writing?
One of the great things about the writing community is the enthusiasm for sharing ideas and useful tips. I really appreciated this when I started out as a writer – and it is really rewarding when new writers tell me I have encouraged them.
You get about 12,000 visitors a month to your writing blog. That is a major accomplishment. What do you think you did that launched that? And do you have any tips for other writers out to help them gain numbers in visitors like you do?
There are several things you can do to build visitor numbers. Write uniquely informative posts that have a timeless quality, as these will have the most repeat visits, even years after they are published. Particularly successful examples are my series on the writing habits of famous authors and my visits to their houses. It really helps if you ask your favourite authors to guest post with something readers won’t find anywhere else. One of my most popular recent posts was by historical fiction author Anne O’Brien about how she writes. Finally you need to make it easy to share your posts widely—mine are all shared with over 15,500 followers on twitter (@tonyriches) as well as over 1,430 friends on Goodreads and 2,000 readers on Google+ and automatically shared on Goodreads via RSS.
I noticed a book of yours called The Secret Dairy of Eleanor Cobham. Can you tell us readers briefly what your book is about and where readers might find your book?
My wife was researching her family tree and discovered that Lady Eleanor Cobham was her 20th great-grandmother—and had been imprisoned for witchcraft and treason. Intrigued, I found that Eleanor was the Duchess of Gloucester and hoped to become Queen of England before her interest in astrology leads her enemies to accuse her of a plot against the king. Found guilty of sorcery and witchcraft, King Henry VI orders Eleanor to be imprisoned for life. I visited Beaumaris Castle where she was held on Anglesey in North Wales and imagined what she would have written if she had kept a diary—The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham. My novel is historical fiction but carefully researched and the only full account of Eleanor Cobham’s life. It is available in paperback and eBook on Amazon UK, Amazon US and Barnes & Noble as well as Smashwords. There is a short video trailer on YouTube.
What would you say is your inspiration for writing?
Like many authors, I started writing for magazines and journals, then wrote a number of non-fiction books, including a best-selling book on project management. Since then I have been fortunate to have had some success—although it is feedback from readers that keeps me inspired. Last month a reviewer said about The Secret Diary that, “It’s been years since a book made me cry. The story of Eleanor Cobham is a powerful story that will stay with me for ages.”
What would you say helps you write the way you do?
I am lucky in that I can write full time and am free to travel when and where I want to do the research for my books. I also have the time to read a great deal, and I try to publish book reviews on my writing blog and Goodreads at least once a month. My wife is very supportive and kindly reads every draft before it even goes to my editor.
Can you tell us about some of the other books and novels that you have written? How many novels have you written up to date? And do you have any series?
I have written four novels and five non-fiction books, details of which are on my WordPress site. My first historical fiction novel, Queen Sacrifice, came from the idea of bringing a real chess game to life, with the whole of Wales as the ‘chessboard’ and thirty-two characters, kings and queens, bishops, knights and pawns, each with an interesting back-story. My only contemporary novel, The Shell, was inspired by a dangerously close encounter when on holiday in Kenya. Since then I have become fascinated by the fifteenth century and wrote Warwick: The Man Behind The Wars of the Roses, which is still the only novel about the life of Sir Richard Neville, also known of as the ‘kingmaker’.
What would you say to writers who are trying to make a name for themselves? What advice can you give?
I read once that it usually takes at least three novels before a writer ‘learns the craft’. I think I understand that now, as it does seem a little easier each time. It is worth investing a little time in building your readership, which you can do through your own writing blog and appropriate use of social media. I have a little ebook How to Build Your Online Author Platform: 100 Practical Tips which new authors should find useful.
Also remember that most authors are rejected before they become famous—take a look at this Telegraph article. Finally, remember that a page a day is a book a year, so keep writing!
I’d like to thank Tony for this interesting and informative interview and for all the very useful tips for all writers.