Essex – Tudor Rebel | Tony Riches | An Epic Elizabethan Tale

Welcoming Tony Riches today, a wonderful Tudor author. I’m excited to hear more about Essex, for certainly he is one of the most flamboyant of Elizabeth’s favourites. I also share a secret wish with Tony to be “locked up” in the Tower. Our research has taken us both to Walter Ralegh’s cell in the Bloody Tower, and I agree, Tony, it would be marvellous to come and go as we wish at all times of the day and night! However, back to your latest novel, and the enigmatic Robert Devereaux…

ESSEX – Tudor Rebel
(Book Two of the Elizabethan Series)
Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, is 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.
Robert Devereux’s remarkable true story continues the epic tale of the rise of the Tudors, which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy and concludes with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

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Tell us more about your writing, Tony.
If you could go anywhere for a year to be inspired for your next book, what setting would you choose and what would you write?
For my next book I’m researching the life and adventures of Sir Walter Raleigh. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London no less than three times, and although I’ve visited Raleigh’s cell at the Tower, I’d like to have one of the apartments at the Tower and be able to come and go as I please, particularly after visiting hours.
Another perfect place would be Youghal, on the coast of Ireland. I’ve visited Youghal once and it was a favourite place for Raleigh, who returned there as often as he could.
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
Although some authors enjoy the freedom of alternative history, I believe I have a responsibility to be as factually accurate as possible. This means trying to stand in the shoes of my historical characters, and thinking about the truth of their often complex lives. I also have a responsibility to my readers – many of whom tell me they’ve used my books to learn about the Tudors,
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I often spend a year tracking down primary sources and visiting actual locations. For my new book, I was lucky to have access to Robert Devereux’s personal letters, which offer a real insight into his character and state of mind throughout his life.
What’s the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I have two children and was present at their births, but admit I rely on my wife to check through any childbirth scenes which inevitably have to be covered. I also value her thoughts when my main character is a woman (so far, I’ve written books about Eleanor Cobham, Mary Tudor and Katherine Willoughby).
What about your latest book and the work you put into it:
What was your work schedule like when writing this book?
I usually research through the summer months, write through the autumn and winter, then edit in the spring. The pandemic meant we were ‘locked down’ in Wales from March 2020, so I had plenty of time to start writing early, without any distractions. This did make site visits impossible, but the internet meant I could access my primary sources.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I once had a one-star review because the reader said they couldn’t work out how to get my book onto their e-reader! I tried to persuade Amazon to remove it but they have a strict policy of non-interference, however unfairly the author feels they’ve been treated. Luckily that was a rare exception, and I’d like to thank the many people who have kindly taken the time to write reviews of my books. It means a lot to me.
Are any of your characters in this book based on real people you know?
Yes – it’s almost impossible not to use details from people I know well to bring historical characters to life. Robert Devereux had a deeply flawed character, and I was able to reflect on my own past to ‘feel’ the emotions I was trying to describe.
Were there days you had to “kick-start” yourself to write? How did you overcome the dreaded “blank screen?”
Yes, particularly during the more worrying times of the pandemic, when Wales suddenly became a hot-spot with many people dying and so much uncertainty. My way of ‘kick-starting myself into the right mindset was to switch to my Stories of the Tudors podcasts, (which I’m pleased to say have had nearly 100,000 downloads) see
Give a shout out to a writing buddy or fellow author; how did they help you with this book?
I’d like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank my editor, Nikki Brice, who somehow coped with editing ESSEX – Tudor Rebel while home-schooling her children during the pandemic. Her attention to detail is amazing, and her comments were invaluable.
Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling Tudor historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the history of the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors. Tony’s other published historical fiction novels include: Owen – Book One Of The Tudor Trilogy, Jasper – Book Two Of The Tudor Trilogy, Henry – Book Three Of The Tudor Trilogy, Mary – Tudor Princess, Brandon – Tudor Knight and The Secret Diary Of Eleanor Cobham.
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