Tony Riches 2014


Tony Riches

Where are you from

Pembrokeshire in Wales, UK

A little about yourself  

I am a full time writer living by the sea with my wife in one of the most unspoilt areas of the UK. In my spare time I enjoy sea kayaking and sailing on the river Cleddau.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

I am now researching a new Tudor Trilogy, the first book of which follows the adventures of my fellow Welshman, Owen Tudor.   It amazes me that there are no books about his life, as although he was only a servant, he married the Queen of England and founded the Tudor dynasty.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I have written for magazines and journals for many years, although it was only three years ago that I wrote my first book – about project management.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think it was when my non-fiction book became a best-seller on Amazon US, although it was only when I published my second novel that I started thinking of myself as an author.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first novel?

My first novel, Queen Sacrifice, was inspired by 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. (I actually had to invent a few wives and female relatives, as there are of course only two female roles on a chess board.)

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

Most of my fiction books are written in the third person from the viewpoint of the main character. The exception is my latest novel, The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham, which is first person, as it is the imagined diary of the Duchess of Gloucester, who was imprisoned for life for witchcraft and treason (and is one of my wife’s ancestors!)

Fiona: Is there a message in your new novel that you want readers to grasp?

In The Secret Diary I was interested in exploring the idea of redemption. Eleanor had plenty of time to think about what she had done – and to try to understand and forgive those who persecuted and betrayed her.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?

This is the first book ever to be written about the life of Eleanor Cobham, so I felt a great responsibility to make sure it was as factually correct as possible. My wife and I visited Beaumaris Castle and stood in the chapel where she would have prayed over five hundred years ago. I also went to a lot of trouble to understand what life was like in fifteenth century England and Wales, including what they ate and what it would have been like to be imprisoned in castles.

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?

Stephen King’s book On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft  has been a good influence and rewards re-reading, even for experienced writers.

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

I am currently reading Wonderbook – The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff Vandermeer. It is packed with fascinating ideas and inspiring quotes from a wide range of authors, so definitely one I’ll be recommending. I am also reading Debra Bayani’s book  Jasper Tudor ~ Godfather of the Tudor Dynasty as part of my research and will be reviewing it on ,y writing blog shortly.

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Calvin Hedley, who has been kind enough to read and comment on my last two novels. Although he is completely blind, Calvin has also successfully written his first novel, Turning Point.

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

A recent reviewer commented that she would not normally have read about the Battle of Agincourt, which I included in The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham because Eleanor’s husband was badly wounded there. I could easily cut that passage but left it in because it was an experience which affected his outlook for the rest of his life—and also Eleanor’s life.

Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I am still learning how to best represent the inevitable love scenes in my novels. There is a fine line between leaving just enough to the reader’s imagination—and making it too explicit.

Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

One of my favourite authors is Anne O’Brien. I really admire the way she makes me think harder about our history and evokes a real sense of time and place. It was Anne who sparked my interest in the fifteenth century, so I always look out for her new books.

Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

Travelling to research my books is probably the best part of the process for me. I am currently planning a visit to Windsor Castle, to see how much of it is as it was in Owen Tudor’s day.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

I always design my own covers and the choices I make often influence how the book develops. It’s not easy, however, so if anyone is thinking of doing it I recommend close study of Joel Friedlander’s Book Cover Design Awards.

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?

The best advice is to just sit down and write, without worrying about how good it is, as you can always revise and edit it later, as long as you have something to work with. Remember that just one page a day is a book a year, so you can’t complain that you don’t have time to write a book.

Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?

I’ve always been interested in painting – and recently enjoyed the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year competition, so if I could I would have liked to be a painter. 

Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?

My blog is called The Writing Desk and I am always happy to support other authors with guest posts and new book launches. I also have a WordPress site with details of each of my books.


Beautiful woman in medieval dress on the armchair

The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham, by Tony Riches

The year is 1441. Lady Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester, wife of Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, one of the richest men in the country and next in line to the throne, hopes to one day become Queen of England. Then her interest in astrology and the dark arts, combined with her husband’s ambition, leads their enemies to accuse her of a plot against the king.

The beautiful Duchess Eleanor is found guilty of sorcery and witchcraft. Rather than have her executed, King Henry VI orders Eleanor to be imprisoned for life. For ten years, she lives as the king’s prisoner in the finest palaces in the country, such as Leeds Castle in Kent, to some of the worst conditions, in Peel Castle on the windswept Isle of Man.

Finally she is taken to the Welsh fortress of Beaumaris Castle on the Island of Anglesey. More than a century after her death, carpenters restoring one of the towers of Beaumaris Castle discover a sealed box hidden under the wooden boards. Thinking they have found treasure, they break the ancient box open, disappointed to find it only contains a book, with hand-sewn pages of yellowed parchment.

Written in a code no one could understand, the mysterious book changed hands many times for more than five centuries, between antiquarian book collectors, until it came to me. After years of frustrating failure to break the code, I discover it is based on a long forgotten medieval dialect and am at last able to decipher the secret diary of Eleanor Cobham.


Henry VI. Part 2, Act 2, Scene 3:

King Henry:

Stand forth dame Eleanor Cobham, Glouster’s wife.

In sight of God and us, your guilt is great:

Receive the sentence of the law, for sins

Such as by God’s book are adjudged to death.

You, madam, for you are more nobly born,

Despoiled of your honour in your life,

Shall, after three days’ open penance done,

Live in your country here, in banishment.



The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham is available now in paperback and eBook on Amazon UK and Amazon US and in all popular formats on Smashwords

A short book trailer for The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham is available on YouTube





About the Author

Tony Riches is a full time author of best-selling fiction and non-fiction books. He lives by the sea in Pembrokeshire, West Wales with his wife and enjoys sea and river kayaking in his spare time. For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his popular blog, The Writing Desk and his WordPress website and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches.



Table of links:

Item Hyperlink
Eleanor on Amazon UK
Eleanor on Amazon US
Eleanor on Smashwords
Book Trailer on YouTube


The Writing Desk


Eleanor on

Tony on Twitter


Tony on



Tony on Google+


Amazon Author