Name Noelle Riches
Where are you from:
Guelph, Ontario, Canada
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I went to university to study English Literature (though I preferred sneaking in juicier reads when I had the time), and taught English in Japan and Vancouver afterward, dabbling in chocolate making on the west coast which has now developed into a full blown yearly obsession every winter. I live in Guelph with my husband, 3 year old son and kitty, and write whenever I can (usually at 5am before the little guy pops his eyes open).
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I recently celebrated the launch of my 1st book, The Queen’s Training, a party which I won’t soon forget, and am getting ready for the release of the next two in the trilogy- The Queen’s Lover (due out in May) and The Queen’s Army (due out in July).
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I remember writing short stories on our long family road trips (I tried reading but with the goal of keeping my lunch moving the right way through my digestive tract, I sadly never lasted long reading in the car), which graduated to 60 page handwritten ‘novels’ while in grade school until my parents got me the oldest computer alive on which to compose my stories and then save them to floppy disk (yes, I’m that old). I took a break from writing somewhere between late elementary school and my mid twenties, but since taking it up again, I haven’t looked back.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I first considered myself a writer about two weeks ago with the release of my first published book, so I’m still getting used to it. In some ways I’ve always felt like a writer, but the struggle to believe other people considered me a writer is pretty much ongoing. Now that I have something tangible I’ve tossed out in the world, it’s a lot easier to do, but it’s something I still have to remind myself that I am, and not just something I want to be.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Because I write romance novels in different sub genres, ideas often start as different things- the first sentence to a novel that seems to have a life of its own, or a scenario for a relationship that seems interesting and unique in its way, or an idea for a main character, as was the case for The Queen’s Training. Soriana popped into my mind pretty randomly, and the more I thought about her, the more I enjoyed learning about and developing her story.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
For The Queen of Oran series, yes. It’s all from Soriana’s point of view, and she seemed to have her own voice. Which is funny, because though The Queen’s Training is my first book to be published, I’ve written a few others I’m currently working on and none of them have the same tone. I’d say I do have a writing style, but it changes depending on the book I’m writing- what sub genre of romance, time period, point of view, mood—everything plays in to adjust the style.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I’ve never been great with the naming of things- novels, characters, pets, my son….The Queen’s Training seemed pretty straightforward to me, though. The training of Soriana to become the next queen, and all that entails, was the premise for the entire book, so that coupled with the fact that it sounded like something I’d pick up if I was browsing the bookshelves made it easier than normal to lock down.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
If there’s an underlying theme, it’s strength. Throughout the book, and the trilogy, Soriana wrestles with her self–worth and her belief that she’s strong enough to do the things she needs to do to help herself and her people. It’s something I’ve always struggled with, so it was a good reminder to myself to trust in my own abilities and know that what I can handle and what I can achieve is constantly adjusting and updating as long as I keep challenging myself.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Because it’s a fantasy sub genre of romance, very little of the book is taken from real life, but that being said, little pieces of each character are pulled from people I know to create this kind of mash up of qualities I’ve given to each character. Similarly, the landscape and geography of Oran and its surrounding countries are pulled from places I’ve visited, or places I’d like to see.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
The most influential books to me have been ones I read as a kid or young adult and will probably re–read forever. Winter of Fire, by Sheryll Jordan is one of my favourite YA novels, and I’ve re–read the Clan of The Cave Bear series about 17,000 times. Another book that introduced me to a kind of romantic fantasy was Maia, by Richard Adams. And then of course all the romance novels I read on the regular teach me what I’m doing and what I’d like to do.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I had the privilege of having Gina Wynn as my first editor on The Queen’s Training and I fell pretty hard in love with her book What You Wish For. It’s not typically my style, but I wanted to check her out if she was bleeding red on my pages, and I’ve since read it at least three times. Such great character development and I love the way the story progresses, with tones of The Time Traveler’s Wife, which I also loved. I’m also pretty obsessed with Christina Lauren. Pretty hot reads and such a fun voice.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My husband has definitely been a big supporter. I was signed to two previous publishers who sadly closed up shop before The Queen’s Training was released with them, but he kept encouraging me to start submitting again, to not give up. That was pretty huge.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I’d obviously love for that to be the end game in all of this. Definitely the dream. Though even if it’s something that has to stay on the side for whatever reason, I doubt I’ll ever stop. It’s just too much fun to create my own worlds and see what happens in them.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
That’s a good question. I’ve edited The Queen’s Training about three million times, and could probably continue to edit it forever. I don’t think I’d change anything major in it at this point, but I’m constantly looking to tweak sentences, change the meaning here or there. That seems to be the point when I need to let it go, or else be doomed to work on it until I die.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
The first time I remember wanting to write, my parents had taken me to an old family friend of my grandma’s. It was this amazing house in rural Ontario and had been designed and built by the husband for his wife. I thought that was the most romantic thing I’d ever heard. The first time I could get my hands on pen and paper, I wrote some made up version of their love story, which ended up being the beginning of a lifelong love for love and writing.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
The next two books in the Queen of Oran trilogy are due out, so aside from reviewing the last bit of copy editing, my job is basically done with them. I have an idea knocking around for a spin–off with the Gwinolha character, but I’m currently editing a romantic suspense I started last year and just finished up an outline for a quirky chick lit (with some romance. Obvi.) and am chomping at the bit to lay words down on that one.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The beginning. Always the beginning! I rewrite the beginning of any novel about three times more than any other part of the book. Obviously, I want the entirety of anything I write to be fantastic, but I’m hyper aware that the first page, the first chapter, is key to locking in readers who have busy lives and justifiably zero patience for something that isn’t quite good enough for them.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I wish! Pulling details from my travel has helped me in world building with fantasy, and visiting the small town in which my romantic suspense was based on was key, but I think the next book should be set in some gorgeous tropical location. I wouldn’t complain about a nice vacation I could write off come tax season.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Cherith Vaughan, who works with Red Empress Publishers designed the covers, and she was pretty much a dream to work with. Very excited to see what she has in store for the next two!
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I find it hard to see the forest for the trees when I edit. The editing process is possibly my favorite part, but I get caught up in nit picky details and find it difficult to take a bird’s eye view of the story to see which elements works and which ones need tweaking.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned how to write. Which is a pretty big deal, though I attribute most of that learning to my first editor Gina Wynn who had me cracking up with her comments while simultaneously wincing at how…let’s say ‘fresh’ I was to the writing world. I also learned that a solid outline helps me actually finish books. Also a big deal.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
Ooh, this is a fun question. I see Ranneth, the love interest, played by a Jason Momoa type, and Soriana, the main character, played by Tina Desai or Mila Kunis
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Soak in as much life as possible, and experience as much variety in life as possible. Pay attention, observe, and LIVE. And then hole yourself up to write. But also keep breaking for life.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for picking up the book, thank you for reading past the first page, thank you for letting me transport you in your busy life.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Right now I’m reading Last Chance Llama Ranch, by Hilary Fields for a fun read and because I’ve always had this secret dream to run an alpaca farm. It’s still on the bucket list.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I know I read books before this one, but the first one that stands out is Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne while on a family road trip in grade four I think. Finished it in two days, loved every word, had a terrible headache from reading too much. No regrets!
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Now that I’m a mom, anything to do with kids makes me cry, good or bad. Such a sap now. But mostly all the people I love in my life make me laugh, and I’m really grateful for that. Also inappropriate jokes.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I would love to meet my grandparents when they were young. I feel like they have juicy stories they’re not telling me…
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
‘She loved.’ Because I did, and I do, and that’s important to me.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I’m also a chocolatier. I worked a bit for a small boutique shop in Vancouver before realizing it should remain a hobby, but every autumn I order 40lbs of Lindt chocolate and go to town making a variety of confections- caramels, toffees, truffles, designer chocolate houses and bowls….it’s my bliss and I love giving them away. And eating the rest.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love a good romcom to lighten the mood, or a fun action flick if I’m feeling a bit more rambunctious. I love a well done documentary, especially about food (Jiro Dreams of Sushi, or the Abstract series on Netflix is great), and anything kind of funny/quirky, like The Lobster, In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths, with some great satire is always welcome.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Foods- I have deep love of butter and a satisfyingly unhealthy relationship with croissants if they’re the real kind. Butter. In all it’s beautiful forms.
Music- Currently obsessing over Allen Stone, or anything with some old school Motown, gritty, bluesy feel. Paolo Nutini is a staple.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Massage therapy. It’s something that feeds me. I love giving treatments and helping people relax as they come back into their bodies, accepting whatever change may happen or accepting themselves if there’s no change at all. There’s something kind of beautiful about that.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Yes! My webdesigner is working hard to lock it all in and make it wonderful, so right now I have a placeholder website, which will become a true website in a week or so. I don’t technically have a blog, but on the website there will be a Read With Me page so I can post what I’m reading, my thoughts, and see if anyone wants to book club- it with me. Check me out at www.noelleriches.com
Here’s my Amazon page: USA https://www.amazon.com/Noelle-Riches/e/B06XKWXFP7
And here’s a link to my publishers who also have all the buy links to the book: http://redempresspublishing.com/en/