The wonderful Tony Riches has just released the second book in his Elizabethan series, and it looks to be a good one. Here’s the description:
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 naivete amuses the ageing Queen Elizabeth, like the son she never had, and his vitality makes her feel young…
Anyway. Since I too am deeply into the Elizabethan era right now as I work on my own Elizabeth series, I had a bunch of questions for Tony about the book and his process and he was gracious enough to answer them! So without further ado, here we go!
Janet Wertman: First, congratulations. This is your – thirteenth is it? – novel, most of which have dealt with the Tudor court. You’ve made quite a name for yourself with the early Tudors – what inspired you to venture so deeply into the Elizabethan territory?
Tony Riches: Thank you, Janet – ESSEX – Tudor Rebel is my twelfth novel, but there are several non-fiction books and all the translated editions, so it feels like much more. I’ve been telling the stories of the Tudors from the first meeting of Owen Tudor and Queen Catherine of Valois in OWEN – Book One of the Tudor Trilogy. I wrote Mary – Tudor Princess as a ‘sequel’ to the Tudor trilogy, which developed into the Brandon trilogy when I began researching Charles Brandon and his marriage to Katherine Willoughby.
Having spent more than six years following the continuous ‘thread’ of the Tudor dynasty, I’ve been looking forward to working on the final part of the story, an Elizabethan series, which explores the fascinating world of Queen Elizabeth I through the eyes of her favourites.
JW: What was the hardest part of writing this book?
TR: My main character, Robert Devereux, is a deeply flawed man, who forgets his promises, cheats on his wife, and runs up impossible debts. I had to understand his state of mind, explain why he behaved as he did, and try to show some of his redeeming qualities.
JW: How do you research your subjects? Do you try to get it all done before you start writing, or do you prefer to research as you go?
TR: I always begin with primary sources, such as surviving letters and contemporary accounts – and I had the detailed records of the Elizabethan Court, as well as the two-volume Lives and Letters of the Devereux, Earls of Essex, by Walter Bourchier Devereux. I’ve immersed myself in every detail of the court of Queen Elizabeth I, and Elizabethan life in London, for the past two years. I also visited the Devereux Tower at the Tower of London, and the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula to pay my respects to Robert Devereux, as well as visiting several other locations in the book, (including his home at Lamphey Palace, which happens to be twenty minutes from my home in Pembrokeshire!) to have a sense of place.
JW: What was your hardest scene to write?
TR: Spoiler alert – the ESSEX ‘rebellion’ doesn’t end well, and I spent more time on the final scenes than any other chapter. I like background music as I write, and the ‘breakthrough’ came as I listed to Finally Going Home by Katie Petersen (and she kindly agreed for me to use her lyrics as an epilogue.)
JW: That was lovely! What is next?! Are you ready to share?
TR: The third book in my Elizabethan series is about Walter Raleigh, another of Queen Elizabeth’s favourites. I’m still at the research stage, but even though people might think they know his story, like the lives of Francis Drake and Robert Devereux, much of it has become distorted by myths and legend – and the true account of his life is fascinating enough, without the need for embellishment.
I’ve also found how Queen Elizabeth’s ladies in waiting influenced her thinking and actions – and the lives of her favourites, so I’m planning to make this an Elizabethan series, rather than stop at a trilogy, and write about three Elizabethan women. Can you guess who they might be?
JW: I have some guesses! But I will keep them to myself and be pleasantly surprised…
Intrigued? ESSEX – Tudor Rebel (book two of his Elizabethan Series) is available through Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon CA, and Amazon AU. And you can get more of Tony through his website (https://tonyriches.com), his The Writing Desk blog, or of course on Facebook!
If you like my posts, you’ll love my books! Jane the Quene and The Path to Somerset have finally been joined by The Boy King – now available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Apple, or even your local independent bookstore.!
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