Welcome to my new blog series where I take a journey, as a novice and extremely inexperienced writer, to find out how far more established authors got to where they are today. Hopefully, so I can learn a lot from them but also to share their stories and ask some of the questions that others might not…
Part 1 – Mags To Riches
First off, to Pembrokeshire and the multi-talented Tony Riches. Tony has moved impressively from magazine articles to The Tudor Trilogy in a few short years, via three other novels, two non-fiction books and two business books.
We’ll start there and Tony’s inspiration for writing in the first place. He was reviewing books for Computer Weekly after, like many writers, before that had started out by writing professional and business articles for magazines until he became a reviewer.
But he knew this wasn’t enough to ‘give up his day job’ but he had become very experienced and highly qualified in Agile Project Management and was confident that an eBook on the subject – something that most managers and decision makers in businesses struggled with – would do well and he wrote it, assuming that the reader would have no specific knowledge.
His hunch proved correct, with the self-published Agile Project Management for Busy Managers coming out in January 2012. But he was still amazed to see it reach the top ten in the Amazon US Project Management category.
It was here that Tony was able to use his business skills to his advantage as he had been using HTML and developing websites for years (I told you he was multi-talented) and used this knowledge on the coding side of the eBook and used French software (mobipocket) to generate a Kindle edition.
But the business book wasn’t the only book Tony published in 2012. As a reader of ‘a lot’ of historical fiction he decided to build on his success with Queen Sacrifice. This concept fascinated me because the story is told using every move in a famous game of chess (Tony enjoyed playing the game prior to writing) and he’d been intrigued by chess pieces coming to life since reading Alice in Wonderland as a child. Tony’s book was set in 10th century Wales and the drama involved kings, queens, bishops, knights and castles plus sixteen ‘pawns’ each with a backstory of their own.
As a first novel, it certainly takes some beating in the ‘high concept’ stakes but Tony found a website that helped him to literally ‘step through’ every move in the game and he used this to drive the narrative of the tale. His main challenge was to add a few more female characters as the game has only two queens, and then as Tony puts it ‘all I had to do was create a situation and motive where a pawn might kill a knight – or a queen might sacrifice herself!’
He makes it sound so easy. I’m sure it wasn’t and it’s one of those concepts that you secretly wish you’d thought of yourself but Tony did learn one painful lesson – one I think all writers have either done or at least come very close to doing – when he lost several chapters after forgetting to back up his work. It made him feel like giving up but instead he made sure that all future work was backed up on the cloud and a solid state USB so he wouldn’t make that mistake again, and thankfully went back and rewrote the words he had lost.
Queen Sacrifice sold well for a first novel but Tony had a thirst for learning more and he took part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where participants hope to write 50,000 words in thirty days.
I asked what the experience taught him and apart from that it was possible to write a rather precise 1,667 words per day, even with a full time job ‘if you are disciplined enough’, he also found that revising and redrafting his work was better left until he had the words written down. He also found a supportive writing community in NaNoWriMo that have provided some useful guidance and tips over the years.
Three further novels followed. The Shell, about a kidnapping on a Mombasa beach, came out in 2014, as did two other historical fiction novels, Warwick: The Man Behind The War Of The Roses and The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham – set in 1441 England.
But Tony was about to set his sights on an even bigger challenge for his next book.
Next Time: Part 2 – Tackling A Trilogy
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 sailing and river kayaking in his spare time.
For more information about Tony’s books please visit his popular blog, The Writing Desk and website www.tonyriches.com and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches. The Tudor Trilogy is available on Amazon UK Amazon US and Amazon AU