Although I was born within sight of Pembroke Castle, I only began to study its history when I returned to the area as a full-time author. I found several accounts of the life of Henry Tudor, (who later became King Henry VII and began the Tudor Dynasty) but there were no novels that brought the truth of his to life.
The idea for the Tudor Trilogy occurred to me when I realised Henry Tudor could be born in book one, ‘come of age’ in book two, and rule England in book three, so there would be plenty of scope to explore his life and times.
I started with a year of research, as I like my novels to be as historically accurate as possible. There are many ways to approach historical fiction, including imaginative ‘alternative histories’, but I feel the role of the historical fiction novelist is to fill in the gaps with a plausible narrative – and explore how people might have reacted to often quite dramatic events. (I’ve also found actual history has more amazing stories than anything I could dream up.)
The first book of the Tudor trilogy was my fourth novel, so I had a good idea about the structure, and it had a ‘natural’ and dramatic end point (not wishing to give anything away for non-Tudor aficionados). In book one, OWEN, a Welsh servant of Queen Catherine of Valois, the lonely widow of King Henry V, falls in love with her and they marry in secret. Their eldest son Edmund Tudor marries the heiress Lady Margaret Beaufort, and fathers a child with her to secure her inheritance. Unfortunately, Lady Margaret is barely thirteen years old and the birth of her son, Henry, nearly kills her. When her husband dies mysteriously without even seeing his son, his younger brother Jasper Tudor swears to protect them.
This all takes place during the Wars of the Roses and in book two of the trilogy, JASPER, Owen’s son Jasper Tudor and young Henry flee to exile in Brittany and plan to return and make Henry King of England. In the meantime, King Richard III has taken the throne and has a powerful army of thousands – while Jasper and Henry have nothing. Even the clothes they wear are paid for by the Duke of Brittany. So how can they possibly invade England and defeat King Richard at the Battle of Bosworth?
In the final book of the trilogy, HENRY, I explore how Henry Tudor brought peace to England by marrying the beautiful daughter of his enemy, King Edward IV. I also wanted to help readers understand how their son, who became King Henry VIII, became such a tyrant and transformed the history of England forever.
Towards the end of final book of the trilogy I began researching the lives of Henry Tudor’s daughters, Mary and Margaret, and became fascinated by Mary Tudor’s story. I realised how she’s often confused with Queen Mary Tudor, and that there was a ‘sequel’ to be written which continued the story of Mary’s time as Queen of France and marriage to Charles Brandon. This was published as MARY- Tudor Princess, and followed with the same story from Brandon’s point of view.
Find more about the series here.
My newest Tudor novel, which will be out before Christmas, concludes what has now become a series of six books with the story of Brandon’s last wife, Lady Katherine Willoughby, which will be published as KATHERINE – Tudor Duchess. Katherine was fascinating to research as she knew each of King Henry VIII’s six wives, as well as his children Mary, Elizabeth and Edward. Best of all, KATHERINE takes me to the start of the reign of the last Tudor, Queen Elizabeth I – and the start of my new Elizabethan series.
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, UK, with his wife and enjoys sailing and kayaking in his spare time. For more information about Tony’s books, podcasts and audiobooks please visit his website www.tonyriches.com and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches.