04 January 2015

Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Tony Riches on THE SECRET DIARY OF ELEANOR COBHAM

This week, we're pleased to again welcome author TONY RICHES with his latest release, THE SECRET DIARY OF ELEANOR COBHAM. Join us again on Sunday for an author interview, with more details about the story behind the story. One lucky visitor will get a free Kindle copy of The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham. Be sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb.

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.

**Q&A with Tony Riches**

Where are you from?

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

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.)

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!)  

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.  

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.