If you’re thinking of writing a trilogy (or for that matter a book with a sequel), Tony Riches has some excellent advice for you. Tony is the author of four novels and has recently released Jasper, book two of his Tudor Trilogy. Over to you, Tony.
What I’ve Learnt From Writing the Tudor Trilogy
Although I was born within sight of Pembroke Castle, I only began to study its history when I returned to the area five years ago. I was amazed to find there were no books about Owen Tudor, the father of Sir Jasper Tudor, the Earl of Pembroke, who once owned and lived in the Castle. I found several accounts of the life of Henry Tudor, Jasper’s nephew, (who later became King Henry VII and began the Tudor Dynasty) but there were no novels that brought his story to life.
I’d just reviewed Pat Barker’s Life Class Trilogy for my blog and was reading Conn Iggulden’s impressive Wars of the Roses trilogy, when the idea for the Tudor Trilogy (unsurprisingly) occurred to me. 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 do my best to ensure my novels are historically correct, and 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 am always disappointed when authors distort or manipulate the known history, and firmly believe history has more amazing stories than anything I would ever dream up.
The first book of the 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, JASPER, (published 25th March), Jasper and young Henry flee to exile in Brittany and plan to one day 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?
I am currently researching the final book of the trilogy, HENRY, and plan to explore how he brought peace to England by marrying the beautiful daughter of his enemy, King Edward IV. I also want to understand how their son, who became King Henry VIII, became such a tyrant and transformed the history of England forever.
Now I have some experience of writing a trilogy, I’m convinced it is something any historical fiction novelist should consider, for the following reasons:
- If you write a book like CJ Sansom’s 640 page Lamentation (which I’ve been reading since Christmas) you may be able to sell it for double, but I was able to promote book one while writing book two (and it became a best-seller in the UK, US and Australia.)
- Readers actually contact me to ask when the next book in the trilogy is going to be available, which is encouraging, as I’ve already managed to build an international reader base of Tudor fans.
- Although I’ve tried to make sure each book works as a ‘stand-alone’ I expect people reading them in the wrong order will be at least tempted to buy the others. As a reader I know I always do.)
- As a writer, there is a liberating sense of space and freedom, as ideas previously hinted at can be developed and explored over the three books. The complex relationship between the Tudors and the Woodvilles is a good example!
- Amazon (and other retailers) are happy to promote and market a trilogy (or any series) as a discounted single purchase, which is good value for readers and means your books are more likely to be ‘discovered’.
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.
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M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.