Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Welcome to Historical Author - Trisha Hughes

I'm delighted to welcome Trisha Hughes to the blog.

Hello Trisha - I'm so pleased you were keen to appear on the blog. And it's always a pleasure to make contact with a fellow author when it comes to sharing news about books. But before we discover more about your latest release, Victoria to Vikings – The Circle of Blood, here are some questions which will hopefully give your readers an insight into some of the things that matter to you. 

Arabella: Authors can release books, making them available to readers in various ways…via an agent, or working directly with a traditional publisher, or they can even go the self-publishing route. Which method of publishing do you prefer, and why?
Trisha: In the past, I’ve gone down the traditional publishing road, without an agent. My first book, my best-selling memoir ‘Daughters of Nazareth’ was published traditionally by Pan MacMillan Australia and reached the number one spot in Australia, surpassing the current Stephen King book that was on the shelves at the time. That’s because traditional publishers have vast resources for marketing. My next three books, my Historical fictions based on British Monarchy throughout the ages that I call my V2V trilogy, were also published by a UK publisher and have had a great deal of success. Although it feels rewarding to have a publisher, because let’s face it, it feels like a pat on the back, control of your book and the marketing of it is out of your hands. It also takes up to nine months from signing the contract to release date and being the impatient sort, the time drags for me. Not just that, but the royalties are quite low. This time, with the help and insight of some wonderful friends who are self-published authors, I plan on self-publishing my next book, the first in a mystery / crime series based in Australia I call ‘Dragonfly’. It’s been edited and the cover is on the way. I’m feeling quite excited about this new adventure.

Arabella: A slice of Chocolate Cake, a piece of Fruit, or Burger and Fries?
Trisha: I’m a foodaholic. There is nothing quite like a burger and fries with a pint on the side. And show me a person who doesn’t like chocolate cake and I’ll show you a lunatic. So for me, I can squeeze in all three in one day. Does that make me an overachiever?

Arabella: Who or what inspired you to write your latest release, Victoria to Vikings – The Circle of Blood?
Trisha: It all started quite innocently five years ago. I was sitting in a car on the way to the beach with my 13-year-old grandson trying to find a way to grab his attention away from his Facebook page. Like any grandmother, I asked him about school. What did he like best? What subjects did he take? And I perked up when he said one of his subjects was history. I’ve always liked history and I was happy to have something to chat to him about. I asked him, ‘So you know all about Henry VIII then?’ Because basically, doesn’t everyone? His blank look stunned me because well, this is Henry VIII we’re talking about. So for the next half an hour I told him the story of a charismatic eighteen year old who eventually turned into an obese tyrant. I told the story to him in a way that would engage his interest and he laughed at all the right places and was shocked at all the right places. It started me thinking. Why don’t we know more about our history? History not only provides us with a glimpse of how things used to be, but its lessons can teach us things that are important for life today. History can be the richest of stories, the saddest of stories and the most shocking of stories. That was the day I decided to write a book on past kings. Two years of research later, I knew I had too much information for just one book.

Okay...I know it sounds academic but it's actually not.  Sure, it's based on facts but it's told as a rambling narrative and is written in a way that's easy to read. Rudyard Kipling once said, ‘If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.’  And that's what I've tried to do. I turned my books into a trilogy of stories about the kings of England. The first book is called ‘Vikings to Virgin – The hazards of being King’. The next is ‘Virgin to Victoria – The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen’ and the latest release just a few months ago is ‘Victoria to Vikings – The Circle of Blood’.

Arabella:  If the person of your dreams, (husband/wife/partner/or superstar), were to take you out for the night, where would they take you and what would you do?
Trisha:  I currently live in Hong Kong with my husband so if I had a ‘dream date’ with him, he’d have to take me to Paris.  My heritage on my father’s side is French and I feel a tug every time I see a picture of the Eiffel Towel. I’ve been to Paris a couple of times and it never loses it’s magic for me. I love the cobble stone streets, the history, the museums, the quirkiness and the old-worldliness. Did I say I love the magic?

Arabella: Currently, what is your most favourite T.V. programme, and why?
Trisha:  Juggling everything doesn’t leave a lot of time for watching television but when I do, I love watching shows like Vikings, Game of Thrones, Outlander and Kingdom. And now I’ve discovered crime. And I love it all. My husband observes me closely when I watch ‘How to get away with Murder’ and call it research.

Arabella: When writing a book or chapter, which do you concentrate on first: plot, character, or setting?
Trisha: Although I like to think I’m an organised person, I’m a messy writer. I jump around all over the place. I always believe ‘Write what you know about’ so with my trilogy, I researched until my brain was almost mush. With my new upcoming mystery novel, I had my home town in mind as the setting. I knew the area and I knew the climate, so the ‘filler’ part came easily.  I also thought I had a terrific beginning and an ending that no one would guess. What I didn’t have was the middle part and a character. But that was the fun part. My main character became a sort of Harry Callahan with a sense of humour. The rest just fell into place.

Arabella: How do you research your novels and characters?
Trisha: That was easy for me with my historical V2V series. The characters were already there in history books and online. The first books I read were a series written by Sir Winston Churchill called ‘History of the English Speaking People.’ It was tough reading with quite a lot of uninteresting political information that I didn’t want in my books. But it gave me a basis of where to start. I soon realised that what I needed to do was give these kings and queens a personality. That was the hard part. Because all the characters were unique in their own way, I had to have them express themselves in different ways. I had to combine the vast number of physical signals with the individuality of each character and I had to do it without propping myself up with dialogue. The only way I saw to do that was with emotion.

Although the books are factual, adding emotion is why the books are in the ‘historical fiction’ category. I had to delve deep to find out what each character was like and describe what I thought would be their emotional response. And that’s where the serious research came in. These characters didn’t live in bubbles. They interacted with the world around them. All I had to do was create a valid emotional response for each individual while keeping the historical setting in order. To do that, I visited all the historical castles that I could. I soaked up the atmosphere and I found that each site had endless sources of information. I thoroughly enjoyed the research.

Arabella: What advice would you give to someone who is starting out on their writing journey?
Trisha: My best advice is to never give up. Wisdom comes to us in the unlikeliest of sources, and a lot of times it comes through failure. When you hit rock bottom, remember this…while you’re struggling, rock bottom can be a great foundation on which to grow and build. A person who picks themselves off the floor and keeps going is the person who will continue to grow and improve.

In my youth, I was always told to blend. But over the past few years, I’ve ignored those words. I’ve refused to listen to them. I tell myself every day to shoot for the stars. That good enough is NOT good enough. What you do is stand tall and you keep on standing. No matter what, you never give up. Anything is possible.

Arabella: Thank you for sharing some of your writing secrets with us, Trisha. It was an eye-opener to see how much time was needed to research the history behind your books. And I totally agree, there is a certain "magic" to Paris that is almost has to be captured at the moment and felt with the heart.
Memories... 💖💖💖
All the best for your latest release, Victoria to Vikings – The Circle of Blood
Arabella Sheen

About Trisha Hughes:

Trisha is an Australian author currently living in Hong Kong.  She has lived in many countries all over the world and loves to travel. She divides her time between writing books, writing articles for a local magazine and mentoring children in creative writing. For the past three years, she has been one of three judges in the Hong Kong Young Writer’s Competition, helping to encourage children’s imagination. Although previously a historical fiction author, she is now embarking on a new adventure in mystery and crime series based in her home country of Australia.

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BOOK BLURB  - Victoria to Vikings
To the victor goes the spoils and nowhere is this truer than in the history of the British monarchy. There are kings who ruled for just a few months and there are some who ruled for over fifty years. There are some who should never have ruled at all. They include the vain, the greedy and the downright corrupt. There were adulterers, swindlers and cowards and their stories span over 1500 years full of lust, betrayal and heroism. Yet this group also share one thing in common. In their own lifetimes, they were the most powerful individuals in the land and they weren’t shy about letting their subjects know.

Virgin to Victoria is a powerful story travelling through time, beginning with Henry VIII’s daughter, Elizabeth I, as she stepped up to the throne as Britain’s new queen. Her sister Mary had ruled before her but that queen was dead and Britain’s future lay in the hands of this bright-eyed intelligent woman who promised a magnificent future for everyone. It continues through the unsettling times of the Stuarts and moves from Oliver Cromwell through to the ferocious Hanovers and finally ends with Queen Victoria ready to accept her sceptre at the age of eighteen after the death of all her childless uncles. This book is written as a story and brings these monarchs alive to show them as flesh and blood characters who actually lived and died, not just vague names in history books.

Trisha Hughes is a best-selling Australian author who now lives in Hong Kong. Trisha attends workshops for children’s creative writing groups and is a mentor of a yearly young writers competition. Her first book was published 18 years ago, a best-selling autobiography called Daughters of Nazareth. Trisha has recently published the first book in this historical trilogy, Victoria to Vikings.

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