The Broken Prince (The Lavender Company Book 1) (Author Interview)

Can you share your inspiration for the character of Tristan and his journey from a broken heir to a potential ruler?

For a while, I've been intrigued by the idea of a prince being forced to flee his falling kingdom. There were a few ways I could have achieved this, but in the end, I went with family drama. The problem is, there are a lot of stories out there where an angry relative steals the throne, going right back to the ancient myths and legends. So, what I wanted to do with Tristan was build a character who frankly deserved to have his throne stolen, and then see if he could piece himself back together. After all, who doesn't love a good redemption arc?

How did you go about creating the world for The Broken Prince, and what research did you conduct to depict a magicless world inspired by Medieval Earth?

I certainly had to dig through a lot of history books, but it was fun! I studied history at university, so it was great to play with my historical knowledge in a more relaxed format. Most of the factions and kingdoms of Eldra are heavily based on real, historical peoples. The entire world is really a sandbox for history nerds like me to enjoy seeing different armies and technologies that never met in real life face off against each other. None of them are one hundred percent accurate—I've changed a few things for narrative purposes, and a few others for the sake of making sure the world makes sense—but hopefully people will be able to spot the real cultures that I reference.

The Lavender Company plays a significant role in Tristan's development. Can you talk about how you developed this group of warriors and their dynamics?

This was definitely one of my more challenging tasks. I had a very clear image of what I wanted the Lavender Company to look like, but I also didn't want to overwhelm my readers with an endless wave of characters. This meant I had to spend a lot of time finding a way to make the Company feel like a real, living community, without completely overwhelming the narrative. In the end, I'm happy with how it turned out, and it was really rewarding to see these characters come to life.

In terms of how I've portrayed the individual mercenaries of the Lavender Company, I had plenty of great sources to draw on. The condottierri of Renaissance Italy were one historical group I looked at, while I was also heavily inspired by some of the great military fiction books out there, such as the works of Bernard Cornwell, Simon Scarrow, and R. W. Peake.

I'm definitely not finished building the Lavender Company—let's just say it's far from reaching its full potential.

Catarina is described as a fiery daughter. What was your process for writing her character and her relationship with Tristan?

Catarina is possibly my favourite character in the entire book. I don't want to give too much away, but she's definitely not one to stay quiet when she sees something she doesn't like, which pairs nicely with Tristan's, let's say, 'behavioral issues', throughout the story.

But as we all know, sometimes relationships that start off rough can develop into something quite different…

The title, The Broken Prince, is very evocative. Can you discuss how you arrived at this title and its significance to the story?

I pondered the title for a while, wanting to find something that described both the story and the protagonist. The great thing about the word 'broken' is that it's vague. It could mean anything from completely shattered beyond repair, to a little bit chipped, but still mostly functional.

As for what it means here, I don't know. That will be something for Tristan and the readers to decide together.

How did you approach writing about Tristan's struggles with alcohol and its impact on his life and relationships?

This was tough. Alcoholism has destroyed many lives and isn't something to be taken lightly, but it's portrayal in literature can sometimes be a bit overly comedic. Don't get me wrong, I love humour in writing and it's a tool I've used myself in this book, but a topic like this definitely deserves some serious moments too.

I guess in the end I tried to portray Tristan as a real human, and his struggles with alcohol are all part of that. He has reasons for every action he takes, whether they're good reasons is another matter entirely, but I hope people will see a little of themselves in Tristan, and that his struggles might be able to help them. 

Francesco Cattaneo is a charismatic mercenary captain who influences Tristan. Can you discuss his character and the role he plays in the story?

Francesco is another of my favourites, but was also fairly challenging. He's introduced as a mentor figure to Tristan, but it can be hard to write an experienced mentor character these days without falling into an endless pit of cliches. So, as with Tristan, I tried to give Francesco a life beyond the role he plays in Tristan's story. He's a person with his own complex relationships and history, and I wanted to respect that.

Family dynamics, especially between Tristan and his father, are central to the narrative. Can you discuss how you explored this relationship in the book?

Yeah, family dynamics are certainly key, and I think that they're also probably one of the most relatable aspects of the book. Few of us are princes with swords and armour, but plenty of us have had disagreements with parents or other authority figures. Of course, when you're both a prince and have a major disagreement with your father, the consequences can be quite explosive, as we see in the book.

The book is described as being perfect for fans of fantasy and historical fiction. How did you balance these two genres while writing The Broken Prince?

It was actually surprisingly simple. I've always found there to be a large crossover between the two genres—it's probably why I love reading them both. All it really required was for me to take magic out of the mix and create a historically authentic world—though hopefully one that holds a few surprises even for avid historians. The end result is something that perhaps doesn't fit snugly in either genre but keeps the essence of both.

Without giving away any spoilers, can you share a scene or moment from the book that you particularly enjoyed writing?

There are several battle scenes in the book which I had a lot of fun with, but my absolute favourite scenes involved a lot more talking than action. Many of the characters in the book, even those in supporting roles, have their own issues going on, and there are a few moments where these really flare up. I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say that the particular scene I have in mind doesn't involve Tristan or Catarina.