Tuesday 1 September 2015


On my blog today I am pleased to welcome the extremely successful and talented independent author, Prue Batten. Her books are always among the top-sellers in their categories on Amazon and I hear nothing but praise for her prose and immersive tales of the medieval world. 

On 31st August, you released your latest book, Tobias. Tell us a bit about it.

It is the journey of one man and his brother – dwarves, or as they are known today, little people. In the medieval era they were sometimes feared, sometimes desired as curious court trophies. Tobias and Tommaso are on a secret mission to retrieve the infamous and heavily policed dye called Tyrian Purple from Constantinople, at risk to their lives.

It’s been an exceptionally hard book to write as I knew nothing of the condition called achondroplasia or dwarfism and that alone required deep research and help from little people themselves. My medieval world could not be scaled down. My characters had to cope. And then of course, there was complex subject matter like the vast history of the Byzantine Empire, the Orthodox Church, iconography, sailing the Adriatic, Hellespont and Bosphorus and so much more…

Where did you get the inspiration for Tobias? 

Tobias existed in two previous novels (Book of Knights and Book of Kings) in his role as troubadour, spy and companion, but he was always a secondary character. My editor, John Hudspith, had come to love Toby and he suggested there was a story that should be told. I thought about it, Toby and I talked and he agreed that I should proceed.

What was the biggest surprise for you while writing Tobias?

That his story was so very deep and moving. It still stuns me.

You have written several books now. In general, do you find that the story chooses you or that you choose the story?

The story always chooses me.

You live on a working farm in Tasmania. How much of your environment and experiences do you think flow into your writing?

Hugely. If one takes away the mechanisation and modern animal husbandry (drugs and chemicals), then farming is as medieval and raw as it ever was. Barley and oats still feel the same as they slide through one’s palm, soil still smells the same after rain – promising food for the coming year, sheep give birth in the same way, wool still leaves a coating of fatty lanolin behind as one stretches the crimp. And of course, there is the unfortunate brutality of nature – snow, wind and rain at lambing, the need to put an animal down swiftly if it is in dire straits and beyond help. The despair of a dry year. Riding horses, the aftermath of a dog attack, the conviviality of country life. All I need to do is make pottage and strike a flame for the fire, light a tallow candle and I am there…

What writer or book has had the biggest influence on your work?

In historical fiction? Dorothy Dunnett without doubt.

What is the best thing about being a writer?

The best is the widespread friendship online. Seven years ago, I knew no one who wrote. Now some of my closest and, I predict, lifelong friends are writers.

And the worst thing? 

My total lack of self-discipline!!! I should be sent to the corner or made to write 100 times on the blackboard, ‘I will concentrate much harder’.

What is the best book you've read in the last twelve months?

Ann Swinfen’s Cristoval series (I have read two and am on the third in the series.) So very clever and beautifully written.

What is the most exciting experience you've had as a result of writing?

Winning a silver medallion in the USA for A Thousand Glass Flowers and being talked about online by The Huffington Post.

What is next for you? The sequel to Tobias? What plans after that?

Tobias is the first in a three book chronicle called The Triptych Chronicle. The second is entitled Guillaume and takes place in France. I’m currently researching it. The third is a dilemma as I’m in two minds. Should I write about Mehmet al Din, the Arab doctor, or about William of Gisborne and the Fourth Crusade…

And now for the quick-fire questions:

Tea or coffee?

Tea – chamomile. Sadly I’m sensitive to caffeine.

Burger or hot dog? 

Burger – with homemade fruit chutney and grilled haloumi. Definitely not Macca’s.

Villain or hero?

Depends on the man! Hmm, on second thoughts an anti-hero – the tough chap who is bad but could be redeemed.

Beer or wine?

Wine – white, chilled. And maybe a second glass…

Movie or TV series?

TV series.

Happy ending or tragedy?

I quite like the bittersweet. Then again, I’m not adverse to the hero and heroine sailing contentedly off into the sunset.

In the car, audio-book or music?

Either/or. Depends on the voice. Certain male audio voices have been known to cause me to drive off the road, their tone is so spine tingling.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions and may you have continued success in the future!

Matthew, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for inviting me.

Buy Tobias here and keep up to date with Prue and her books at the following:


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