One of the most difficult challenges of writing a novel is creating realistic backstories for all your characters and then sustaining those backstories throughout the novel. There is a great deal of note-taking involved. It’s easy to write down some important information on a scrap of paper and than find that piece of paper two weeks later. You stare at it with a blank expression because it’s one of a million pieces of information that has been floating around on your desk, on a counter, nightstand. You kick yourself for not having entered it into a proper file when you first wrote it. But the reason you wrote it on the scrap of paper in the first place, was because you didn’t have time to file it properly. It’s a crazy process and I don’t suspect there is any writer who has not experienced it.
So I have a character named Gherardus Fabbro (Do not pronounce the G. Think Hair. HAIR – AR – DUS). I don’t want to say there are “good guys – bad guys” in the story because everyone has their motivation for what they do, but Gherardus Fabbro would be considered by most to be a bad guy. In 1198, when ‘The Crystal Crux’ series takes place, Gherardus is the Lord of Parthenope, Grand Duke of Campania. He runs the show. And he’s ruthless in how he maintains order.
For his particular backstory, I needed to create a warrior mentality, a man who had been through some scrapes.
The Lombard League was a league of northern Italian cities that unified in 1167 to resist the advancing Holy Roman Emperors (which at this time were neither holy nor Roman. They were German kings). Emperor Frederick I, Barbarossa, was their chief nemesis. The Emperor organized several campaigns into Italy and the Lombard League fought him.
I inserted these events into Gherardus Fabbro’s backstory, making him a seasoned campaigner who fought with the Lombard League when he was younger. Pitting Gherardus against the Empire also strengthened the tension between him and my protagonist, Pero de Alava.
Pero is at Capua with an Imperial commission. Pero supports the election of Barbarossa’s descendant, Philip of Swabia, to be the next Emperor. Gherardus sides with Philip’s enemy.
There’s no way this can end well for both of them.