Carol Berg: One of my aims when I create new heroes or heroines is to make them real people. I want readers to believe they had a life before walking onto the canvas of my story and will (if the story permits!) have a life when they walk off again. But of course, after the traumas/losses/victories of the story, the nature of that life is often irrevocably changed.
Ever since my novel Song of the Beast was published, I’ve had readers asking what became of Aidan McAllister--a scarred, broken singer of visions, who saved his world from the scourge of dragon warfare. At the end of the story, he abandons his friends and his hope of a normal life to lead the beasts into the wild. I decided that it would be fun to satisfy the readers’ curiosity and mine, and so I wrote “The Heart’s Coda.”
Marie Brennan: Some years ago I bought a pair of black-and-red beaded earrings from the jeweler Elise Matthesen, who habitually gives titles to all the pieces she makes. The earrings are called "At the Sign of the Crow and Quill," and like many authors, I pledged to Elise that I would try to write something by that title someday. The mood that evoked in my mind was very much a Lace and Blade mood, so when I received an invitation to submit to the anthology, that turned out to be the spark I needed to transform the phrase into characters and plot.
Heather Rose Jones: “Gifts Tell Truth” is set in the same world as my Alpennia series: a
The events in “Gifts Tell Truth” haven’t been specifically referenced in the books, other than a passing comment about how the stories of her youth aren’t appropriate for innocent ears. But I knew in a general way that during the French occupation of Alpennia, just after Jeanne’s unexpected marriage to a much older French aristocratic émigré, she led a wild and scandalous life, spurred on by a tragic event in her coming-out season (which will be told in a later story). The current story grew out of wanting to explore the origins of some of her later attitudes and reflexes, with the added bonus of showing the start of an odd but enduring friendship that features in the novels.
Pat MacEwen: My son-in-law runs EuCon – an annual Comic-Con that takes place in Eugene, Oregon every fall. I met one of their celebrity guests last year – Deep Roy – a diminutive actor who has played Yoda and all of the Oompa Loompas, and has had many other roles in science fiction and fantasy films. The man has a delightful sense of humor and such a deep and abiding intelligence, he intrigued the hell out of me. It so happened I’d already run across a biography of Lord Minimus, and I found myself imagining Deep Roy in the role of that valiant though very short cavalier. And then I got to wondering what would happen if the smallest man in British history were to encounter the Little People during the height of the English Civil War. Now I’m working on a screenplay about his further adventures in France, with the Court-in-Exile.
Marella Sands: A few years ago, a Pakistani man I know introduced me to the game of cricket. He was so excited about it that I guess I just caught the fever, because then I started watching it (also, I read "Cricket for Dummies," which is actually a real thing). For my birthday that year, I asked for a subscription to Willow TV (all cricket, all the time). While I was watching a match and wondering what to do for this story, I suddenly thought, why aren't there more team sports in fantasy stories? Not just mentioned in passing, or set up as a bit of world-building, but introduced as something so integral to the plot, you couldn't have the story without the sport. Almost instantly, I had my four main characters, who play a very cricket-like game in a vaguely West African-like land.
Dave Smeds: There is a great deal of me in “The Wind’s Kiss.” The fulfillment I feel in being a father. The contemplation of the pioneer life led by my ancestors as they moved westward, often literally dwelling right at the edge of civilization, first settlers on the scene. The vital need in our hearts for passion between, and admiration of, one’s lover. However, there is also a more specific inspiration for this particular piece. In August, 2016, I was finally able to take a journey through Nebraska. For the first time in my life, and quite possibly for the last time, I visited the grave of my great great grandmother, Marancy Alexander Warner. The land there has a windswept, deeply conscious aspect. I wanted to install that presence in my fiction as soon as possible, and as it happened, that sort of setting and mood was perfect for what I wanted to write for Lace and Blade 4.