notes on Summer-set
I was clearly seized by a fit of figurative language when I wrote the first paragraph for this one. I was aiming for an erotic romance, so reckoned that I might as well start by describing the dirty deed, but somehow it got dressed up in a lot of flowery description. I'm still amazed that I managed to get away with talking about the weather. I do have a weakness for talking about seasons, perhaps because I grew up in a place that had four distinct ones and now I'm in California... (Not complaining, mind you.)
The first scene I actually wrote was the encounter at the well, when a hunter gets distracted by a woman. I do believe in lust at first sight, but the quickness with which Ryu and Calanthe get together was mostly because this was one of my first attempts at writing romance, and I was impatient to get the good part started.
The woman was dark-skinned, which gave me an African-inspired setting. It mostly stayed in my head, I'm afraid, because of the standard fantasy aspects, but it did garner me a gorgeous cover and a determination to introduce a greater variety of cultures into my writing.
Ryuan wasn't originally a wolf-shifter, but an indeterminate "wildborn" creature; he, ah, shifted to take advantage of reader familiarity with werewolves. The vulnerability to silver then made sense, just due to common lore. It was nice to write about a werewolf without pack dynamics, though, since he starts off as the only one of his kind that he knows of.
I surprised myself by liking Iril (who coexists peacefully with Tamel's former lover) and Kaen's mother (who has a history of her own). Sometimes minor characters manage to appeal to me by having more depth than they need for their roles. On the other hand, I found myself disliking Melea for her (quite sensible!) timidity around Ryu so much that I wrote a separate story just about her relationship with Kaen to redeem her; that's actually become my one of my most popular free reads, "Fall, Falling, Fallen." (It's much sweeter than Summer-set, as befits its characters.)
If you like African settings with your fantasy, try Elizabeth Wein's Aksumite Cycle. They're found in the young adult section of bookstores, but are gut-wrenching enough for any older adult as well. Mordred (yes, of Arthurian legend — and I don't recommend any Arthurian-based fantasy easily) sires a son in Africa, a place seething with as much intrigue and heroism as any standard Euro-fantasy world.
If you didn't find my prose too heavy-handed, read almost anything by Patricia McKillip. Her use of language is simply exquisite and sweeps you away to traditional fantasy worlds with some warm romantic threads.