When Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series, he envisioned the hobbits as the common people of England - not the wealthy or titled, but the ones who just wanted a good life for themselves and their children. Frodo, Samwise and their friends don't intend to be heroes, they just want a little adventure. It's the peaceful Shire, though, their home, and those friendships, that turn them into heroes.
That is what makes epic fantasy truly epic - ordinary people who do extraordinary things.
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In The Coming Storm, I wanted to write about a people who had a belief system that emphasized being the best person you could be, to try to do the best you could for your people, and had an inviolable code of honor - yet they would be people you would still like, admire and want to get to know.
When I wrote The Servant of the Gods series it was at least partly because Anubis always got such a bad rap. He wasn't a bad guy, his job was to help those who had died move on to the next world. I also wanted to write about someone who was willing to sacrifice everything for the greater good. No matter the cost. Even though the ending of the first novel is clear from the beginning, I still have readers who wish it were different. (Just FYI, it was always meant to end that way, the first and second books were written one after the other.)
Song of the Fairy Queen was inspired first by a work of art, then by the title (and a scene where Kyriay gets exasperated by this song inspired by her actions), but I also didn't want to write a traditional 'Fairy' tale. In many fairy tales, the fairy are either twittering little things like birds, or cold and distant Fae. I also wanted to write about the price of leadership - the kinds of decisions and sacrifices that a ruler has to make for the sake of their people.
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against anti-heroes, I just see more of them in fiction than in life. One piece of writing advice I'd always followed was "if the kind of book you want to read isn't out there, then write it". So I did.
It's clear from the reviews that those themes resonate with some people. In the world we live in, that's reassuring.