Wildflower Crown was a long time in the making. I was fascinated by the thought of someone growing up in the wild and then trying to adapt to normal life. It’d been done before, but typically with men. When someone on an old writing site I used to use gave the prompt, “Someone must defend their home,” Wild was born.
Here is that piece. Literally nothing you read from this will be in the actual book, but I think it’s a nice standalone piece and it’s interesting (to me, at least) how this came to be Wildflower Crown.
As an infant, I was left in a field to die. It was a justified decision of behalf of the farmer who left me there for he was no kin of mine; he had no ties to me. I was a halfing, part forest folk and part human. My parents must have each come from another world, my existence stemming from their union. As I was not fully Other, I could not live among the creatures of the forest, the eldritch presences that lurk and lure travelers to their doom. Nor, as not fully human, could I live among the people, in a small farm or in the poorer districts of a crowded city.
I was caught between the worlds, never to live comfortably in either. My parents, not caring about my fate, left me on the old farmer’s doorstep. He heard my cries, took a look at my glistening hair and unnaturally colored eyes, and left me in the barren hills for the wolves to devour.
Any human child would have died from either the elements or the predators in the area. Being half Other, I survived. The wolves did not make a meal of me. They talked to me. Animals lived between the human world and the world of the Others; that made us one of the same. Therefore, they took me in, fed me in their den, raised me until I was fit to live on my own. I could talk to them, of course, not in words, but through our minds, using a power bestowed upon us by something greater than ourselves. I made friends with the wolves, as much as one can befriend wild beasts, but as all pups are pushed from the den and into the wild, I left them behind for a life of my own.
Originally, Kiss of The Fey was called Woman of Fire, Man of Ice. Why? Because I didn’t have any better ideas. Xenos was literally made of ice and Johara had a fiery passion. It all fit, right? However, I decided that the title didn’t really work with the book. It was too cliché, I felt, and it just didn’t convey the message that I wanted to get across. It was just a bit too literal and silly.
After tons of different titles were scribbled down and rejected, I decided on Kiss of The Fey. There are a few reason, all of them fairly obvious once you think about it.
The literal kiss. Xenos kisses Johara, which wakes her up. However, Xenos isn’t a fairy. He’s not magical. Why is his kiss in the title? Well, if you look up the word “fey”, the Scottish definition is “marked by a foreboding of death or calamity.” That fits very nicely, doesn’t it?
The figurative kiss. Going with what people typically assume when they hear “fey,” the fairy Kasmira “kissed” both Johara and Xenos with her magic. Without it, we wouldn’t have had much of a story, so it’s a pretty important part.
It’s not a very exciting explanation, nothing secretive that involves spies or explosions, but there you go. The meaning behind the title.
This post is to explain a few questions I’ve received about Kiss of The Fey. In it, Xenos is cursed by a fairy, and together Johara and Xenos must work together to break it. Some people have correctly pointed out similarities between Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, and Kiss of The Fey, but others have also pointed out Frozen (the movie) and other ice-related fairytales. This is not intentional.
When I first started writing Kiss of The Fey, it was a novella named “Princess Janoah’s Tale”. The writing prompt was to write a story inspired by a fairy tale, and the inspiration was Beauty and The Beast and Rapunzel. Yes, Rapunzel. Originally, Xenos had literally climbed into Janoah’s bedroom window. He had also been only 20 in that version, and Janoah was only 16. They were very silly back then.
Going forth from that, I cut out the Rapunzel part and stabbed Johara, inserting the Sleeping Beauty aspect. However, I didn’t want it to be so gentle, which is why her curse is so evil. When I thought of Xenos’s part in it, and how I could relate him to Beauty and The Beast, I realized that I had to do something more. He was cursed, but when he turned 31 he couldn’t just stay ugly. I didn’t want a literal interpretation of the fairytale. That’s what made me decide to have ice flow through his veins. This made it an actual curse. Instead of being ugly for his entire life, he was frozen. Because of his curse he did get some pretty nasty scars, but his physical appearance was never really a focus.
So as you can see, there was no Frozen/other fairytales behind the imagining of Xenos’s curse. I picked cold because not only did it go with living in the freezing north, but it drew a nice parallel to the original Beauty and The Beast curse. Also, it played on the fact that Xenos was supposed to be figuratively cold-hearted.