The first volume in the Tapestry of Life Series, and the first novel I wrote.
I began ElvenSword in my head long before I started writing it. My lady and I, and our eldest son had been on a trip through South Africa to see it for the last time, because we were emigrating to the UK. On the road back to Cape Town we passed through a town called Willowmore. Now you would imagine that such a town had a river flowing through it, lined with willows. Nope. A dry desolation, the river bed just dust and sand. A few miles on the other side of the sadly misnamed Willowmore, I noticed one or two wildflowers in the storm water drains next to the road. A few miles further on, there were more. Then we passed a few stumpy bushes, and a couple of pines, and then within a few miles, we were in a magnificent rain forest.
The idea for a great trek came into my head, a story about a man who comes to an inn in those great southern forests in the Southern Cape, and takes the inn’s boy with him. The man is heir to the throne of a great empire, and the story was to have been how they would work out their love for each other while allowing the soon-to-be emperor the chance to produce heirs. I even wrote a bit of it. But I was so dissatisfied with my writing I put is aside.
Still, the idea of something like that haunted me, a story about men loving men and women, and having to do what honor and duty demanded, and the price they paid.
A visit to Christchurch (South Island, New Zealand) which has a splendid extinct volcano right on its doorstep gave me the idea of Cappor. And I wanted to set the story in the southern hemisphere, where it gets colder the further south you go. The final catalyst was Lynn Flewelling’s Luck in the Shadows. I used this to see how to write a story. The first few chapters were terrible. But gradually I got the knack of it, and started to write better. I rewrote those first few chapters nine or ten times — and I’m still not happy with them! I found, also, as countless writers have found since story-telling began, that my story evolved and changed in unexpected ways, that the characters themselves shifted and grew. And so ElvenSword is very different to the story as I first conceived it, though you can see the underlying themes are common.
I wanted to write about a world where love happened despite gender. I was sick of stories dominated by heterosexuals. But I also thought that in a world where the gender of your partner really didn’t matter, most people would be bisexual to some degree or another, that they would have a ceremony and and institution for same-sex marriage, and that they would have very different values to those we have. So to complete the switch, I made it a female-dominated society, where the duchesses and queens and empresses outrank their consorts.