This book started as a challenge in my writer's group. We were all to write an erotic short story, so I invented the Hob's world and a woman who was different from the ones I'd written before: a woman who started out as a good mediaeval housewife then was honed by survival into a woman of strength and character. It didn't turn out to be erotica, but I liked the story. Unfortunately, I couldn't get a good hold on Aren's character when I backed up to the softer woman the story began with. This was a problem I'd never encountered before, characters usually come easily to me. In frustration I shifted to first person, but not even that desperate effort seemed to help. I workshopped it at two writer's groups, and at last, Jerry Oltion hit the nail on the head. "Things just happen to her. She never does anything," he said. And I learned a very simple truth, good characters have to do something - which was counter to the character I'd established for her. So I changed the first chapter and suddenly Aren was a real person to me.