The Huntsmen was one of those stories that I wrote because the general concept wouldn't stop nagging at me: how did the princess of the original tale, collected by the Grimm brothers back in the early 19th century, manage to find eleven women who looked just like her? (It was only after I finished the story that I remembered that the majority of people at the time had no access to corrective lenses, so many people would have been too nearsighted to tell the difference.) And why go to so much effort just to get an unfaithful lover back?
I was so focused on those questions that I more or less ignored the other oddity of the tale - the sudden, never explained entrance of a talking lion. But as I shuffled the lion to the side, he started nagging at me too.