I wrote this tale while, among other things, dealing with a depressive and stressed-out mother. Suddenly, the old Snow Queen story grew new life, took on new meanings. I also recalled the depressives, "people who constantly bewept a sorrow that they could not give a name," ("sådana, som ständigt gräto över en sorg, som de inte kunde ge namn" in original Swedish; "solche, die beständig über einen Kummer weinten, dem sie keinen Namen zu geben wußten" in the German translation) in Selma Lagerlöf's Passion legend "The Shroud of Veronica," who break into a King Lear-like frenzy when they are told that Pilate has just killed the man who would restore their missing soul and reason: "in despair, they began to wound themselves, until blood flowed on the pavement" ("och i sin förtvivlan började de sarga sig själva, så att blodet flöt på stenarna" in original Swedish; "sie begannen in ihrer Verzweiflung sich selbst zu zerfleischen, bis ihr Blut auf den Boden troff" in the German translation). The impact of the fact that depression is incurable for good, and that hearing the death wishes of a person I adore, often in response to slights I have done without that intention, but also often due to collapsing under the pressure that life puts upon her... it makes me feel powerless. You cannot uproot the mirror shard for good in that case --a grieving person stranded in the fourth stage of grief, having to cope with trauma--. So I also noticed that her case, and my grandmother's case of depression, and many other incurable ones, are in midlife... so I determined to make the most out of my youth before this finite resource known as healthspan --both physical and mental/emotional-- dwindles. The peak comes right in the thirties of life, in fact. This story, The Crystal Queen, is an exhortation, in part, to make the most out of the warm seasons of our lives before the cold seasons begin.
It is also a cautionary tale about drugs --the mirror shards are replaced with crystal meth, the witch's cherries with marijuana, the villainess's surname, Schierling, means Hemlock in German--. Chemistry replaces the mind-control magic of yore. All supernatural elements --a talking sun, animals, and plants; a flying carriage; the aforementioned Mirror of Truth-- are replaced with more realistic equivalents (vox pops, a convertible, crystal meth; respectively), this being a fairytale of the new millennium.