I grew up on those ‘mythology for children’ books, that told the stories of Norse mythology in all their gory details (except for that bit where Loki ties his figs to a goat), and Wayland the Smith. I loved Songs of Earth and Power by Greg Bear, far superior to his science fiction, all about the Sidhe and the Urges and the Humans. More recently, the Sookie Stackhouse novels reminded me of how much I love the stories of these violent, brutal and beautiful races.
Another thing I realised while writing them is that I unconsciously try to avoid being lighthearted while I write, and that this is counterproductive. The story I was writing while I realised this, ‘Windmill’, is noticeably better than the other three as a result.