Almost all stories have some sort of underlying message, in many cases more than one. I touch on many issues in my fantasy novel, from women's rights to evolution to religion to racism. However, there is one true emotional undercurrent to my book, and it is based upon my own greatest fear in life.
In my story, the main character has certain expectations to meet, from his duty to the king to his own expectations on how to properly prepare his children for life. These expectations are offset by his tremendous fear for the safety of his children, especially since he already experienced the death of his eldest son in a manner for which he holds himself responsible.
This ties in exactly with my greatest nightmare, which is a fear of something bad happening to one or both of my sons. As logical and sane as I consider myself to be, I cannot imagine what I would do if something happened to them. I feel like I would lose my mind and no longer want to live. So, I poured some of that fear into the story line of my main character, only I had him actually have to confront the reality of his fears coming true, not just with the original death of his eldest, but later with his youngest son also dying. I have to admit that I cannot read that part of the story without tearing up a bit. I read it aloud to my family and I had to pause when I reached that scene. I sure hope I never have to face this fear during my life.