I am in the process of reaching out to locate an artist that could do up a map for the Divine Lotus series– one complaint I got back from my beta readers on Princess of Shadows was that they didn’t have a map of the Val Empire for reference. I have a sketch map I created for my reference, but it’s pretty amateur–
If I can find someone who can pretty that up for a reasonable price, it would be nice to add it to my existing novels before Princess of Fire is ready. Of course, ‘reasonable’ right now equates to ‘damn near free’, so this may not happen right away.
I love maps. I actually have a small collection; I’ve been known to buy National Geographic issues just to get the map inserts. One of my maps, which I think I picked up in a used book store years ago, is one of a series of maps printed by the US government for aviators in the US Air Force during World War II. It’s of northern China, and it’s printed on silk. Yep, they did that.
As a writer, maps are often my starting point, especially (and not surprisingly) for my fantasies. J.R.R. Tolkien, in inventing languages, found history implied in the different dialects he created. Maps do the same thing for me; geography implies interconnection, or separation, or conflict, or cultural differences, and provide the stage on which I can work out the action. For an amateur geographer I think I do all right (I do admit, though, that the map of the Empire might be a little, uh, busy. Also, my penmanship leaves something to be desired).
It’s not just fantasies that need maps, though. When I was working on my alternate history stories involving the Tudor dynasty in America, I took a wall map of the world and outlined the borders of the nations and empires in the stories, which was a fun exercise and helped me get the international relationships of that world straight in my head. (I actually did a tremendous amount of research and note-making for those stories, which are now defunct. Sigh).
Every writer has things that spark their imagination. For me, picking up a blank piece of paper and sketching out continents, islands, mountain ranges and rivers cranks up my story-telling apparatus. Not a conventional approach, perhaps, but for me, satisfying.