Creating a Whole New World

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I've always loved fantasy maps. I remember when I was little, spreading open the pages of a book to show the map, and keeping my finger there, tracing the routes of the characters as they journeyed through the fantasy world. 

So when I wrote my fantasy, I knew I wanted a map to go with it. 

I built the world as I wrote, so I didn't draw my own map until after the book was entirely done. Still, the world itself was utterly vivid to me. 

Some of the world was based on my own fancies. I love moons, so I made the island where Nedra and Grey live look like a crescent moon. I added smaller islands trailing into the larger one and called them the "Stellar Chain."

But the fact that the story takes place on an island at all came from a real-life island I discovered one day called North Brother Island. This small island is just off the edge of Manhattan, and it had been used to house a quarantine hospital. Long since abandoned, I stumbled across images of the eerie, empty buildings and immediately knew I wanted to write a story about it. 

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

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Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

This island became the basis of the island Nedra works and eventually lives on. I really encourage you to look up more information on North Brother Island--the pictures look straight out of a ghost story, and the history is rich. This small island has been a part of Manhattan's history from the first colonists (and, of course, was no doubt important prior to colonization), and was most famously utilized as a quarantine hospital for smallpox.

Once I had my world created into the book, I wanted to bring it to life in a map. 

I'm no artist, but I tried my best! I started with a pencil sketch that I then outlined in pen

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I'm no artist, but I tried my best! I started with a pencil sketch that I then outlined in pen. After that, it was time to break out the watercolors...

There are definitely some areas that I wish I was more talented and could change or fix, but the final result isn't so bad...

I was really proud of the final draft! But I also knew I needed something a little different (and better, haha) for the book

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I was really proud of the final draft! But I also knew I needed something a little different (and better, haha) for the book. So I reached out to artist Cat Scully, who I knew could turn my map idea into something bigger and better and even more beautiful.

And boy did Cat ever deliver! Isn't this map just dreamy?! I'm so partial to the corner skulls that fit the book so well, but I also love the way the river winds through the mainland, and the 3-D like effects of the quarantine hospital and castle ...

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And boy did Cat ever deliver! Isn't this map just dreamy?! I'm so partial to the corner skulls that fit the book so well, but I also love the way the river winds through the mainland, and the 3-D like effects of the quarantine hospital and castle on Lunar Island. 

Have you ever made a map for a world you created? How did you go about it? 

NOTE!!! If you pre-order this book from my local indie bookstore, Malaprops.com, you will get a poster of this map! Plus, you'll get a signed, personalized book, a booklet full of more background information and graphic novel pages of one of my favorite scenes, and a really cool sticker featuring my favorite quote from the book! 

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