Wild Things map workshop

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Photo courtesy of Where the Wild Things Are

Some overdue photos from my map workshop — these are from the first instance of it, held at the wonderful Brisbane YA and children’s book store Where The Wild Things Are who ordinarily give marvellous workshops, and still give excellent advice. Like all bookstores, they could use some return support at this time (see also parent store: Avid Reader).

Here we all are on the back deck of Avid Reader. It was billed as an older kids workshop, and we ended up with a mixture of ages which I’ve always found delightful. Everyone gets both so light and so serious.

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Courtesy of Where The Wild Things Are.

At one stage in the workshop, we build a world, to make sure everything is connected and water (absent serious provocation) flows downhill (the two most important cartographic principles), and that hills and forests are where they ought to be for the tale. (My dad, an infantry officer and grazier, used to do this with us to explain tactics or cattle movements).

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Below, a cartographer contemplates the sea, which can be identified in the photo above by a very small lighthouse.

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It’s the most delightful workshop. We start with the same base story-shape to illustrate, and build it out with adaptations, themes, techniques, variations…

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I walk them through the process of illustrating a map, including a lot of my actual work for Holly Black’s Folk of the Air trilogy (I think only the Cruel Prince was out at this point).

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(Above is a glimpse of notes I took on trees from many maps in books and old atlases when I was working out the style of The Cruel Prince).

And then everyone gets so busy (I love this picture of hands).

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Some versions end up in space. Others appear to have swords stuck through them (this class wanted to know how to pin art to the wall with virtual daggers — I think this was because of the City of Bones 10th anniversary illustrations).

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(Spot the little house lurking under a wrist, there).

Art/writing activities:

(This is a variation on the activities in the Old Maps post).

  • Build a landscape to fit a story (a fairy tale, your own story, a movie...). On a grand scale, cushions, chairs, odd-shaped objects, and a blanket to throw over them will give you the basic layout. Then you can drape them with shawls and belts and toy houses, potplants, dinosaurs, etc to give watercourses, trees, and habitations. On a smaller scale, an assortment of cups and books with a light scarf draped over will give you a bijou universe. I’ve more than once built a small city out of thermoses, for reference.
  • For illustrators: convert this into a map (or a perspective landscape painting, if that’s your style).
  • For writers: consider how the terrain affects the story — often it can be the story. What can you see from a particular point (consider To Kill A Mockingbird)? What can’t you see from a particular point (consider “The Charge of the Light Brigade”)? What reasons might make one take the low road in preference to the high road? What (literally, but why not throw figuratively in there and make a family epic of it) stops a person getting from one side of the blanket to the other? If you move the lamp, how much of the land does the light touch? How much of the story could you tell in a glimpse from one hilltop (and who would be there to look?) — Michael Innes does this brilliantly in the opening of his (beautifully written although not unproblematic, in the ways one might expect from a country house murder mystery from the 1930s) Hamlet, Revenge!

Old maps

My family has often drawn maps. Next time I visit them (next time I’m allowed to — what a strange year this became) I need to dig out a pirate map — complete with ominous bullet hole — my father made when I was little. I think it’s in a big Nürnberger gingerbread chest with other childhood treasures.

One of my mother’s sisters was a draughtsperson, and took us on a memorable tour of the Yale plan department when we visited her there (and printed us plans of various buildings, as souvenirs!). My father’s brother got onto a few real actual maps, including in the Northern Territory (below — if you look at neighbouring names you’ll get an idea of the relevant decade) and Antarctica.

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When I was pulling together all our map books and atlases to take to some some map illustration workshops, we found a few more:

Here is a treasure map of our house out west, leading to a present for my mother. Whatever it was, we hid it in the bathroom. (The “giant’s causeway” was the stepping stones that led to the outdoor (unplumbed) toilet, so this was before we installed a septic tank and put a new toilet building at the site of the “thorny strait”).

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All good maps have a mermaid and a sea-monster.

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This one was for a very early (and somewhat culturally unexamined) Peter Pan birthday party for a (now 20-year old!) nephew, held around Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra.

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And here are the clues!

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Ideas, exercises, lessons:

  • All good maps have a mermaid and a sea-monster. If you have been world-building and have not taken this into account, consider redressing your omission. Think laterally if you must, but I see few reason why this cannot be literal. Space mermaids!
  • You can use all sorts of locations as a base for a fantastic world. Start with your living room and sketch a map, transpose the details into relevant fantastic locations (is the tissue box a volcano? a fever hospital?) and send a hero on an adventure across it. What perils might they meet? Rough out a quick scene (written or drawn, according to what you do).
    An advantage of this is that many rooms are roughly rectangular and so your world will print nicely onto the opening pages of a novel.
  • Converting a house to a fantastic location is one way to occupy time at home. You’ve got the option of a treasure hunt, of course, but you can be quite literal here, too. In fact, one time at college we had meant to go on a picnic, but it rained, so we went to great lengths to recreate a park (duckpond and all) in my room and had the picnic there. As social isolation increases, I’m going to have to work out what I can do to get (more of) a cafe vibe happening in my house.

 

The Queen of Nothing — the map!

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The Queen of Nothing, the third in Holly Black’s Folk of the Air trilogy, and sequel to The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King is now out! I’m visiting Massachusetts at the moment and got to ride along to Holly’s first event of her tour, at An Unlikely Story. But now I can also show you the map.

I have loved adjusting the map for this series (although altering wave patterns in ink with each new ocean detail, and splicing them in digitally, was certainly a challenge!).

Under the map (above) are sketches of possible treatments of the corners and new details. But other new pieces came from the little thematic sketches I made along the way (no spoilers).

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A few of the little original ink drawings of tiny new details are now available at Book Moon Books in Easthampton, Massachusetts (or will be by tomorrow, when I am sketching there!). Below is the tiniest.

(The cover art is not by me. Sean Freeman has been illustrating those, with design by Karina Granda. BUT I did draw the foil designs under the dust jackets on the hardcovers — and got to meet a girl with the Cruel Prince design tattooed on her arm, which was very exciting!).

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Art by Sean Freeman, design by Karina Granda, tiniest fox by me, SNAKE by Holly Black

The Wicked King – map!

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Holly Black’s The Wicked King, the follow-up to The Cruel Prince, is now well and truly out. Finally. I’ve been sitting on the plot of this book for a year and am delighted at seeing everyone else’s reactions to it now.

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I did not do the cover — that is by artist Sean Freeman and senior designer Karina Granda, and they have a post about it here: Evolution of a Cover.

I, however, did draw the internal ornaments, and… updated the map.

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The map begins from the same place as my map for The Cruel Prince, with certain shifts and adjustments for the direction this book takes.

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Below is one of my favourite changed details. Before:

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And after:

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I’m gradually expanding the published maps category over on my portfolio. Stay tuned!

December Calendar – Ships a-sailing

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Welcome to the December calendar (brought to you, as ever, with your priceless support on Patreon – we’re $10 short of restarting the Dalek Game again over there, should you wish to help!).

Due to all the maps of recent days, I’ve been wanting to do a pseudo-nautical calendar (again — there’s a cameo appearance from August 2017‘s cast this month).

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It was not intended to be a festive calendar (although I might make a sea-serpent garland this year), mostly because I was travelling and forgot this would be for December. (I am home now, and reminded of it constantly.) However, should you require a carolling connection, just pick any three ships (or check out the Patreon, for occasional stationery from this and previous years).

The calendar page is below, pre-coloured or to colour at home.

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The Writers Book of Doubt

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Hello from JFK Airport (I’m heading home!) and welcome to Submissionland! This is a map I have been working on for Aidan Doyle’s Writer’s Book of Doubt, the kickstarter for which has just opened (and nearly funded). You can find out more about the map, essays, etc on the campaign page: The Writer’s Book of Doubt.

Map Makers Workshop!

I’m giving a map workshop at Where the Wild Things Are bookstore in Brisbane on 3 October.  This is an illustration workshop (I am not a cartographer!) about making maps of and for stories. Details and tickets are available from the bookstore’s website: Mapmakers Workshop with Kathleen Jennings.

It’s a school holiday workshop for ages 10+, but adults are welcome!

(If you’re a little bit further north, I’m giving Marvellous Bird and Narrative Imagery workshops in Hervey Bay and Maryborough on 22 & 23 September).