The great 47North blog swap of 2013 continues! I’m on Jeff Wheeler’s blog today (talking about History’s Mysteries, or where to look for the story) and he is here to tell us how maps help shape his books. Read on:
There is something essential about having a map in a fantasy world. Back during medieval times, a cartographer would reach the edge of their known world and often draw a picture of a dragon or a sea serpent with the label, “Here There Be Dragons”—meaning, in short, “I have no idea what’s over here.”
First off, I am not an artist. Sometimes I sketch my maps on my computer and sometimes I sketch it by hand. There needs to be a mix of mountains, forests, valleys, and rivers. There are little stories behind each of the countries and places and how their history fits into the general plot. I like to keep the borders of my worlds rather vague, suggesting that there are places that have not been discovered yet; where the dragons live, so to speak. It gives me flexibility as an author to continue building the world.
Today I interview fellow 47North author Steve McHugh. Steve writes fantasy, lives in England, and self-published his first two books before they were picked up by 47North. Read on:
Q: Tell me about your books, Steve – what drew you to writing a dark urban fantasy series?
I’ve always been drawn to dark fantasy of one kind or another, and when the Hellequin books started to take shape, I knew that was genre they’d be in. I couldn’t have characters from mythology, murder, mayhem and an entire part of the world hidden from human view, without it being on the dark side.
A: It happened pretty quickly. I had an email from them in Feb asking if they could talk to me about us working together, and then a phone call the next day to discuss everything. A week later they offered me a 3 book deal to republish my first 2 books and then publish my 3rd next year. I’ve been working with them since then.
Q: What will change in the books for the 47North re-release?
A: There are a few changes, things to make the story flow better or make a character a little more interesting. In a way these are my director’s cuts.
Q: Where do you get your best writing done — home, coffeehouse, other?
A: My office is at home, so I get most of my work done there, usually when my 3 daughters are in bed. Otherwise I get harassed constantly or have to settle some dispute or another.
Q: Do you outline your books in advance or are you the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of writer?
A: Somewhere in the middle. I know the beginning and end and I’ve got a pretty good idea what happens between the two, but I don’t map out every chapter. I tend to have an idea of where I want the end of the chapter to be and then I see what happens. If I mapped everything out in advance, I’d only change it all anyway.
Q: Favorite quote from one of your own books?
A: I’ve got a few favourites, but they spoil the plot somewhat, so my favourite non-spoiler is in Born of Hatred. It’s between Nate and Olivia, an agent for Avalon.
Olivia forced a smile. “You really are not what I’d expected.”
“I’m an enigma wrapped inside a riddle, all bundled in something quite wonderful.”
“It’s nice to see you have a healthy opinion of yourself.”
“It’s a burden I live with every day.”
Q: Just because I’m curious about how other authors function — do you read your Amazon and Goodreads reviews?
A: I try not to because once in a while you’ll get a bad one that’s either nasty, or you really disagree with and you’ll feel crappy. So, I tend to stay away from reading reviews too often. I pop over every once in a while and see how they’re going, but I try not to make a habit of it.
Q: Best thing about the writing life? Worst thing?
A: The best thing is seeing your idea crafted before you, having it come to life. But also, having people who have enjoyed your work tell you so. That’s an amazing experience.
The worst? Deadlines. Deadlines suck. Especially when you get 3 or 4 in a very short period of time. And when that deadline is editing based, it sucks even more.
Q: E-books or paper ones?
A: E-books. These days I don’t have the room for shelves full of books, mostly because my shelves are already full of books. That’s not to say I don’t read paper books any more, but I’m more likely to pick up an e-book.
Q: Finally, what are you working on now?
A: I’m currently working on book 4 of the Hellequin Chronicles, Prison of Hope, and a novella, Infamous Reign, which takes place in the same world as the Hellequin books.