• Amelia Crowley

Maps

Updated: Sep 14

At the start of the Discworld novel Sourcery, Sir Terry Pratchett observed: "This book does not contain a map. Please feel free to draw your own" I had never really wondered before why so many books, especially fantasy books, had maps in them. If anything I suspect I thought it was one of those things that everybody just assumed you were supposed to do, because Tolkien had done it, in the same way that characters in fantasy novels, especially back in the eighties, tended to burst into song at a moment’s notice.

Besides, maps are fun, maps look impressive, maps let the reader know a little bit more about the way an author imagines their world. I just figured some people really loved maps.

And then I wrote The Vicar Man. And wanted to send my characters for a little walk across the island. And realised, in the process of writing this, that I hadn’t the foggiest idea where anything actually was.

So that’s how I learned what the maps were for. I spent the rest of my time writing with this stuck up on the wall behind me:


A roughly drawn attempt at mapping the world inside the writer's head. The map is drawn in pencil, on paper that was cheap to begin with but is now quite literally falling apart. It is peeling away from the wall and the blu-tack it was stuck up with is visible through the paper. Most of the icons and captions on the map are illegible, but the words "Ominous Cliff" stand out so clearly that the author almost wishes she'd planned it that way. The roads are coloured in in yellow, because there was a yellow crayon handy at the time.
A poorly drawn map

It’s badly drawn, out of scale, and littered with things I was planning to use but never got around to including. I am immensely proud of it, and would absolutely include it in the endpapers of my book if I could. Given the state it's in, it’s probably a good thing that I can’t. Fortunately my husband, out of the infinite goodness of his technology loving heart (or maybe because he had some new software to play with) made me a new, shinier, infinitely prettier version. If you’d like a copy: to see what I cut out, to use as wallpaper, or just to print off and use as a location for a game of Dungeons and Dragons, you can find one here.

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