Jan 6, 2012

{Author Guest Post + Giveaway} Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Hello readers! Today I'm extremely excited to have one of my favorite author as a guest on SNR! Please welcome Maria V Snyder who is here to discuss how she maped out the realms in her new novel Touch of Power! Stay tuned at the end of the post for a chance to a copy of Touch of Power!
Don't forget to check out my 5 out of 5 start review: Touch of Power (Healer #1)


Since I write mostly fantasy, I’m often asked how I invent a new world.  My usual reply is I start with characters and a situation and the world develops from there.  And that’s how it worked with my Study and Glass series of books. 

Poison Study
begins with a woman on death row for murder, but I couldn’t have her commit a pre-meditated act or no one would like her.  So the society she lived in had to be strict enough to execute a person who killed in self-defense.  From there the Territory of Ixia was born with eight military districts and a powerful Military Dictator.  As I wrote the story, the southern lands of Sitia developed as a counterweight to Ixia, but I didn’t have a good map of Ixia and Sitia until after I wrote the third book, Fire Study

For my Insider books, I had dreamt the world.  It was all in my dream, so world-building in that case was easier.  But for Touch of Power, I needed a map right away.  I knew the characters would be traveling and from various countries so I needed a visual to help me keep track of everything.  And I must admit that was daunting. 

I love maps – always have and always will despite GPS and online directions.  I have a stack of them in my office for every state in the US.  I have all those beautiful maps that came with the subscription to National Geographic Magazine.  I also love to travel and the summer before writing Touch of Power, I was on a Baltic Sea cruise and visited Sweden, Finland, Russia, Latvia, and Poland.

Combine those two loves and I printed out a map of Eastern Europe.  I thought to traced the countries with a black marker and make them my Fifteen Realms.  I didn’t follow the real borders exactly (no fun in that).  Then I turned the map 90 degrees to the right and I had my Fifteen Realms.  I can’t take any credit for the idea of turning the map.  Wim Stolk, a writer/friend of mine gave me the idea (see Map 1).

Once I had a blank map, then I colored in the oceans and named everything (see Map 2).  As for the names of the Realms and the town names, I went back to my maps of Eastern Europe and Russia and found names of small towns that were interesting.  I made a list of them.  I changed the spelling of some or combined two, but kept most of them the same.  The name of the mountain chain, the Nine Mountains, isn’t on any map (that I know).  I named it that because Touch of Power is my ninth novel. J

Then I scanned my rough/colored map and used Photoshop to make it legible (see Map 3).  Not being an expert, I sent the file to my publisher where their artists converted into the beautiful map in the front of the book.  Easy, right? 

Oh, and I never trust my GPS – I always check its directions against a map, making sure I agree with it before leaving.  And if I agree, then I let it tell me where to go (it helps not to have to drive and look at a map – remember those days?).

Is anyone else a map-aholic?

Maria V. Snyder switched careers from meteorologist to novelist when she began writing the New York Times best-selling Study Series (POISON STUDY, MAGIC STUDY and FIRE STUDY) about a young woman who becomes a poison taster.  When she’s not traveling, Maria lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, son, and daughter.

SERIES TITLE: The Healer Series
RELEASE DATE: January 2011
Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan absorbs their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos. Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life....

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Grand prize: The grand prize will be on Maria V Snyder Website: Contest
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  1. Interesting post, I love learning about how TOP came together. Thanks for the giveaway!

  2. I'm not a mapaholic - I get lost a lot - but I do love Google maps!

  3. Despite the fact that I have absolutely no sense of direction (even with a GPS) I've always loved maps! I once got my grandparents lost while trying to get from my childhood home to the grocery store... and I was in the car with them! But I think maps and globes are fascinating and I've actually collected them for years. Great post from one of my favorite authors!

  4. I love having maps while reading a book! It makes it easier to relate to the storyline!

  5. I love maps! I've always like globes and collected maps in my closet as a kid. I used them like wallpaper in the closet! The ironic part...is I get lost easily. LOL But I can find my way back. Thanks for sharing how you made your maps. It's in interesting process!

  6. I use to use maps when I first moved into my new area, but I have a excellent sense of direction. Even if I'm lost, I'm pretty good at getting back on track without needing to use any help.

    However, I do use maps but i wouldn't call myself a mapaholic.

    As for Mapquest, I use it a lot when I'm trying to see how far place A is from place B. When I'm in the car though, I use the GPS.

  7. Great comments everyone! Im a similar to those who even get lost with a GPS...Sadly yes... But I love Maria's map of the realm its really set a picture in your head to where the lead characters Kerrick and Avry are heading too.

    Thanks for the comments! Keep them coming!

  8. Awesome post! I wish I were a mapaholic - maybe I wouldn't get lost all the time! LOL

  9. I am not a mapaholic, I've always hated folding them. I think your maps are fascinating. I can see where they would come in handy to a writer.

    seriousreader at live dot com

  10. Yes I'm a Mapaholic, I cant go anywhere with out getting lost. LOL Your map quest was interesting.

  11. I do love maps. I get turned around sometimes, but if an author includes one, I appreciate knowing how everything lays out in his/her mind. :) I love how Maria used Europe for a base and the naming of everything. That part sounds really fun.

  12. I like old maps, and I enjoy trying to figure out where stuff is with maps. It always feels good to get my bearings and think I might be able to actually find where the place is that I'm looking up. I think Maria did a great job on her Map Quest, I sure couldn't do it.

  13. I do love maps. I remember making my own as a child. Nothing flash, but fun.

    Maria's Map Quest is wonderful.


  14. I'm a huge mapaholic! I think they add so much to the story. I love seeing it in a picture. Adds to the world building for me.

  15. I'm SO excited to read this book!

  16. I love maps INCLUDED in books. It makes it much easer to picture their route.
    Using one to actually get somewhere... well lets just say I'm always lost.

  17. I loooove maps! I find them challenging and exciting at the same time. I do feel your map quest. I consult your map when I was reading the map series. And even the floor plan of the magician's keep. haha!

  18. Thank goodness for GPS. I use to get lost so often going to the beach, that I'd go the same wrong way every time cause it looked so familiar.

  19. That is amazing to learn about how she created the maps! I can't wait to read the book!

  20. I love maps - I have a huge collection of old ones from National Geographics. One of these days I'll frame some of them...

    I always get lost when using a GPS - I need a big picture map to orient myself first, otherwise my sense of direction is all out of whack.

  21. I wouldn't say I'm a map-aholic, but I found this post to be very interesting! I think it is important to map out a fantasy-land for a story...it makes the writing more realistic, so good job Maria!

  22. I definitely am not a map-aholic since I'm very bad at using them! I love the process you go through Maria in making your maps!

  23. Great article! We are linking to this great article on our site. Keep up the good writing.