Every high fantasy novel needs a map, right? Unfortunately, I am not the most visually inventive person. So, when it came time to devise a realm for my latest story, I decided to base it on a region I know. It worked for Tolkien, right? Let’s learn a little about Bryn, Hexborn’s imaginary kingdom.
The rain had washed the air clean, and the view from the dock took Shiloh’s breath away even more than the corset already had. The Bay stretched out in front of them, and the hills and buildings of the City were bathed in morning light on the other side of the water. A few islands poked up out of the blue, capped by lighthouses. The two great lighthouses were clearly visible, the one on the City side and its twin on the Gate side.
She’d read about their construction in one of Edmun’s books about the history of the kingdom. A thousand men had died building them, and the underwater barrier, which had only been closed a handful of times in days of war. The mechanism was tested every year, she’d read, at the vernal equinox. Shiloh had always wondered how the blazing towers would look by night. She supposed she would soon have a chance to find out.
Hatch reached out a hand to help her step onto the boat. She clutched his arm for balance as the deck rocked beneath her. “Thank you, Master Hatch. I’ve never been on a boat before,” she apologized.
“Never?” he asked. “With the Great Lake so close to your home?”
Shiloh shook her head. “I’d be bad luck out on the water. There’s not a man alive up there who would take me on his vessel. Not for buckets of gold.”
“Well, there couldn’t be a finer day for your first time afloat,” Hatch observed. The captain signaled to Silas, so he drew his wand and commanded the oars to star rowing themselves, and they began to cut across the Bay.
For the map of Bryn and its neighboring countries, I started with a map of Northern California, where I live. I used the broad topographical features to define the regions in Bryn, each of which is governed by a particular lord of the realm. The Sierra Nevada Mountains became “The Teeth.” Lake Tahoe became “The Great Lake.” The Central Valley became “The Range.” You get the idea.
Because I have been either to or through all of these areas, depicting the weather and the landscape in a realistic way was much easier than if I had tried to build a landmass from scratch.
When it came time to take what was in my head and to put it down on paper, I made a rough pencil sketch. I found a fabulous graphic artist named Taran Lopez on Fiverr to take my chicken scratch and turn it into the art you see here:
What are some of your favorite fantasy landscapes? Is the map in a fantasy novel something you pay a lot of attention to, or do you just turn the page to get to the story?
If you are at all intrigued by my little kingdom, please take a moment to hop over to Hexborn’s page on Kindle Scout, take a look at the blurb and excerpt, and nominate Hexborn for publication. If it is chosen, you’ll receive a free copy and my undying gratitude. Many thanks to you and my host, and happy reading!
A.M. Manay is an award-winning fantasy author in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is also a former inner-city chemistry teacher, a wife and mother in a multi-racial family, a lover of comic book movies, a Lupus warrior, a Clerk of Session, and a 9Round enthusiast. She loves to write page-turning stories with complex, diverse characters who inhabit interesting worlds.
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Anyone who leaves a comment every day of A. M. Manay’s blog tour will go into a drawing for an autographed paperback of her YA FANTASY NOVEL: “HEXBORN.”
Good luck, A. M. Manay, and thanks, RRBC! -Guy