Tag Archives: maps

Howard Coates created stunning maps for The Fey Man

Artist Howard Coates on The Fey Man Maps

I recently unveiled the gorgeous new maps for The Fey Man, drawn by artist Howard Coates. Here a few words from the man himself about the process of creating those maps.

I grew up loving fantasy worlds such as Discworld and The Lord of the Rings. Whilst reading I would often pore over the maps they had created, firmly believing that having a decent overworld to refer to enriched the text no end. In more recent times I have been taken by the fantasy worlds in video games such as Skyrim and Dragon Age, where the interactive maps are as much functional as they are visually arresting. I drew upon these varied past experiences as guidance and sometimes confirmation of the success of my ideas.

Howard and I both wanted to take all the best aspects of the maps we loved to create something special for The Fey Man. Howard stayed faithful to my original maps but the care he took over every detail was incredible.

The process was an iterative one, with lots of feedback from James along the way. I was very committed to getting all the details right, even down to the shapes of rocks and types of trees. Whenever I work with a fellow creative I want to make them feel as involved as possible as it is their creation after all!

The technical aspects of the job were fairly basic, I wanted it to have a homemade look so relied on Photoshop only for compiling and tweaking the sketches. Every line was hand rendered and I feel that captures the charm of the world somewhat. I reflected upon aspects of the story; Katharine has maps that are very precious to her and I wanted to make these feel like they might be the sort of maps she would want to possess. I also tried to place a few story elements within the landscape; I hope the inclusions will be spotted and appreciated by people who have read the book. My mantra was ‘the more you look, the more you see’!

This was my favourite thing about these maps. I created the world, and yet I can spend ages poring over Howard’s work and picking out details I hadn’t seen before. In fact at times I had to nix a detail or two for fear of spoilers! But there are still plenty of surprises to be found in there.

You can reach Howard on Twitter at @HowardDoesArt.

And if you want to read the novel set within these maps, download The Fey Man for free today!

New Maps for The Fey Man

One of the things I love about self-publishing is the control it affords me. I make all the calls (and thus all the mistakes) and there are very few barriers between me and the work. If a reader finds a typo, I can have it fixed by the end of the day. Need to update the back matter? No problem. Want to completely overhaul the inadequate maps I drew myself? Well, that part takes a little longer.

It wasn’t long after The Fey Man was published that I realised my maps weren’t up to scratch. They had a certain rough charm to them, but I’m no artist. So I turned to someone who’s an actual artist, Howard Coates, who created some incredible maps.

A map of Tir for the Fair Folk series

A map of Tir for The Fey Man

Glorious, aren’t they?

Ebook owners can update their copies with the new maps:

Kindle readers should go to Manage Your Content and Devices. Over the next few days, Amazon should be making a “Update Available” button available next to The Fey Man;

iBookstore readers can go to the Purchased tab in iBooks and tap Update next to The Fey Man;

Kobo unfortunately doesn’t offer an update process, but contact me directly and I can provide you with a copy;

Nook readers need to archive their copy of The Fey Man and download it again.

Paperback owners, there’s no update process for you, but you now own a first edition; if we’re all very lucky, they’ll be valuable someday!

Whether you bought an ebook or a paperback, I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you. It’s always easy to pass on a new author and I appreciate everyone who was willing to give The Fey Man a chance. And if you left a review, I’d like to offer an even bigger thank you! Contact me with a link to your review and I’ll send you a special and exclusive token of my appreciation (more on this soon)!

Self-publishing gives me both creative freedoms and freedoms to correct. Even though the text hasn’t changed, I’m thrilled to have these new maps in The Fey Man.

And if you haven’t picked up a copy of The Fey Man? Download your free copy today!

Right, back to the desk. The Unquiet Sword doesn’t write itself.

Still from Elastic's animated map for Game of Thrones

The Best Fantasy Maps

Maps are great. Those little maps in shopping centres, the delightful London Underground map or, of course, maps of a fictional world in a book. I can lose hours looking at them. The relations between places, the names and the history inherent in them, and the human stories behind each pathway, road and town. Time spent poring over a map, even in simple appreciation, is always a pleasure. So I thought I’d compile a little list of the best fantasy maps.

Middle-Earth

Map of Middle-Earth from Tolkien's Lord of the RingsNo list of maps could neglect Middle-Earth. It is, if not the first, and if not the greatest, then certainly the foremost of fantasy maps. Tolkien was a premier world-builder, constructing languages and histories and geographies to an extent few others have even attempted. You could spend hours poring over a map of Middle-Earth. People are probably more familiar with the version in Peter Jackson’s films, but this was the copy originally published in The Lord of the Rings and thus the one we all spent hours peering at. There’s a great care and devotion in this map, and it has evoked a great devotion for the world it depicts.

The Six Duchies

Map of the Six Duchies from Robin Hobb's Fitz booksWhat I love most about this map is that it’s not necessary at all. Hobb did a marvellous job in her Farseer Trilogy of drawing a map in the mind of the reader with words. I never referred to this map out of necessity, which made it something to look at purely for the joy of it. And whilst some called it a lazy map, I quite like how sparse it is. A lack of detail is an open door to the imagination, and this is a map that allows the reader to paint huge vistas onto it.

Westeros

Still from Elastic's animated map for Game of ThronesThe maps of Westeros are a polar opposite to that of the Six Duchies, detailed with a plethora of names and places, some barely mentioned in the narrative, others never mentioned at all. You could spend hours poring over that map, wondering at the distance between Harrenhal and Banefort (Martin apparently likes to be vague with scale). They’re glorious maps, and you have to love a fantasy series that keeps increasing the number of maps in the front matter.

So why have I used an image of the title sequence to the TV show? I know it’s a bit of a cheat, but it wraps up all of the gooey awesome map stuff and perfectly translates it to the screen. The sense of scale, the relationships of places, the spaces for the imagination, the feel of the world itself. It’s all there. It’s a map come to life.

Dune

Map of Frank Herbert's DuneSome readers might point out that Dune is a science fiction novel. But not only is it far more fantasy than science fiction, it’s also a great map, too. I love that it centres on the pole, and dozens of place names scattered everywhere, not because they’re all mentioned in the novel, but because that’s just where they are. It offers hours of amusement, and best of all it’s a window into the world: names like “Shield Wall” and “Imperial Basin” tell you about this world before you even start reading, and the naming patterns of the sietches give insight into the rules and practices Dune’s people.

Marauder’s Map

The Marauder's Map from J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter seriesAs with so many things in the Harry Potter series, the Marauder’s Map is a delightful twist on a fictional staple. It’s simple too: a map that shows you where everyone is. It’s what many a reader has always hoped for (tell me you’ve never read Lord of the Rings and wished someone could tell you where the hell Frodo is). Never mind that it’s a thing of beauty, nor that the incantation to open and close it never fail to elicit a smile. The Marauder’s Map may not be a true fantasy map as we all think of them, but it’s perhaps the most fun.

Four Corners of Civilisation

Map from Patrick Rothfuss' Name of the WindThe map from Patrick Rothfuss’ debut novel, The Name of the Wind gets a slot on this list purely for the illustrative decoration to it. Very often fantasy maps can be functional things, something to tell readers that there’s a city here, a mountain over there, and the Valley of Eternal Doom is to the south. But look at the name of the map, written over a indulgent ribbon, or the illustration of a man in the corner. Maps don’t always have to be functional. They can be artistic too.

Mossflower

Map for Brain Jaques' novel Mossflower
Brian Jacques’ Redwall series are children’s books which is perhaps why the maps are so sparse. They convey the bare minimum of information. All of the locations labelled appear in the book and there is no extraneous information. That said, I was still entranced by this map. Having so little information makes what there is all the more important. What happened at the mountain, where the sword declares the site of Boar’s Battle? What are the flood tunnels for? And, of course, it has a decorative border, and they’re always nice to look at.

Tir

Howard Coates created stunning maps for The Fey ManAlright, I might be biased, but these are some of my favourite fantasy maps purely because they’re of the world I’ve invented for the Fair Folk series. Howard Coates did an incredible job of turning my scrawl into a beautiful fantasy world, and he’s filled it with little details and easter eggs that mean even I enjoy poring over them to see what other secrets they might hold!

You can read more about the maps Howard created, or why not download a free copy of The Fey Man and see them for yourself!