New Book = New Map

Good day, citizen! As we all know, the Lovatine archipelago extends far beyond our great city and its rugged coastline, and the waters beyond can be treacherous. With the aid of volunteer submissions and the City of Lovat and the Camalote Group’s funding, the Waite Corp. is pleased to distribute a new nautical advisory chart detailing the Inner Passages of our coastal waterways. Be advised the data on this chart is advisory only. Extreme caution is urged—soundings in fathoms.


I promised all you Gleam Upon the Waves readers I’d have a new map available for your perusal. With the release of this handy chart, I’m also pleased to finally open up a new reader resource dedicated to the Cartography of the Known Territories with two maps are available today and more planned for the future.

One of my goals with these maps have been to do something different each time. The first map which I released around the launch of Old Broken Road, was modeled after those glossy roadside brochure-maps you’d find in truck stops, at service stations, or in those brochure racks located in the lobbies of cheap hotels. This latest creation follows along with Gleam’s seagoing roots, and was based on a heavily modified NOAA nautical chart complete with soundings, elevation contours, and the locations of various points of potential danger. While a map isn’t necessary to enjoy any of my books, you know I always embrace any opportunity to expand the world of the Bell Forging Cycle and I think cartography is a fantastic tool to do just that.

So what do you think of this latest chart? Let me know in the comments below.

The Treasure Island Map Doesn’t Skimp on the Details

Treasure Island’s Map Doesn’t Skimp on the Details

A big reason I put together my brush sets was to help my fellow authors create authentic maps to enhance a reader’s experience. (I wrote a whole post about it.) The design of a book, from chapter headers to the breaks between scenes, can all be utilized in ways to add details to a world. The map is no different.

Understanding details matter and when they’re ignored, they can often have the opposite effect. Usually, it’s helpful to see this in practice and I want to do that today. Take Robert Louis Stevenson’s map for his classic Treasure Island; it’s a masterclass in getting the details right. Check it out below, click to view it larger.

Stevenson's map of Treasure Island
Stevenson’s map of Treasure Island

If you’re writing a book on piracy, creating a nautical chart that fits its era is clearly the correct visual direction. But Stevenson goes much further pushing past style and into a faux-authenticity that enlivens the imagination. It does this by paying close attention to its details. Note the sounding markers scattered around the coast or the anchorage label in the North Inlet. Those are important for sailors, yes, but for the story? Not so much. He even goes as far as marking rocks along the shores (the little cross symbols along the coasts) and labeling the direction of the current (the arrow floating off the eastern side.) Style can get you halfway there—but details are what brings this sort of ephemera alive.

Details of Robert Louis Stevenson’s map of Treasure Island

The map does more than just clarify information; it becomes an extension of the world. It creates its place within the context of the story. The details establish its purpose within the fiction. This chart could be real which is why it’s so brilliant. One can look at this map and forget that Treasure Island isn’t an actual island. You can easily imagine that this map came from Captain Flint himself with his small details pointing out strong tides, strange landmarks, springs, swamps, and other bits and pieces. You can picture it folded away in its chest, waiting for Jim Hawkins to come along. You can visualize it in use.

This should be what we strive for with our fantasy cartography. It’s what I aim to empower. We shouldn’t settle with just the informative, we should strive for the authentic—one that enhances the overall experience and delights our readers. The details matter and they’re a treasure that’s worth it.

Robert Newton is still the best Long John Silver


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