Friday, March 2, 2018

Mapping it Out

(reposted from May 2016)
I love traveling. The next best thing is a good book about the history of a place. When it comes to plotting out a story, there's nothing so magic for me as a map.  Hmmm...Traveling in search of a map might be the perfect combination!

Show me a map of a town in 1854, 
and I'll tell you who is walking those roads.

I can't think of any stories that I've created which haven't included the search for an accurate map. It's not easy. As any historical writer will tell you, it really does make a difference to know how long that character needs to go from point A to point B. No one else may ever know, but the author knows...

Insane Asylum, 1830s Glasgow
(when I searched for this map, a photo of my face came up. "Insane Asylum Glasgow" gets you Debra E, Marvin.  I'm so touched!)
Old maps can be quite beautiful. I have an excellent copy of a large map of Glasgow 1820--thanks to a museum worker who 'walked the extra mile' to find it, and send me a sample. KaChing. I paid for it. The pdf came on a disk, went to the printers here, and now it's framed and hanging in my office. The drawing and coloring, and the mapmaker's use of notes and attempts to show elevations is just incredible. But a map can be as simple as a hand-drawn sketch of the American army's encampment on a field overlooking Sackett's Harbor, NY during the War of 1812 and I'm smitten!

Fictional Site of Fictional Austen Academy for Girls in Non-fictional Austin,
because we needed a point of reference for AUSTEN IN AUSTIN.

I supplement my map obsession with the great and powerful Google Earth.  Where else can I go to street view and admire a three-hundred year old library in Europe, (well...without actually flying there myself). Or...I can just keep digging for a treasure like the one I recently found tucked inside  a women's published thesis on the history of Tryon Palace, NC.  I personally hunted New Bern, NC high and low for a map, and ended up discovering the perfect example online, in my pjs, because someone else had the ability to access so many more resources. All for me, right?

I know I'm not the only map lover. Many authors draw maps, including house plans, so we can see what our characters are readers can see it too.

an old map of Edinburgh
Are you a map fan, too? 
There's nothing like them to make me long for a road trip, or a new story line!

And do even get me started on DIORAMAS!

MAP-LOVER Debra E. Marvin Debra E. Marvin tries not to run too far from real life but the imagination born out of being an only child has a powerful draw. Besides, the voices in her head tend to agree with all the sensible things she says. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, and serves on the board of Bridges Ministry in Seneca Falls, NY. She is published with WhiteFire Publishing, Forget Me Not Romances, Journey Fiction, and Barbour Publishing...and a judge for the Grace Awards for many years. Debra works as a program assistant at Cornell University, and enjoys her family and grandchildren, obsessively buying fabric, watching British programming and traveling with her childhood friends

Follow her on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook for travels with Granny. Too bad you missed the Scotland and Ireland trip!


  1. It's Friday. The start of the Memorial Day weekend, and I hope you enjoy some family time and take a moment to remember the sacrifices that gave us the opportunities we have.

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  3. Oooh, I'm with you! I love historic maps. And, yes, I need maps to keep my story straight.

    And Google Maps, with "street view," is SO helpful when I'm writing. I can "walk" a street anywhere in the world.


  4. Yep, just call me map girl. Thanks, Deb. :)

  5. Thanks DeAnna and Anita! Google maps only adds to my addiction!


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