HOW I STARTED
The map actually started with a homegrown effort of my own. Using an online software/app called Inkarnate, before I wrote even one word of the story, I made individual maps of each of the six dominions in Nova. I have to say, I had a lot of fun doing this. The app helped spark my imagination for certain settings and things that were unique to each dominion. In addition, once I started writing, I could easily mention aspects of the world in passing–many of which will become a bigger deal later in the series. But at the very least, it made my world that much more realistic. Next time I create a world from scratch, I will definitely be doing maps again.
NEEDING A PROFESSIONAL
Once it came time to put the book in print, my publisher loved the fact that I had maps. However, there were two fairly big issues. First…my maps were in color and way too detailed for the size of map that can fit in a book (even laid out over 2 pages). Second, they didn’t want to take up so many pages with six maps, and preferred to see the broader map–one map showing all six dominions together.
Enter Kellerica Maps – a professional graphic artist who specializes in fantasy maps. My editor helped me find Kell, and let me tell you the process was super interesting. I sent him my own maps for reference, then we got started. We formed the dominions from the outside in, starting with the shapes of the borders and placements in relation to each other, then adding things like islands and isthmuses and the water breaks around them. Then came major landforms–rivers, lakes, mountains. Then we added smaller details like cities. Last were all the final details and the labels.
Probably hardest for me was learning how many ways my very amateur attempt at maps had broken the laws of physics or wouldn’t work for the layout in a book. Some laws stayed broken (like my floating mountain dominion of Wildernyss–there’s a reason for it and it’s a magical one). Some issues meant I had to make adjustments both on my maps and in the text of the book. For example, I had an issue with the flow of rivers through mountains, or where I could place the dominions in relation to each other and still fit on the page.
In the end, the final map turned out so gorgeous. A huge thank you to Kell who was so terrific to work with and did a fantastic job! If you’re interested in more details about each of the dominions, check out these facts.