Have you ever wondered where historical (or fantastical, for that matter) events in a novel took place? Usually, you don’t have to wonder too much, because the author or publisher places a convenient map or maps in a fantasy or historical fiction novel. If you have read prior books of the Morrigan’s Brood Series, you have come to appreciate, based on many of the reviews I (Christopher) have read, the maps showing where events in our stories took place. Morrigan’s Brood: Dark Alliance will be no different. In fact, I wanted to give our friends and fans a sneak peak at how we come up with our maps, and to even show a preliminary map from our third book. Even though this is a Dark Fantasy / Historical Fiction / Fantasy Adventure novel, we strive for accuracy in our depiction of the times when and locations where our stories take place.
Before we write a book, Heather (mostly) and I research the times and locations where we intend to write our story. With Morrigan’s Brood: Dark Alliance, we chose 801 CE, since that followed the crowning of Charles I (aka Charlemagne, or Charles the Great) by Pope Leo III as the first Holy Roman Emperor, and thus began the Holy Roman Empire (which, as Heather and I joke, was neither Roman nor holy). Much of Western Europe was part of the empire in 801, including much of the modern countries of France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, and even a small part of Spain.
Heather the Librarian buys non-fiction books looking at different aspects of the history of the early ninth century, including the life and times of the people, trading and commerce, battles and the military, Charles’ family, relations with the Papacy, and relations with other nations and historic figures (i.e. Empress Irene). Through reading these texts, Heather is able to get a good idea of the major towns of the area, abbeys and cathedrals, trade routes, roads, ports, and other location elements that we can use in the story. I back up her research with maps and other information I find online. The challenge has been trying to depict locations circa 801 CE and not an earlier period, such as 770 CE, or a later period, such as 834 CE (both examples were common dates on maps I found online).
When writing the book, Heather identifies the location for a scene or chapter in parentheses. When I performed the layout, I formatted the location names using a style from previous books and removed the parentheses. I then copied all of the names we actually used as locations into a separate document so I could match those ancient locations up with modern locations. I used on-line sources, such as Google Maps, to come up with a list of ancient country names, modern city names, modern country names, links to maps, and geo-codes for all of the ancient cities. I then created a preliminary composite map containing all of those locations in Google Maps, which I will share below.
Once Heather vets my locations map (by double-checking my historical facts) and finishes her first read, I will submit the preliminary map and the locations map to Khanada Taylor for her to design the interior map. Once finished, the map will look something like this:
I hope you enjoyed this update concerning our mapping efforts. There will be more information to come, and don’t be surprised to find this information in Goodreads and Shelfari in the near future.