by Christyne Butler
I love maps.
Maybe it’s because I spent many Sunday afternoons growing up with Dad behind the wheel, me and my sister curled up in the backseat with pillows and books while Mom road shotgun, usually with a map spread out across her lap.
“Let take this road and see where we end up.”
My mom, as navigator, would point to a back road, be it in Pennsylvania, Turkey or New Hampshire and my dad would dutifully make the turn. We would ride along, admiring the homes, finding neat places to stop (Mom never met an antique store she didn’t like) and soon the cries of “we’re hungry” from the back seat meant finding a local place to eat. It didn’t matter where we were heading or where we ended up because the map, and Mom, always got us home again.
One of the neatest thing to me about being an author is not only creating a happily ever after for two people who need it most, but also creating the world in which they live. When using a real location, be it a big city or a small town I always keep a map close by so I know the streets, neighborhoods and businesses in which my characters will live out their story. When I started by “Welcome to Destiny” series I already had an idea in my head of what my fictional Wyoming town would look like and in order to make sure I kept location of character’s homes and local businesses straight I created a map (you can click on the picture above to see it larger if you like).
A map I am always adding to as my town grows. It’s so much fun to see my fictional world expand as the number of books set in this town grows too.
When I was asked to participate the first time in the “Montana Mavericks” continuity I was very happy to find a map, created by RaeAnne Thayne, for the fictional town of Thunder Canyon, Montana. Since continuities are a series of six books written by six different authors and with the “Montana Mavericks” having been around for years with so many wonderful books, it’s important for all of us authors to know where the character’s home and local businesses have been located over the years.
In the 2012 “Montana Mavericks – Back in the Saddle” continuity books that are out from July to December, we are meeting some members of a new family, The Traubs, who come from brand new town, Rust Creek Falls, Montana. And next year there will be six new stories in the “Montana Mavericks” continuity saga all set in that same small town.
A town that we authors didn’t really know much about.
“Rust Creek Falls — is a rural Montana town nearly 300 miles from Thunder Canyon; it is what Thunder Canyon used to be before the ski resort and oil exploration. The town is named for its waterfall and the river that runs through it. Rust Creek Falls is inhabited by ranchers and mill workers as RCF Lumber Mill is the major employer in the town.”
That’s the official description of the town. Hmmm, not much to go on but for six authors it was a chance to get creative. We were also told there of a few of the local businesses, the Ace in the Hole Bar, Crawford’s General Store and Strickland’s Boarding House in town, but we knew we needed more than that to work with.
We discussed the layout of the town and the terrific Christine Rimmer came up with an original map of street names and the location of the Rust Creek that runs through the center of town (spoiler — that creek is going to be very important in the books!)
When she showed us her creation I asked if she minded if I took her sketch and played with it (thanks to PowerPoint), adding the businesses and homes in locations around town that the six of us decided (and are still deciding) that Rust Creek Falls needs to make it a real town.
Here’s the final result.
Well, sort of final as we are still adding and moving things around but I think Rust Creek Falls is going to be a pretty special place to live and visit for the readers of the “Montana Mavericks” series!
So how about you all? Do you still use the trusty paper maps or are you are a GPS convert?
Personally, I like the GPS when I’m traveling alone (hard to read a map and drive at the same time!) but I still like to view the world via a map every once in a while (be it the real world or one of my creation) to see what might be around the next bend in the road!