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I’ve always loved maps.

Before Google and Mapquest and TomTom and Garmin, physical maps were a part of everyday life. They were more than just roll-up monstrosities hanging on classroom walls, antiques in museums, and decorative office or restaurant art.  

Back in the day, my ten-year-old self would unfold the paper travel map or open the road atlas in the back seat of the car during our family road trips. I’d watch for a sign indicating what town we were passing and then use my finger and the map key to calculate how far we were from our destination. I’d trace the distance we’d traveled and then the remaining journey, wondering about the towns we would pass through—bigger printed names meant more people and buildings.

I also remember the first time I saw a map in a book. It was Thror’s Map in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.  

Clip of Thror’s Map in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.
The image above is from my old paperback copy of The Hobbit. Click to view the full map on the Tolkien Gateway.

The map was so cool–but tantalizingly uninformative. I couldn’t read the runes, and—aside from the Lonely Mountain, two rivers, and the Desolation of Smaug—the arrows all pointed to places and perils that lay off the map—Long Lake, Mirkwood’s spiders, Dale and the mysterious Withered Heath “whence came the Great Worms.” But the promise of the map pulled me into the story and brought me along on the adventure of discovering Tolkien’s amazing world.

After that, I frequently selected fantasy books because they had maps: C.S. Lewis’s Narnia, Katherine Kurtz’s Gwynedd, Anne McCaffrey’s Pern, T.A. Barron’s Fincayra, Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom, and the Four Lands of Terry Brooks all came to life through masterful storytelling supported by intriguing maps.

My own novel, Dragon’s Truth (due out from Vinspire Publishing in March), will include a map. I was lucky enough to work with a very talented designer—Kara DeMaio at theblueprintstudio.com—to translate my vision and sketches into a truly fantastic map that will complement the text and help immerse my readers in Rhyan’s adventure.

Here’s a little peek at the map—subscribe to my News and Views page and follow me on Twitter – @talelady, Instagram – leannepan_author, and Facebook for information about upcoming give-a-aways that will include the map and Dragon’s Truth swag.