Welcome to my stop on the House Of Electric blog tour hosted by Titan Books. I have an very interesting guest post, provided by William Sutton, all to do with crafting the perfect map to go along with a novel. I love this guest post as it is hugely insightful and it is concerning a subject I have a lot of appreciation for. I am fascinated by the maps that are featured in history/fantasy novels, I spend a lot of time memorising them, hoping for it to enhance the story. Thank you for stopping by and don’t forget to check out all the other amazing blogs taking part in the tour. First a few details about William and his latest release and then onto the guest post!
About William Sutton
William Sutton comes from Dunblane, Scotland. He has written for The Times and the Fortean Times, acted in the longest play in the world, and played cricket for Brazil. His first novel is a Victorian mystery of a gleaming metropolis mired in corruption.
He writes for international magazines about language, music and futurology. His plays have been produced on radio and in London fringe theatres. He has performed at events from the Edinburgh Festival to High Down Prison, often with a ukulele. He teaches Latin and plays accordion with chansonnier Philip Jeays. Bio taken from William’s personal website: www.william-sutton.co.uk/about-the-author/
Book Synopsis for Lawless and the House Of Electricity
In London’s East End, a corpse tumbles from a ship. Tangled in tarpaulin, it has lain forgotten for years. A scrap of paper in its pocket reads ‘Roxbury’.
The shadows of European machinations loom over the capital. For Sergeant Campbell Lawless, fears become reality as a series of explosions tear across the country. Home Office anxieties lead Lawless to Roxbury House, where the Earl of Roxbury, the country’s foremost weapons manufacturer, resides with a cavalcade of innovative scientists and researchers. Lawless places his best agent, ex-street urchin Molly, in the Earl’s home as he races to find those behind the attacks before the tinderbox of Europe is ignited.
Mapping A Mystery (Guest Post)
Electric Blog Tour Day 2
Lawless & the House of Electricity by William Sutton, third in his series of Lawless mysteries exploring the darker sides of Victorian London, is published by Titan Books. The map images were hand-drawn by the author, designed and crunched by Rebecca Lea Williams.
Mapping a Mystery: Every good book needs a map
“We polled our reading group. They unanimously demand maps.” So said a CrimeFest punter, putting a question to my panel Straitlaced Victorians: A Criminal Goldmine.
“Don’t you agree?” he said. “Ya gotta have a map. For a historical novel, as much as for a fantasy novel, ya gotta have a map.”
“What does the audience think?” asked my friend on the panel Alis Hawkins. “Show of hands?”
More than half the hands went up. Not unanimous, but then we’re not an American reading group.
Norton Juster’s map for The Phantom Tolbooth: wonderful
Mapping A Mystery
“I love a book with a map.” Neil Gaiman
When my first novel was re-published by Titan Books in 2015, it gave me a chance to redress a fault. For the 2013 edition, I asked publisher AngryRobot for a map. They hired a designer. He did a solid job. I never got to speak to him. But when I looked at it again, it lacked character: there was nothing about it that felt like my book.
For the new edition, I decided, I must do it myself. The only problem was I’m no designer. In fact, let me show you a couple of posters I’ve designed in the past:
I can draw a bit; I can do stuff on computer a bit. But I’ve no eye for shape, for making the visuals beautiful to the eye. I put in too much info, I overdo it. How could I avoid bollocksing it up? Then I spotted these. Beautiful maps, packed with detail and information, gorgeously readable; but most of all, full of character.
Where did I spot them? On my friend’s instagram. I knew she was an artist. I knew she was a designer. I didn’t know she was a specialist in maps, hired to present detail by companies and boroughs around the capital. Who could be better to help me with my London maps of the 1860s?
Sketches & Scrapbooks
Rebecca encouraged me to collect photos and drawings connected to the book.
A lovely font on Essie Fox’s website, the Virtual Victorian. (Her daughter is a designer.)
Detail from London map 1862, available at Museum of London
Frontispiece of Old and New London by Walter Thornberry
I copied them, sometimes tracing, sometimes freehand, then scanning them. (I bollocksed up these maps by drawing on tracing paper, which scans poorly.) She crunched them into shape, dropped them on to my template, Skyped me and discussed where/how big/how labelled.
My sketches above, followed by the pictures I cribbed them from.
Here I’m showing Rebecca where I want the images to go:
A Way into the Story
“I’ll only read a book if it’s got a map.” My Niece
A map on the flyleaf is a mysterious promise, entices us into a new world. Ever since reading The Phantom Tolbooth and The Minnipins and The House at Pooh Corner, I’ve loved finding a map inside the cover.
Under Rebecca’s guidance, I set to work map-making for the second edition of Devil of Euston Square. I sketched, I drew, I traced, I copied. We’ve conjured up the sewers, the brothels of Leicester Square, and – for this third book – three different maps, depicting London, Portsmouth Harbour and Roxbury House itself. We hope they draw you in.
Thank you for stopping by to check out today’s stop on the House Of Electric blog tour hosted by Titan Books. I hoped you all enjoyed learning about what goes into formulating a map for a novel. I am excited to get into this series, I have all three instalments on my bookshelf waiting to go, and I will be putting out my reviews very soon. Thank you to everyone for their support and until next time, Happy Reading!