Fan Girl Friday – Maps Ahoy with Louise Reynolds

LReynolds1012_0059Maybe it was the Hundred Acre Wood in Winnie-The-Pooh. Or perhaps the old auto club strip maps my mother thrust at us on the never-ending annual childhood road trips between Sydney and Melbourne. All I know is that I love maps.

There’s an air of expectancy when I open a book and see a map in the front. Either I need to know the lay of the land as in a murder mystery like Minette Walters’ The Ice House. Or it’s an invitation to enter an imaginary place created by an author as in William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County.

English County Map 1614

I started to collect maps in my late twenties when I bought a pair of these original maps of English counties dated 1614. I love their beautiful jewel colours, latin names and fancy lettering. They would once have been part of a large and expensive portfolio belonging to a gentleman’s library. Luckily they’re now mine.

1765 Strip Map

Later I acquired this original Georgian Strip map of 1765 (predecessor of the auto club strip maps of my youth) which came from The Gentleman’s Magazine. Designed to guide the traveller from London to Lands End by the great turnpike roads of the era, this is my favourite map. The delicate pastel coloured strips differentiate the counties giving the map an attractive graphic quality. But it’s the imaginary journey I take alongside that gentleman that makes my heart race. We set off from ‘Hide Park Gate’ and pass through the little villages of ‘Chelsey’ and Hammersmith. And in my imagination I’m not sitting inside, all corseted up. I’m up top beside the driver. The names of large houses and directions like ‘to the moor’, ‘the college’ and ‘to the mill’ make this an intriguing map. What college? And which mill?

To OS Mapssay that HM Government’s Ordnance survey maps of England have given me hours of pleasure probably sounds very dull. But in my 30’s I caught the rambling bug and the romance of English long distance footpaths captured me. I acquired piles of OS maps to trek these paths. Later I used those same maps to identify, if I could, those intriguing mills and colleges from the 1765 map. They’ve also been invaluable for family history, helping to locate family farms and mining leases.

c. Alan Proctor & Dennis Brierley 1982My map fetish extends to collecting quirky handwritten walking guides like A Wiltshire Way. I love to think of some geeky rambler standing in the freezing cold, blowing on frozen fingers to warm them enough to draw the pictures. I love the little cotton floss trees, the careful script. I love that he has stopped to draw a stile or church and include them on the map in the manner of a medieval monk decorating a manuscript. It’s about time and care. This man is more than a walker. He’s a creator. And I wonder whether that gate, noted as ‘always locked’ in 1982, has ever been unlocked?

Her Italian Aristocrat cover

One of the things most complimented in Her Italian Aristocrat is the portrayal of an Italian hill town setting. Whilst I gripped my wrist and resisted the urge to draw a map, I did see that town so vividly in my mind’s eye. My hero and heroine spend a fair bit of time on the streets of Montefigore and I hope, map or not, that I’ve managed to convey that sense of place.

You can visit Louise on her website, blog or Facebook.  And hey, why don’t you buy her book?  You can get it from iTunes, Amazon, Kobo, Google and Destiny.


31 comments on “Fan Girl Friday – Maps Ahoy with Louise Reynolds

  1. Love this post, Louise. I’m a map-lover too and always have some kind of a map for every one of my books. I really love your Georgian strip map and that hand-drawn one of Cerne Abbas.

  2. Wow, what an amazing collection! I love old maps and the sense of history they have. I bought my father an amazing maritime map of our old home town which was so beautiful it still catches my eye. The blue of the water on the map is just the same as it is in reality on a sunny day.

  3. they are gorgeous, Lou! I love old maps – so full of history and stories. We have an old-style framed map of Calderdale, Yorkshire on our living room wall, and it’s got little drawings and 3D-style mountains and rivers (even has a public hanging in there, too!) And when I went to the US, I got a fabulous 3D-style map of the world. It’s packed with tiny cartoony drawings and I always end up finding something new on it.

  4. Hi, Paula. I’m jealous. You know I am going to have to get myself a map with a public hanging now 🙂 Thanks for having on your gorgeous blog. I really enjoyed putting my thoughts about maps into words.

  5. I collect maps of places I’ve been. They are of the throw away kind tourists use but they have special memories attached to them. A favorite map is the one provided on the ‘Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour of Milan.’ Another favorite is The Jane Austen Walking Tour Of Southampton. Oh, and also there’s… 🙂

  6. Hi, Dora.
    I can understand wanting to prolong the pleasure of places visited by keeping tourist maps. You can almost feel you’re back in, say, Milan. Especially if there’s a spilt drop of salsa verde on it 🙂

  7. I must confess to being the biggest nerd. I love maps, I use them every day in my work, but I’ve never really thought about older style maps. I love the pictures of your maps in this post and am keen to read more! ❤

  8. Thanks so much for sharing your love of maps with us, Louise. They are fascinating. You’ve given me another layer to add to my stories. I always love a sense of where my story is set, and how they impact my characters, but I also love intriguing things like houses, so might have to ‘play’ with that more 🙂

  9. Hi, Dana, it seems lots of people love maps. There’s such a sense of worlds to be discovered, whether it’s across and ocean or just the other side of a country lane. Thanks for dropping in 🙂

  10. Hi, Lia. I like to draw a map of the location of my stories and it’s one of the fun things to do alongside timelines etc. Never know when an idea can pop up and the manual process of drawing things often helps me.

  11. Hi Louise
    What an interesting collection you have!
    As a kid I used to love collecting stamps – mainly because I loved imagining all the wonderful foreign places the stamps originated from. I imagine collecting maps would be much the same, or even better.
    Thanks for sharing your hobby with us.

  12. Hi, Michelle. Yes! So true. And some of those stamps were so gorgeous. Far more than our tame Aussie ones (at least as they were in my childhood). I remember the Hungarian ones very well.

  13. Hi Louise,
    What a wonderful hobby. I’ve always loved maps and I also used to read the school Atlas just for fun. Before I started writing, I was always doing some kind of craft. For many years I used to cross stitch. Interesting that I was looking for a map of the world chart to cross stitch for my boys but couldn’t find one—this was BI (Before Internet). I wrote to a cross stitching magazine and ended up with several charts for all sorts of maps of the world (and I also gained about ten pen pals!). The chart that I chose was an Olde Worlde Map and it’s upstairs in the family room. Remind me to show you when you come over.

    Thanks for having Louise as your guest, Paula. I’ve definitely learnt something new!!

  14. Thanks, Serena. I’d love to see that cross stitch map. And there’s something I didn’t know about you either, lol. I haven’t the patience (nor the talent) for embroidery so I admire people who can do it. Thanks for visiting 🙂

  15. What a lovely hobby to have! My husband is a surveyor so we are surrounded by maps and although I don’t collect them, I do get excited by maps in books. I adore a book with a map. I love to work out where the story is placed and follow adventures around the map. I’ve never seen a strip map before – so intriguing!
    I’ve really enjoyed this article. Thanks Louise.

  16. Hi, Janis. Even if there’s no actual map in the book, the mention of a map in a story gets me in. “Treasure Island” was a great favourite as a child (and even now – I’m a sucker of Robert Louis Stevenson :-)).

  17. Reblogged this on Lou Writes and commented:
    I’m preparing to head off on holidays and have my head in a huge map of outback Australia which reminds me of this piece I wrote some time ago for the lovely Paula Roe’s blog, about my love of maps!

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