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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Blog Tour- AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir A Post about the Maps!

I am so excited to be hosting a spot on AN EMBER IN THE ASHES Blog Tour! I freaking loved this book! It's easily my one of my favorite of 2015 so far! If you want to see my review go HERE. I have a post about the maps in the books and I am geeking out! I LOVE maps in books!

Haven't heard of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES? Check it out!

Author: Sabaa Tahir
Pub. Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 464
Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

Check out the book trailer!

Now on to the post!

 I’ve loved maps since I was a kid. Probably because, growing up in the Mojave desert, I sometimes felt like there was nothing beyond the sand and mountains that surrounded me. Looking at maps reminded me that there was, in fact, a whole world out there. To this day, my most prized non-fiction tome is the National Geographic Atlas in my study.

Fantasy maps are my favorite kind of map. A good fantasy map helps the reader orient herself in whatever new world she is experiencing. It contains all the relevant locations—cities, villages, borders, islands, ports. The best maps even offer tantalizing hints about where the author might take you in future books.

One of the first things I did when I began writing EMBER in 2007 was draw a couple of (hideous) maps. One was of the Empire and another was of Blackcliff, the military school where EMBER’s action takes place.

These maps sufficed until 2012, when, between EMBER drafts, I decided I needed maps that I wouldn’t be humiliated to show to beta readers. With the help of a web site called the Cartographer’s Guild, I created a couple of maps with Photoshop. They are basically the mapmaker’s equivalent of stick figures—but better than what I had before.

Fast forward to the summer of 2014: My editor informed me that not only would EMBER be getting maps of Blackcliff and the Empire, but that those maps would be created by Jonathan Roberts, who created the maps for Game of Thrones’ The Land of Ice and Fire.

Jon began by creating rough sketches based off of my maps, fixing some embarrassing geographic errors I’d made. Rivers that should have split when running into the sea were shifted. A conifer forest was transformed into a more geographically appropriate deciduous forest. I gave Jon details about the type of desert I intended for both the Great Wastes and the Tribal Desert, as well as the size and architectural style of each of the cities in the world of Ember. I sent a few images to him, both of Serra and of Raider’s Roost, which is based on a similar rock formation near my hometown.

At the same time, Jon took my, er, minimalist Blackcliff map and created something beautiful: the black slash that represented Blackcliff’s front gate became an imposing entry gate and courtyard; the simple lines that marked watchtowers became fortified, Romanesque towers. Jon also added outbuildings within the school and extensive neighborhood structures for the area beyond Blackcliff’s walls.

Over the course of a few weeks, EMBER’s maps went from my cave-man-esque design, to spare and beautiful sketches, to detailed line art, to the colored and shaded magnificence that you can see on EMBER’s web site or, as the black and white endpapers in Ember’s hardcover edition.  

Watching the evolution of the maps was one of the most fascinating and fun parts of working on EMBER. Jon’s detailed, gorgeous maps somehow managed to capture what I saw in my head with far more clarity than anything I’d have ever come up with.

If you’d like to learn more about Jon—please check out his web site, which is packed full of excellent tutorials: http://www.fantasticmaps.com/

If you’d like some step-by-step instructions on how to create your own fantasy map on photoshop, try the Cartographers Guild at www.cartographersguild.com.

About Sabaa:
Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

Check out the This Week's Schedule!

5/11 - Read.Breathe.Relax. – interview
5/12 - Mundie Moms – guest post
5/13 – Two Chicks on Books – guest post (HERE)
5/14 - The Children's Book Review – interview
5/15 – Bookhounds - Top 5: Things I HAVE to Do Before I Die

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