Booking Through Thursday: Illustrious March 11, 2010
Filed under: WordPress — –Deb @ 1:07 am
How do you feel about illustrations in your books? Graphs? Photos? Sketches?
This is a pretty easy question for anyone that grew up reading a lot of fantasy literature. There’s almost one thing that every fantasy epic needs – and that’s a map. Maybe several maps. The more maps the better, in fact. Because, let's face it, I love me a good map.
More than a description, a fantasy map gives the author’s world a sense of “reality” in readers’ mind (well, this reader’s mind). It’s much easier to imagine a journey or a political relationship if you can picture the “physical” relationship involved. I think it really helps with helping to suspend your disbelief. The granddaddy of them all, of course, is Middle Earth from Tolkien.
But all maps don’t have to be of artistic quality. I love this one of Ursula K LeGuin’s Earthsea. Because unlike Tolkien’s grand map that clearly conveys THIS IS AN EPIC, LeGuin’s almost-hand-drawn looking map is much more personal and approachable – like the story she tells.
As for other books, I don’t think most books need illustrations or maps unless the locale is: a) foreign and b) important to the story.
For example, I read “The Monster of Florence” a non-fiction book about the hunt for a serial killer in the Tuscan countryside. I’ve never been to Florence (much to the Beloved’s dismay) and I found the included area maps helped me understand what was going on much better than if they were absent. I also read the novel “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” which takes place in Stockholm and an isolated town several hours north of there. No map needed for that level of detail.
I also like a photo of the author somewhere – either on the back, or flap, or back pages. For some reason, that helps me connect with them better – get a sense of who they are – but not the ones where the author is trying to look poignantly away from the photographer as if they’re thinking great thoughts. Just smile for the camera, okay?!?!