compass roseOne day I should scan in the rough map I’ve drawn of Aeritan. I drew it in 2005 when I was seriously deep into actual revisions of Gordath Wood, and was having trouble keeping things straight. Up in the northwest corner of the map, there’s Balancing Rock and North Salem, NY. There’s the house that exists on (the fictional) Daw Road in North Salem and simultaneously in Gordath Wood on the border of Red Gold Bridge.

From there flows the Aeritan River, and the lands arrayed out from it. There are the Temia foothills (but the foothills to what mountains?) and the many lands of Shay and Salt, Camrin and Favor. Wessen, where Lady Sarita is from.

But the map is unfinished, barely roughed out. What is on the edges of Aeritan? Besides Brythern, what are the other countries? The oceans? The people? Does this world have the same variety in people and cultures as ours does? I give tantalizing hints only, because I don’t know.

It’s not good for an author not to know. We should always know more than our readers, even if we don’t tell you everything. (Research and worldbuilding should be invisible.)  Especially if we don’t tell you everything.

So with the third book, my lack of knowledge about Aeritan is starting to wear on me. The rough map isn’t a good enough guide to the world in my head.

I need a new map so I can hint at stories that I know but that aren’t part of this story. I need to give the reader a sense that the world goes on when the book is closed. The best modern example I can give of that is Charles Coleman Finlay‘s Democracy of Trolls, which first appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and later was expanded into a novel. In the novella, there’s one scene that expands the simple story into a small part of a greater whole. I had such a feeling of depth, as if I was peering through a keyhole at a huge tapestry, with a sense of a greater world behind the door.

I knew at once that Finlay knew everything he needed to about his world, and chose to tell us only this story, at this time.

That’s what I want. There are a thousand tales of Aeritan waiting to be told. I just need a map of the world so I can get to them.


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