Today in a first for the blog as in conjunction with FantasyBookNerd I have a map reveal for Trudie Skies’ upcoming Gaslamp fantasy series The Cruel Gods. The first book ‘The Thirteenth Hour’ will be released 13th October 2021, and the cover reveal is next Monday and organised by Storytellers on Tour.
I have been excited for this book ever since Trudie started talking about it and sharing snippets about, and it is one of my most anticipated reads for the last part of 2021, so it was an honour to be asked to help out with the reveal. Also, I love maps (as anyone familiar with the blog will have noticed) and this one while unconventional is absolutely beautiful. However, before we get to that below is the summary for the book to whet your appetite (and even better, at the bottom you’ll find the pre-order links, because October isn’t that far away), and also an interview with the cartographer Soraya Corcoran as well as some examples of her other work, and I hope that you will check out her work.
When the saints fail, the sinners step up.
Cruel gods rule the steam-powered city of Chime, demanding worship and tribute from their mortal subjects. Kayl lost her faith in them long ago, and now seeks to protect vulnerable and downtrodden mortals from their gods’ whims. But when Kayl discovers powers that she didn’t know she had—and destroys a mortal’s soul by accident—she becomes Chime’s most wanted.
Quen’s job was to pursue sinners, until the visions started. Haunted by foreboding images of his beloved city’s destruction, Quen hunts soul-sucking creatures made of aether who prey on its citizens—and Kayl is his number one target.
To ensure Chime’s future, Kayl and Quen must discover the truth of Kayl’s divine abilities before the gods take matters into their own hands.
For a city that bows to cruel gods, it’ll take godless heathens to save it.
About Soraya Corcoran:
- Website: https://sorayacorcoran.com/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/sorayacorcoran
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sorayacorcoran/
1) When did you get into maps and what was the first example of this particular art form that drew you in?
While I’ve loved drawing as long as I can remember, I didn’t start drawing maps until a few years ago, 2018 I think, when I wanted to draw a map for the first book I drafted. The first maps I remember were from the Redwall Series by Brian Jacques, as I was a huge fan of all those books! Tolkien’s map of Middle Earth was a big inspiration, no surprise there. The map of Skyrim was phenomenal, I was obsessed.
2) When you are working with an author, how does the process start? How do you determine what they have in their head so that it can be transposed onto the page?
This is a hard question to explain! Every map is a unique process. Some authors come to me with a detailed sketch while others give me a blank canvas. The author might have a theme or an aesthetic of what the overall map should look like, and I just roll with it. It’s common for me to work off lots of references provided by the author too.
3) Now we all know that fantasy books have maps, as does historical fiction etc, but what was the unlikeliest medium that you have drawn a map for?
I’ve done a couple SF-ish maps, though I certainly prefer things in the fantasy realm where I feel most at home.
4) Which kinds of mapistry are your favourite, e.g.fantasy, Norse, Arabic, SF?
It’s hard to pick a favorite because I appreciate all these different flairs! I want to try them all out some day. I’d say my favorite is anything I can get really artistic with in the design, lots of flourishy lines and artwork! I’ve done some celtic-inspired art, some dark gothic styles, rough-edged nautical maps, steampunk. I love it all!
5) Obviously, the landscape has changed and digital has become common, what for you is your favourite medium to produce maps, digital or hand drawn?
I use Photoshop for digital work, because there are some amazing and powerful tools that can speed up certain processes. I can make my own brushes and easily do major edits that would be impossible on paper. It’s a time-saver for sure, but in my heart, I still prefer drawing by hand. When I’m drawing just for me, I’ll almost always do it on paper.
6) What other creative projects do you work on besides maps?
Lately, not much, but I like to draw my own characters to go with the pieces I’ve written.
7) What advice would you have for someone wanting to get into cartography? Any particular resources that you would recommend?
I would say get a basic understanding of geography and what a realistic landscape might look like. An example of a common mistake is rivers that flow towards higher ground or split rather than converge. Look at tons of maps and notice the things you like about them. Find other artists and follow them. Google Earth is a lot of fun to explore and see real areas, and when you find an interesting spot, research it further. Always be practicing.
8) If you could produce a map for any franchise, what would it be, and why?
My favorite read of 2021 was BLACK SUN by Rebecca Roanhorse, and I know there’s already a couple maps in that book, but I would love to try my own take on a Mesoamerican-style map, especially since the world-building and culture in her book are so rich and detailed. I think there’s a lot of illustrative opportunities there.
About the Cruel Gods Map
In the world of The Cruel Gods, there are twelve domains each ruled by their own deity. These domains can be entered via a magical portal within the steam-powered city of Chime. Each domain is designated an hour slot, and the portal cycles through the domains at the turn of the hour. You’ll have only one hour to make your crossing. Miss your crossing and you’ll have to wait twelve hours for the next one!
This domain map is part-map of the various domains, and also part-timetable, as the map clearly shows which times match each crossing. Each wedge of the clock shows the kind of world you’ll be entering, from the underwater domain of Memoria at one, to the volcanic casinos of Rapture at nine. Soraya really brought these domains to life with a design that fits at home within Chime!
I’d previously commissioned Soraya to create a map for my Young Adult fantasy series, Sand Dancer (See above – bottom image), and was blown away by her artistic talents and eye for detail then. I knew she’d be the perfect cartographer to tackle my clock-map! And I’m sure you’ll agree she has created a truly magical map.
And without further ado…
…Please feast your eyes on
Isn’t it beautiful? I’ve been stealing peeks at this map ever since we were shown it, and I am still finding new details and I don’t think I will ever get tired of looking it.
Trudie Skies has been living inside fantasy worlds ever since she discovered that reality doesn’t quite live up to the hype. Through the magic of books, she wishes to share these worlds of hope and heroes with other weary souls. Living in North East England, Trudie spends most of her free time daydreaming about clouds, devouring whatever fantasy books or video games she can get her hands on, and chasing after her troublesome dogs, who would like to reassure you they are very good boys.
Her debut YA fantasy series, Sand Dancer, was published through Uproar Books. Trudie is now writing adult gaslamp fantasy with her new series, The Cruel Gods.