World-building … in words and images.

I’m a miniature book collector, but I’m sure those of you who know Mesmered’s blog are quite aware of that. Quite aware also that I have an occasional  creative partnership with a highly respected miniature bookmaker from the USA. Pat Sweet of Bo Press Miniature Books

Pat is responsible in large part for the mapping of my fantasy world which is slowly taking place on Mesmered on the page titled The Chronicles of Eirie  A couple of weeks ago, a cryptic email arrived from Pat asking me to write a few words on the mapping of Eirie, not too much… maybe 200 words? And because I love fiction and long ago had conceived one of the Chronicles being about a cartographer, I drafted a quick 200 words from the mouth of a character called Gervais. Not sure about the name, but these are the words:

‘My name is Gervais. I am a cartographer, an explorer…

My world is strange and prior to me sitting down with my knowledge and my journals, no one had mapped Eirie. They were afraid… afraid of Others, what doors might be opened, what repercussions might ensue. 

Travel in my world was carried out by worn paths, by word of mouth. No one would ever draw a map or write the  name of a place for fear of offending those who live around us but whom we don’t see unless they wish it.

I am different. The edge of this world enticed me and so I travelled and as I journeyed, I drew lines and wrote names and the maps you see are the result. 

It was not without danger I can tell you. It turned my hair silver and I lost the love of my life. It is a story that will told before I die… if only because the Others demanded it be told and I am under oath to say so.


Gervais, son of Giovanni Poli. 

Isle of Marino. Veniche.’

In addition, Pat asked me to send her some scans of where each of the places were within their provinces. That done, I promptly moved back to continued efforts to prepare the historical fiction for publication.

Then last week, I went to the mailbox and found a tiny parcel… tiny parcels are Pat’s forte…

I opened it to find a longish square of card wrapped in crackling tissue, inside which was a series of minikin bookplates I had to sign as Pat planned to issue limited editions of a cartographer’s folio.

But how does one sign tiny plates in the finest writing?

I did my best… with embroidery and magnifying glasses in place.

In that same tiny parcel was another little packet, another exciting piece for my collection. It was in fact, exactly what she was intending to release: number 1 of the limited editions … for me.

This is what makes writing so wonderful … that you never how the world you created will be perceived by your readers. I put the thoughts to Pat (remember she was a theatre costumier) and this is what she said:

“Imagining an author’s work was my trade all my working life. And I had a lot less to go on: imagine writing a novel, but only in dialogue and with a few sparse stage directions. I think it must be very strange for a writer to compare what she thought she wrote with what comes out of someone else’s imagination. It must be a little like reading your own work in another language. I’m sure what seemed very specific to the writer turns out to have had a broad interpretation. When you think of the number of imaginings and translations that a work of fiction goes through:

1. what the author imagines

2. what the author actually writes

3. what the designer reads

4. what the designer decides to draw

5. what the designer actually draws.

6. what the viewer sees

(To which I would add one more thing, Pat)

7. what the editor suggests.

And for a script, add on what the director imagines and what the actors contribute. All very creative people adding their minds and ideas. And if they do their jobs, it’s still unmistakably yours.”

More about creative ideas in the next post when I will continue to illustrate Pat’s interpretation of the world of Eirie.