It All Began with a Map

Feb 15, 2017 by Jeffrey L. Kohanek, in Notes from Jeff

The first time my twelve-year-old self opened The Fellowship of the Ring, my eyes lit-up upon reaching page four. I found the map of Middle-Earth a revelation, painting this new world in a manner I had never before experienced. As I read through The Lord of the Rings, I would go back to that map countless times, studying it as Frodo and company journeyed across dangerous and fantastical lands.

Something special occurred while those books and I found my reading experience permanently corrupted. I would go to the bookstore or library, seeking stories that could capture my imagination as Tolkien did. As a result, I discovered authors such as David Eddings, Raymond E. Feist, Piers Anthony, Lyndon Hardy, Terry Brooks, Margaret Weiss/Tracy Hickman, and others. One thing that each of these books had in common was a map. I would scan the bookshelf for a cover that teased my imagination and I would immediately page through the first section of the book. Without fail, if I found no map, I would put the book back on the shelf and move on to the next.

After tasting the intriguing universes that high fantasy books offered, anything that took place within our own world seemed bland in comparison. I found that a map was the key to unlock these exciting new worlds, worlds that came to life within the pages that followed.

When I decided to enter the fray as an author, creating my own world and the stories of the characters that existed within it, I started with a map. Before I even created a plot outline, I needed a map to shape the world, a world with a rich history and a unique culture. Once the ancient kingdoms and current Empire of Issalia were drawn on paper, the last details of the plot and the magic system somehow became self-defined. Everything melded together as if it were a grand performance, perfectly orchestrated.

I am now deep into the final rounds of edits for the third book in The Runes of Issalia trilogy and I anxiously await for its April release. Although this particular adventure comes to an end, the world that surrounds the story contains many other tales waiting to be told. You can look forward to a prequel and even another series, taking readers to places and experiencing discoveries that I have only begun to imagine.

And to think, it all started with a map.

Map of Issalia