Hi All. Today I’m celebrating the release of Shucked Apart, the ninth book in the Maine Clambake Mystery series, with a giveaway of a map of the setting for the books: Busman’s Harbor, Maine.
If you want to see the full map, it is here. (Scroll down after you’ve followed the link.)
How did this come about? Several years ago I wrote about the map of Three Pines being offered by Louise Penny’s publisher. The maker of that map, Rhys Davies, reached out to the Wickeds and we’ve been in touch ever since. Last July, Edith did an Ask the Expert post on the blog with Rhys.
I have always been tempted by the idea of a map of Busman’s Harbor. I’ve loved maps of fictional places since I was a kid. I decided that if I signed a contract for Maine Clambake books ten through twelve, my present to myself would be a map.
Once Rhys and I agreed to do the map, the question was–what would it look like? I remember listening to William Kent Krueger on a panel when he said he knew the neighborhood where his protagonist Cork O’Connor lived really well and he knew the area where Cork’s office/burger joint is, but in between was a bit like the old maps, “Here be dragons.”
Busman’s Harbor was the same for me. Even though it is based on a real place, Boothbay Harbor, Maine, I’ve moved things around and made up a bunch of stuff. And, of course, maps of this type, which are really illustrations, simplify a lot even for real places.
We started with our inspiration, which was this map of Boothbay Harbor that hangs on the wall in my living room.
At the bottom it says, “Copyright 1931, Ethel B. Fowler.” In the other bottom corner it says, “This map designed here. The Bridge House Studio. Boothbay Harbor, Maine.” The Bridge House was directly across the water from our former house in Boothbay Harbor. I spent many happy hours on our front porch looking at it. I wrote several of the Maine Clambake Mysteries from that spot. The Bridge House has been a special place for me for a long time.
I used a real map of Boothbay Harbor to guide me for the initial sketch.
I have often described Busman’s Harbor as looking like a lobster hanging in the sea, so I also downloaded a lobster sketch to help me out. (I looked at hundreds.)
Here’ the first sketch I sent to Rhys. I sent along a Word doc with a prose explanation, too.
Note that I had mixed up east and west. Rhys helpfully straightened me out. This is the kind of project I love to do, but not the kind I’m good at.
Rhys and I iterated back and forth, him adding to the map, me sending back notes.
One piece of advice I would give every author reading this, have your map made before you write nine novels and four novellas, putting stakes in the ground every step of the way–some of them contradictory!
Getting the illustrations of the houses was, if anything, more of an adventure. I’ll write about that process in my next Wicked blog post on March 8th.
Louise Penny has said she was reluctant to have a map because she wanted Three Pines to live in each reader’s imagination. I believe that, too. Every reader’s Busman’s Harbor is different and there is a risk in making it concrete, ink on paper, pixels on screen.
The final map isn’t exactly my Busman’s Harbor. But it is the Busman’s Harbor Rhys and I created together.
Readers: What do you think of the map? If you’ve read some of the books, it is the Busman’s Harbor you imagined?
Also, don’t forget to buy Shucked Apart!