There was this map…

Martin Jan Månsson

People keep asking me about the map over the character list in THE POMEGRANATE. It’s really its very own story, one of those quirky things that happen when you’re researching a book. This story begins with me needing a map of medieval trade routes in the Mediterranean basin to figure out travel times and routes.

I had this old map image in my mind when I started looking. You know, the yellowish-looking versions with weird lettering. Few maps survived from the 12th century, so most are reproductions or artists’ conceptions. Still, I would have settled for a later, still old-fashioned looking kinda map. But then, this weird thing started happening. This one, obviously modern, map started showing up in each Google search. The more I looked, the more the same map kept showing up. Soon, I noticed it appeared in all sorts of course descriptions and listings from various universities all over the globe.

The original map by Martin Jan Månsson

And every time I searched, I came up with different sources, all showing basically the same map. And none of them providing attribution to the cartographer. After about three years of time/distance research, I realized this was absolutely the best map for the period, and I wanted to use it in the front of the book. Being able to see the routes makes a huge difference. But to use it, I had to get permission. To get permission, I had to find the cartographer. I was worried this was going to be a needle-in-a-haystack hunt. I must’ve looked at dozens of uses of the map until I finally stumbled on one with a name attached to it: Grad Student Martin Jan Månsson. Now, I just had to find him.

A bunch of searches later, I did. He lives in Sweden. I mean, look at the guy’s name with the ring over the “a.” That kinda narrowed the search. Once I had a name, I started checking the usual places: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. In an act of frustration, I stuck it in the Google search box with “email address,” and voilà! Success at last.

With little expectation of response, I sent Martin an email politely asking how much he would charge to use the map in the book. A couple of days later, there was a lovely email saying all I had to do was give him credit for the map. I just about fell off my chair…right before I started bouncing up and down like Tigger. And I saw most exciting thing I’d read in a long time:

I could customize it a bit for you to better suit your needs. For example put some arrows at the end of the routes that exits the image frame.

Thus, a wonderful correspondence ensued. We went back and forth, forth and back adding, subtracting, correcting, and adding some more until Batsheva had her very own map. I think when I opened the email with what Martin thought might be the final version, I cried. I could not believe I had a map so specific to Batsheva’s journey. It was one of the most exciting moments in the creation of the book.

Martin is no longer a grad student; he’s an urban planner for the city of Jönköping, Sweden. He’s got a cool website: Lycklig Stad: A Study of Cities and People. (Small confession here: once upon a time, I briefly considered a career in city planning, so this is nerd heaven for me.) And if that is not enough, he has this little (ha!) side-project going on local architectural traditions on a global scale. And to my utter delight, he most recently wrote to say Cambridge University is using his map, and have reached out on possibly collaborating on a project. Totally cool, people.

And best of all I learned to write,

Du är helt min hjälte!

Martin, you are totally my hero.

And yes, the paperback arrived in Sweden.

Martin Jan Månsson
Martin and book

Published by SJSchwaidelson@The Author Is In

New York born and bred, living in Minnesota, I am a widow, mother, grandmother, and writer. These are the things I do well.

3 thoughts on “There was this map…

Open for discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: