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.
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:
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.
3 thoughts on “There was this map…”
Love, love, love this post!!!
Thank you! It’s been quite the journey for both of us!
What a great story! Martin’s willingness to customize the map was the icing on the cake!