Happy Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! Today I'm so thrilled to feature NIGHTBORN, the second book in the THRONES & BONES series by Lou Anders. Described as, "NIGHBORN is a spellbinding tale that will hook fantasy lovers and gaming nerds alike with its detailed world building, humor, and hair-raising adventures." Nightborn is the sequel to Frostborn, and will be out on July 14th. Today I've got an exclusive interview, and a map to share with you. First, here's a little bit about this exciting, upcoming release:
Twelve-year-old Desstra is in training to join the Underhand, the elite agents of the dark elves. But her graduation is jeopardized by the betrayal of a teammate. Things go from bad to worse when she is sent on a secret mission, under the supervision of this same rival.
Karn is trading in the city of Bense, when he is snatched into the air by a wyvern who carries him to the home of the dragon Orm. The great dragon tells Karn he believes a second Horn of Osius exists, hidden across the continent in the city of Castlebriar, and that Thianna went searching for the horn and is now missing. With only a dragon's blessing to aid them and a mysterious riddle to guide them, Karn and Thianna must race the dark elves to a prize that could alter the fate of nations.
This book will be out on July 14th, from Crown Books for Young Readers. You can pre-order it from Amazon | B&N. Add it to Goodreads.
Mapping the Fantastic
A Chat with Cartographer Robert Lazzaretti
The wonderful map of my imaginary country of Norrøngard and it’s port city of Bense were drawn by an amazing map maker named Robert Lazzaretti. Robert, or Lazz as he prefers to be called, is quite famous for the maps he draws for such role playing games as Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder. I’m lucky enough to have worked with him on seven maps, only two of which have been made public, and we’re going to work on many more. I’ve discovered that if I work on a map with Lazz while I am working on the outline and manuscript of a novel, that just as the story informs the map, the map also informs the story. It’s become an important part of my writing process for me and one I hope I can continue for a long time! Lazz is an amazing guy and a talented artist, and so I asked him to let us in on how he does what he does.
Lou: How did you get started as a cartographer? What drew you to mapmaking specifically?
Lazz: I always enjoyed drawing imaginary places from my mind, I would draw huge underground caves and dungeons filled with monsters and adventurers fighting over ancient treasures and gold filled boxes deep underground. I went through school always being focused on the arts, I enjoyed reading and science and other subjects, but creating art gave me the most feeling of satisfaction, so I continued to pursue a career based study in art when I went on to the University. I was hired by a small game company in my home town to work as an intern in their art department. This was the most important thing that happened to me; I learned so much on the job experience, and more importantly I was finally able to get artwork published. This Internship led to me being hired by a larger game company to draw maps for them all the time. I was very happy to be be able to devote all of my time to being a cartographer.
Lou: Can you talk a little bit about your career to this point? Do you draw your Maps by hand or do you draw them digitally on a computer?
Lazz: Everything is hand drawn technically, the only difference is that currently I use a digital tablet that is connected to my computer and a drawing/painting program to illustrate the maps. In the earlier part of my map career we used pen and ink, graphite pencils, watercolors, markers, and other media to finish the job. I think it is important to have a good knowledge of traditional art supplies before you delve into digital media.
Lou: To what degree does real world geography place constraints on you when drawing a fantasy map?
Lazz: There are certain rules that should be followed, rivers flow down from glacial mountains to the seas, there are usually foothills at the base of those mountains, sometimes followed by trees which turn into deep forests. A desert is not usually right next to a swamp. Sometimes there are places that call for no common sense and things are crazy opposite, but in most cases it is a good idea to have a basic knowledge of geography.
Lou: What is your favorite kind of map to draw?
Lazz: I love making city maps. I was always inspired by medieval city maps and would get lost in the details of all the buildings and street names. I always imagine myself exploring these imaginary cities and all of their secret alleyways and little shops scattered along winding streets.
Lou: Is there anything you think has been unique to the experience of drawing Thrones and Bones maps?
Lazz: I really have been lucky to be able to enjoy the excitement of watching the maps we worked on together come to life. It is a wonderful process of words becoming visual and the final results are equally appreciated.
Lou: What draws you to fantasy and what are you some of your favorite fantasy books and movies?
Lazz: I do enjoy fantasy and science fiction worlds equally.
The Animal Family by Randall Jarrell
Across the Far Mountain March by Neil Hancock
Dominic by William Steig
Children of Morrow by Helen Mary Hoover
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
Dune by Frank Herbert
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
and many more....
Wings of Desire, Brazil, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The Princess Bride, Jason and the Argonauts, Kiki's Delivery Service, Angel's Egg, American Graffiti, Grease, North by Northwest. Too many to list really
Lou: What is the hardest thing you've ever been asked to draw? What is something you'd like a chance to draw that you haven't yet?
Lazz: There was a large poster map that I had to hand draw and paint with real watercolors shading hundreds of mountains and hills and such, but the most difficult was the 5000 plus map tags that had to be placed on this map detailing country names, city names, and other important details from the years of history about this land; very tiring. I always enjoy any new map project that I get to work on, I don't know if there is anything I feel that I have not drawn yet, I think it would be something no one has thought of yet or drawn yet.
Lou: If you had to build a house and live in one of the Thrones and Bones maps that you have drawn so far, which map which you choose to live in?
Lazz: I would most likely belong in the Town of Castlebriar*, in a small house near the Westwater River, outside the city walls. The house would be small with some sort of deck or porch to sit on with my easel and paint brushes and paints scattered in various jars and mugs. it would be a bit eccentric looking most likely. Oh I would have to have a boat to go fishing in, something ramshackle :) (*Lou notes: Readers will discover Castlebriar in book two of the Thrones and Bones series)
Lou: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to make their own maps?
Lazz: Draw every day, carry a sketchbook or notebook small or big with you always. Fill them up with your ideas and keep them so you can look back at where you started and see where you are now. Look at what inspires you, do research on the internet, and go to the library and look at art books and history books. If you find a style of work that you like, then try pull apart the things you like about it and practice more and make your own style of drawing. I used to make a page full of one inch by one inch squares. Then I would start on the first square and draw a simple mountain inside of it, and write the label mountain, then I would use the next square and draw a castle and label it castle and so on down the line until you have a set of map icons that are yours and your style. This is a fun easy way to start imagining how your maps will look and you will have the map legend done before you finish the map.
PRAISE For Frostborn
“Frostborn is the fantasy adventure book I wish I’d had when I was a kid.”
–Charlie Jane Anders, i09
“While I cut my fantasy-reading teeth on the works of Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman’s DragonLance and Darksword, I would have gobbled up this book at that age. Hell, I thoroughly enjoyed it at my current age.”
– Rob H. Bedford, SF Signal
“Future fans of Tolkien and George R.R. Martin can happily cut their serial-fantasy teeth on this first book of an eventual series.”
─ Kirkus Reviews
⋆“The setting is rich, the characters well-defined, and the danger ever-paramount. It’s a strong and thoroughly enjoyable start to the Thrones and Bones series.”
─ Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“. . . adventure fans will enjoy the action, the Norse background, and the occasional flash of humor.”
─ Booklist Reviews
"Anders sculpts a rich world filled with his deep sense of family and fantasy into this powerful journey of discovery and friendship not seen since Alexander first introduced readers to Prydain."
─ Scott Taylor, Art of the Genre
"Lou Anders's FROSTBORN is sure to appeal to young readers looking for a dose of monsters and magic. Not just a classic fantasy romp, Anders's debut novel explores the experience of feeling young and out of place in a world that refuses to see you for who you are—something readers of all ages can identify with."
─James L. Sutter, author of Death's Heretic
Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books of the Year
Editor's Choice of Amazon for the month of August
PW Picks “Books of the Week” for the week of
io9's "Must-Read Science Fiction and Fantasy Books for August"
2015-16 Beehive Book Awards nominee
Named a Staff Pick by: Politics and Prose, Books Inc., King's English Bookshop, Powell's, & more!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lou Anders drew on his adventures traveling across Europe in his teens and twenties to write Nightborn, combining those experiences with his love of globe-trotting adventure fiction and games (both tabletop and role- playing) However, he has yet to ride a wyvern With the addition of characters Desstra and Tanthal, Anders hopes that his second book in the Thrones and Bones series will continue to appeal to boys and girls equally Anders is the recipient of a Hugo Award for editing and a Chesley Award for art direction He has published over five hundred articles and stories on science fiction and fantasy television and literature A prolific speaker, Anders regularly attends writing conventions around the country He and his family reside in Birmingham, Alabama
You can visit Anders online at louanders.com and ThronesandBonescom, on Facebook, on Tumblr, on Instagram and on Twitter at @ThronesandBones and @LouAnders, Pinterest and Goodreads.
*Thank you to the publisher for providing all of the content for today's post.