Now that I am well into the third act of Vol. 1 of The Sibylline Chronicles, my map-making process is ramping up at the same time it winds down.
The map of ancient Sufetula (see below) is the last in the series of location maps for the novel. Sufetula – its temples, monastery and stunning high-plateau landscape – takes readers from the end of the second act through to the action that takes over the last chapters of the novel. While characters will return to Thysdrus and, eventually, Alexandria, I’m finding finishing this map bittersweet.
Beyond the emotional attachment, this one was – by far – the most fun to create. I drew inspiration and direct knowledge from a wide swath of resources that brought the city to life for me.
The first was Google Earth. Satellite imagery of the modern-day city of Sbeitla, Tunisia and the incredibly well-defined Roman ruins of ancient Sufetula to the North of the city proved key. I spent much time placing ruins and street routes, attempting to match them up. I also learned that a large portion of Southern Sufetula is now interrupted by the main road through Sbeitla. So, it gave me an opportunity to dip down beyond archeological boundaries to finish out the map.
To that end, I also incorporated ideas and a more thorough city feel from the beautiful drawings of archeologist and historian Jean-Claude Golvin.
He has, in all honesty, become one of my most beloved visionaries of the past. Born in Tunisia, Golvin took his passion for history, archeology and Roman amphitheaters and has spent a lifetime recreating the ancient world. His watercolour renderings now number 800 – including three of the cities featured in Vol. 1 of The Sibylline Chronicles – Alexandria, Egypt; Thysdrus (El-Jem, Tunisia); and Sufetula(Sbeitla, Tunisia).
I will continue making smaller scene maps in these final stages of writing as they prove particularly useful when it comes to placing characters and objects into a scene (continuity is key). I appreciate even more being able to return to them as I return to cities and more intimate locations where characters have already been, like memories of those moments early in the novel rushing back.
If you want to take a look at all of the location maps (and the obvious progression of my map making skills – oh boy), you can click here.