A Drift of Quills – Illustration, Sketches, Images…Get the Picture?

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Long have images stirred my imagination. I recall flipping through dusty old classics looking for illustrations. I would sit and stare at the The Chronicles of Narnia, or histories on Greek myth, entranced by the sketches within.

But images do more than keep me flipping through my tattered copy of Treasure Island–pictures are what start the whole story for me. C.S. Lewis talked about the same. When discussing how he came to write the books of Narnia, he wrote that they “all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood.” My own storytelling is similar. I write from images in my head. For me it was the picture of a young blind girl standing in the desert, listening to a long awaited storm rolling in.

What was her story? Why was she blind? These and a hundred other questions assailed me. A Hero’s Curse was born. (I haven’t seen any fan art of that particular scene yet, so please, give it a shot!)

While I may not have that scene, there are many talented artists in the Kingdom of Mar. We have sketches of rock basilisks, arcus vultures, Urodela and the Kingdom Above the Sun, Aeola. We have gorgeous, digitally painted pictures of the Valley of Fire, dragons, Syteless Peak, and Queen Leonatrix. (Check out more under Illustration, or Concept Sketches). And we have a map.


Ahhh, maps. What are some of your favorites? The Maurader’s Map is an of course. I have a mug with the same on it. It transforms when you fill it with something hot. Just think, without a map Treasure Island would be called “Treasure Somewhere” and probably would have been a tedious bore. If you ever get into the middle of a story and it starts to drag, just note a good map is probably the tonic it needs.

What about you? What are some of your favorite images from stories? What are your favorite maps? Or do you hate it when someone else pushes their way into your imagination through illustration–you want tiny cramped text with minimal margins for a thousand pages–the less white space, the better, thank you! Let me know in the comments below!

Patricia Reding

Patricia Reding

Author of Oathtaker

Patricia’s Website


The Oathtaker Series is set in a medieval sort of time. Of course, as it is a fantasy, it does not correlate to any actual historical age in our world. Thus, as the author, I had the pleasure of making it exactly what I wanted to be. With a fantasy, the author chooses all of the details of that world in which the tale is set. So, that world is what the author says it is—nothing more, and nothing less. There are no rights or wrongs when it comes to what technology might be available, how people dress, what they eat—or even, the language they use, or the way they speak.  (Few of us could read the languages actually spoken in our world during the medieval period anyway, so why pretend to write in a manner exactly representative of those days?) Consequently, “medieval” is not an altogether apt description of Oosa, the land of the Oathtakers and Select.

I’ve decided to share pictures of a couple of buildings from my tales . . .  (don’t miss the rest of Trish’s post!)

Robin Lythgoe

Robin Lythgoe

Author of As the Crow Flies

Robin’s Website


Making up worlds is one of the best things about writing in the fantasy genre. It’s also hard work! There’s a lot of space for the fantasy author to let their imagination run wild, but we also need to tether our settings to a reality the average reader can relate to.

My short story, The High Roads, opens in the woods as night approaches… (catch the rest here!)


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2 Responses to A Drift of Quills – Illustration, Sketches, Images…Get the Picture?

  1. Robin Lythgoe says:

    Oh, MAPS! I love maps. I love making maps, too. And now yours is tucked into my Fantasy Cartography folder on Pinterest. Woot!

  2. Pingback: A Drift of Quills: Picture This (#3) - Robin Lythgoe

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