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Writing & Tourism


I would like to share a tip with you which may be more useful to some writers more than others.

It is something that occurred to me following an email I received from an American tourist who had read a couple of my books and then visited York. Despite my stories being set in the sixteenth century, I have taken measures to ensure that all the locations are still present or that the historical sites can be easily accessed and recognized.


As he had never been to York before, he was in awe of the city, but also quite astonished that he could walk around and reference the places mentioned in my books. It was then I thought I should try to create a tour guide which I called ‘The Micklegate Companion to York’. Unfortunately, I could only ever offer it as an e-book, as it contained maps and illustrations. For those of you who self-publish, you know that printing costs for well-presented illustrations cost a fortune.


When I talk to other authors, it surprises me just how adaptable this idea is and certainly readers seem to like the idea of looking at a map if not a complete guide. It is not new, whodunnits like Agatha Christie stories often contain maps.


I also use it in developing scenes. When I write, I sometimes instinctively draw a plan of a room if it has many characters in there interacting, especially when some leave, and others come in. Diagrams help significantly when dealing with complex scenes.


You don’t have to create a separate publication like I did. Some of my books have a map in the front which doesn’t really affect printing costs. I haven’t sold the ‘Companion’ in massive numbers, but that is not the point. People still respond by saying they like the idea of visiting places where people (both real and fictional) lived or where there was a significant event.


I find the contrast between formal book reviews and the feedback I get through my Facebook advertisements quite considerable. The latter comments are informal and often refer to experiences, and many have said when they have read the latest novel that they would love to return to York.

If you have not done so, think about creating an extra dimension for the reader's experience.

Rob




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3 Comments


I completely agree with your suggestions. There is a special kind of thrill in standing on the same ground that your favourite characters have stood upon. I am regularly reminded by book lovers in other countries that they wish they could visit their favourite settings for themselves but live too far away. Any way of showing off your locations is always appreciated by someone.

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Rob Jones
Rob Jones
Mar 13

Thanks Jon. I can imagine writing tour guides was incredibly rewarding. I took a tour of Lancaster castle last year and I loved it.

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jonsparks
jonsparks
Mar 13

Really interesting post. Readers won't be able to visit my world, except in their imagination, but in the past I've done actual guidebooks, so I rellate in a skewed sort of way. And from the opposing side in the Wars of the Roses…



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