Deep in the Heart

Susan Lin - deep in the heart map

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Here’s a look at an ongoing mapping project I’m working on in conjunction with my in-progress collection of short fiction and CNF taking place in or around my hometown of Sugar Land, TX.  I created this first draft for my final project in the “Maps and the Geospatial Revolution” course (taught by Dr. Anthony Robinson at Penn State) that just concluded on Coursera.  Next month I’l be taking the “Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology” course out of the University of Alberta.  I expect I’ll have much inspiration for my novel as a result of that class.  Speaking of which, the first excerpt for Tyrannosaurus Rexia has surfaced online at Ghost Town.  Go check it out: A Lifetime Spent Documenting the World

Check out what I had to say about my map below:

As a writer whose work is heavily influenced by place and location, I set out to create a map that could act as a companion to an in-progress collection of short fiction and creative non-fiction set in and around my hometown of Sugar Land, Texas.  I moved to the west coast two years ago with the plan to attend graduate school and work on a novel set primarily in the California wilderness. And yet, when I arrived I found myself writing constantly about the very place I’d just left. During my first week, I visited the Oakland Museum of California and found Gene Autry’s “Deep in the Heart of Texas” on a jukebox in their historical exhibit and immediately set it to play. I don’t think I realized how much I loved my home state until I wasn’t there anymore.

Currently, the map contains short synopses of each work and attempts to plot out crucial points of interest throughout the region using a color-coded system.  As I mentioned briefly on the side column, my goal was to show in a dynamically visual way how all these characters from disparate circumstances and situations and time periods exist in and share the same space, their paths in life overlapping.  I’m a firm believer of the notion that while we take away a piece of a place wherever we go, we also leave a piece of ourselves there.  The Earth forgets nothing.

In print, this map will act as both a reference guide and a table of contents with page numbers at the beginning of the book.  On the web, the possibilities are endless.  Once implemented online, the map could link directly to each piece and be an interactive tool for the reader, featuring more pop-up photos and zoomed in locations. It would also have the potential to evolve over time if I decided to write more pieces about the region and plot additional points, for example.  In the future, I hope to create more detailed maps for each individual story in the collection.

The base map was created using Google Maps API Styled Maps Wizard and then laid out and designed with Adobe Photoshop.  Some of the plotted photographs are from my own collection; others have been appropriated from the web.

Also, you may have noticed I haven’t posted a new installment of “As Seen on TV” in a couple weeks.  This does not mean I won’t be writing these posts anymore, but that particular series is on hold as I explore other distribution options.  I will say that since my last blog on the subject, Dexter (particular Julie Benz, which is ironic since I’ve had an irrational aversion to her since she appeared on Roswell) has completely won me over.


front endpages of "Hallelujah"

Last month,  I finally finished a collaborative book project I’ve been working on and off (mostly off) for an entire year.  I’m glad I finally completed it as I can now focus on other projects.  Current and upcoming projects include: re-binding a flipbook about a hard-working giraffe who just wants to be a gymnast, a thin volume of collected quotes from Kent Boyd of SYTYCD, a tin full of Edward Gorey-inspired blank books, and hopefully participation in the 2011 Sketchbook Tour, among other things.

In terms of writing, I’m sending out a few more things this week.  Hope something will come of it.

The Pinwheel

There I go, not updating again.  It’s quite sad really.  I’m also not sure why I updated in mid-January and didn’t mention what was going on around that time.  Strange. 

Anyway, I’m hoping to launch my own domain and official website some time next month, but I’ve put up a temporary portfolio here.  Although I am still adding images, it’s the best place to see some of my work now.

I should have some exciting news soon!

Thick Skin

Baby, It's Cold Out There (BACK, CLOSED)
Baby, It’s Cold Out There (BACK, CLOSED)

A couple weeks ago, I finally finished a project that has been at least a year or two in the making.  While writing my senior honors thesis (a work of fiction that takes the reader through a girl’s life as she tries to find ways to co-exist with a father who died a couple weeks after her birth), I was thinking about books jackets as literal jackets or layers clothing that someone might put on or take off at any point in their lives.  In this piece, each layer or “jacket” represents one of the 18 years in Lyssa’s life (although I only made jackets for 8 of the more intriguing years, for practical purposes) and each has cutouts that reveal parts of the jacket underneath, or the year before, it: the past is visible in the present, is visible in the future.  This story to me is all about time and our bodies and what we choose to conceal and reveal, both in our heads and outside of them.  At the same time, there is also the idea that you put on a jacket when it’s cold, or take it off when it’s hot.  Lyssa is a character who seems to have very clear associations to temperatures, especially extremes like hot and cold.  And yet, I think there are times when the two blur together.  By the end, it’s a modern “Icarus and Daedalus” story.  To her, the sun is hot and the water is cold, so she thinks: I like the cold, it reminds me of my father, I choose the water.  But you still die.  In both extreme instances, you die.  There has to be some in-between and she has to find that.