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.