Guinea pigs like tunnels. That was why my first theme in my stories was to have places connected by them. Eventually I decided they didn’t all have to be connected, and the journeys became rather like the London Underground, with tunnels emerging into the daylight once they got far enough away from the centre. Further nuances arrived: there is a pattern at the entrance to each tunnel at the Inn of the Seventh Happiness (7H) that is repeated on its exit, wherever that might be, so the lines have a sort of motif, even if they aren’t colour-coded.
I carefully recorded the times spent in the tunnels and the overall journeys right from the start, and even worked out times by different methods: walking, running, slow coach, express coach…. There is method in the journey times, but I wish I hadn’t made it quite such a long journey from Marsh to 7H, and from there to Buckmore, although they are supposed to be far-flung places.
It was quite early on that I decided to add some places that I wasn’t planning to take you, although they are vivid communities in my imagination. Baden tells Fred about them in the coach when they are travelling from Buckmore one time, as Fred asks where the other tunnels at 7H go. It was a little while after that I decided to start working on a map of the area, especially since Baden said there weren’t any maps that had been made. The complication is that where I wanted to put certain places doesn’t work in conjunction with others. Ideally I had a vision of a country based on the map of the UK, with Marsh in the East, in Norfolk, where I live, and Buckmore somewhere in the North-West. But the land isn’t quite right. Some of it is, but the land beyond Buckmore is more Mull than the Lancashire fells. Buckmore is not as far north as Cumbria, as that is where Sowerby is, and to get to Sowerby, you have an extremely long journey from the Prancing Pony, which is the other side of Vexstein from 7H. Dimerie is supposed to be modelled on St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, but to get there you’d really go through the Forest-White Horse-Deeping area… And Torchwood and Cabot are to the west. The East side of the country is a fairly close match to the east side of the UK. But the western half goes all awry. This is strange because I’ve spent more of my life on the west side than I have in Norfolk!
I have an interesting plan (not unlike Fred’s wind map) that gives me distances and rough directions for all these places, and I have been playing about with it from scratch to lay it out in a satisfactory manner, then draw the rest of the map round it. This sort of layout is something I used to do for work for diagrams. The only way I can do it for my realms is to cheat.
Either one set of places is not where Baden says they are, or I invent a high level tunnel so that Vexstein-to-somewhere can cross the Buckmore-to-7H tunnel. I quite like that idea. It’s a little like the London Underground again. That has obsolete, ghost stations and systems hidden away off old tunnels. It would help to solve my problem of the special ‘vacuum tube’ message system between Vexstein and Buckmore. The vacuum tube could go up through the rock at this crossover point to cut off miles of travel that the coaches do.
The map is on my list of things to do. I’ve had reader feedback that it would be helpful. It’ll be on this website when I’ve finished it. I promise. Maybe starting with the ‘Underground’ map!