A Time Travelers Notebook by Author Holly Tucker

Place Matters

by | Jan 7, 2017 | Food & Travel

Turgot Map (1739)

I have always loved maps.

As a child, a tattered Rand McNally book of maps was all that I needed to entertain me on family road trips. I liked to track where we were heading, where we had been, and all of the places we had yet to be. I also marveled at how a simple turn of the map’s orientation brought new perspectives. Is there such a thing as reading a map upside down?

It all depends are where you think you are.

Maps have always been a huge part of my life as an academic and as a writer. I suspect that this comes from being a person who is deeply attached to notions of place and how place helps define culture.

Place Matters

I have lived in Nashville for over 17 years now—with several long stints in France interspersed between. There is something grounded, culturally, about the city. I know that I am somewhere when I am here. And this somewhere can be found nowhere else.

Where else but Nashville could I get expert advice from a neighbor about how to cook the dandelion greens in my CSA farm basket this week? Or chat with one of my favorite music artists—while we both volunteered at a school event? Or sip bourbon at a 19th century farmhouse, while listening to a friend who is an expert on the Battle of Franklin regale us with vivid stories in that lilting drawl of his?

Mapping Early Paris

I work a lot with maps as I write because they give me key insights into how the people I write about understood their relationship to place and space.

My “go to” map right now is the Turgot Map (1739). What I love about this map is that is more than just a representation of streets. You can actually get a sense of how people may have moved through the city and, even, invaluable details about what the buildings looked like.Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 5.22.51 PM

For both this book and Blood Work, I used the Turgot images alongside other period documents (paintings, municipal records, correspondence, tourist accounts of the city). The map is unusually accurate.

The maps provide me with clues about what the folks I write about would have seen, or heard, or smelled. Have a look at the Turgot map. Do you see the boats on the Seine? If I were writing about something that happened in that neighborhood, I would try to figure out what those boats might have been carrying, who were in them, and where they came from. While these details are not necessarily core to my narrative, they can provide visceral details that can help bring the past to life.

Brainstorm with Me

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this column—and am eager for any ideas you might have for future posts. Have any questions about research, writing, or publishing? I’ll do my best to answer them here!

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

SIGN-UP FOR AUTHOR UPDATES & BOOK GIVEAWAYS

Receive regular updates from Holly with a behind-the-scenes look at life in France, research, and book publishing. In the lead-up to the release, Holly’s publisher will also be giving away copies of City of Light, City of Poison.

* indicates required

Preorder City of Light, City of Poison

If you order a copy from Holly’s local bookstore, Parnassus Books, she’ll inscribe it for you! You can also support other independent bookstores by ordering from Indie bound. Click a logo below to preorder. Please be sure to include inscription instructions in the comments section of your order.

Parnassus Books Logo               Indie Bound Logo              

General Contact Information

W.W. Norton LogoMedia Inquiries
Erin Lovett, Publicity Director
EMAIL | 212-790-4388

Literary Agent
Faith Hamlin
Sanford J. Greenburger Associates
EMAIL | 212.206.5663

Holly Tucker Facebook         Holly Tucker Twitter          Holly Tucker Author Instagram         Holly Tucker Google+                   Email Author Holly Tucker

Message Holly

2 + 2 =

Explore Holly's Journal

Finished Books Arrive

There are few things more MAGICAL than the day finished copies arrive. Publishers distribute galleys (also called ARCs) in advance of the finished book for reviewers and the media several months before the finished copies go to press. But the day the REAL THING shows up on your doorstep...so exciting! SIGN-UP FOR AUTHOR UPDATES & BOOK GIVEAWAYS Receive regular...
Read More

A letter addressed to Madame Voisin

A letter addressed to Madame Voisin, a 17th-century fortune-teller/witch/poisoner. A young woman begs Voisin to cast a spell on her beloved so he will fall in love with her. Letters at the time were all of one piece. Writers folded their letters to create envelopes and then sealed them with wax. The letter was presented in a secret court hearing as evidence against her....
Read More

Home Is Where the Baguettes Are

I have the same routine every Sunday morning when I’m at “La Petite Maison,” our little house in the hillsides of Aix-en-Provence.  The sun wakes me up as it climbs over horizon and into the bedroom windows.  I linger for awhile and wonder whether I really, truly want to go out on such a peaceful weekend morning. But then I think about the croissants.  Those gorgeous...
Read More

City of Light receives starred review in Publishers Weekly!

SIGN-UP FOR AUTHOR UPDATES & BOOK GIVEAWAYS Receive regular updates from Holly with a behind-the-scenes look at life in France, research, and book publishing. In the lead-up to the release, Holly’s publisher will also be giving away copies of City of Light, City of Poison. <!-- Begin MailChimp Signup Form --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><link...
Read More

Place Matters

I have always loved maps. As a child, a tattered Rand McNally book of maps was all that I needed to entertain me on family road trips. I liked to track where we were heading, where we had been, and all of the places we had yet to be. I also marveled at how a simple turn of the map’s orientation brought new perspectives. Is there such a thing as reading a map upside down?...
Read More
Share This
City of Light, City of Poison Cover

SIGN-UP FOR AUTHOR UPDATES & BOOK GIVEAWAYS

Receive regular updates from Holly with a behind-the-scenes look at life in France, research, and book publishing.

You have Successfully Subscribed!