the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults Author Blog

Linden McNeilly, Jill Berry, and MAP ART LAB!

Posted by Adi Rule on Wed, Jun 04, 2014 @ 10:06 AM

Today we're celebrating the release of Linden McNeilly and Jill Berry's Map Art Lab: 52 Exciting Art Explorations in Mapmaking, Imagination, and Travel, out now from Quarry Books, a division of Quarto Publishing Group. Linden is a member of the 2010 VCFA Sweet Dreams and Flying Machines, and she was kind enough to stop by and talk maps!

LAB Map Cover r6Travel through the exciting world of cartography with Map Art Lab. This fun and creative book features 52 map-related art activities. You will learn how to make colorful legends and eye-catching graphics, design maps in various types and styles, and create personalized maps that allow you to journey to new worlds. This book is for individuals, teachers, and groups of all ages. If you are a curious explorer who likes to visually record your wanderings, you can be a map maker. If you are a storyteller looking for new ways to tell your stories, you can be a mapmaker. If you are curious about yourself, you’ll find a huge amount of fun and satisfaction in making maps about where you are, places you long to go, and places you dare to imagine.

We can't wait to explore this book!

Thanks for coming by, Linden! Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a writer who keeps a journal of drawings, maps, watercolors and sketches. I teach 6th graders and include a lot of art in all my content areas. When I write novels, I do a lot of mapping to organize the action and setting.

Painted Compass RoseWhat was the spark that ignited this book?

My sister and I were talking about the things you could do to teach map concepts, while playing with them artistically.

What nugget of craft advice has been especially helpful to you?

The inspiration is in the practice. Show up for yourself on a regular basis, and your writing will come. Don’t wait for inspiration to sit down and write.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever Googled as research for your writing?

describe the imageA notorious Chinese female pirate who captured sixty-three ships from the Chinese Navy. Unbelievably fierce and undefeated.

Tell us about your writing community. Are you in a critique group? Does your son or mom read your early drafts? Is Twitter your bastion of support?

My husband helps me talk through plot problems, and has great suggestions, and is my first reader when I am all done with a draft. My writing group, all VCFA grads, meet once a month to critique each other’s work. Our group is the heart and soul of my writerly life.

How did attending VCFA affect your writing life?

First and foremost, putting that much time into the program made me start calling myself a writer. Second, I learned how to write even when I didn’t feel like it, which is what the writing life can be sometimes. Third, I have met the most supportive, creative and productive writers I could ever dream to meet, and I call so many of them my friends.

We couldn't agree more.

describe the image

Thanks for stopping by, and welcome, Map Art Lab!

Visit Linden online at

Learn more about Map Art Lab -- and purchase a copy so you can start making your own maps! -- at QBookShop.

Topics: nonfiction, 2014 release, Quarry Books, Linden McNeilly, Jill Berry, creative arts

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