Robert A. Francis

When we chose this year’s map theme, we hadn’t thought it would inspire very many horror stories, but the internet proved us wrong.

Today’s You Are Here featured author decided to map his way to hell. Let’s learn a bit more about why (for pete’s sake!) would anyone want to do that.

Robert A. Francis

What inspired you to write a story about a map?

As a geographer, I work with maps a lot, and am interested in how they link to our geographical imaginations of space and place. I thought an anthology of stories around maps was a great idea, and wanted to explore how realms beyond ours might be mapped, and what is might mean to do so. So I started working on The Final Atlas.

Do you have a special place where you go to recharge your creative muse?

Recharging my muse is a luxury I don’t usually have – I do most of my creative writing longhand on the train to work and type it up in the small hours of the morning – but generally liminal places feed creativity for me, especially riverbanks, beaches and lake shores. The boundary between land and water has great profundity.

Can you tell us about a time when you wished you had a map?

Many times. I seem to get lost in cities I visit all the time and have an appalling sense of direction. Smartphones are a godsend.

Your story evokes a wonderful, and terrifying, sense of place. Was there a specific location the story is set in?

Venzone (where The Final Atlas is set) is a beautiful Italian town that I spent some time in as a doctoral student many years ago. It was knocked down by an earthquake in 1976 and rebuilt in just the same style as before. It is well worth a visit and even has mummies!


Rob Francis is an academic and writer based in London. He has published numerous scientific articles and books, and started writing short fiction in 2014. His stories have appeared in various magazines, including SQ Mag, SpeckLit, Swords & Sorcery Magazine, The Lorelei Signal, The Fable Online and Every Day Fiction.


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