Questions and answers with Tom Paradise

Q: How did you get the idea to do this type of book?

A: Arkansas has not had a comprehensive geography book written in decades, so as a geographer and professor, I thought it was time. We are barraged with requests for maps and information about the state from individuals, agencies, and schools all year long, so Arkansas: An Illustrated Atlas was long overdue.

Q: What things in your background helped as you assembled the book?

A: Having been trained in the earth sciences and in cartography -- and having written, designed, and produced three previous atlases -- it made sense to create one for Arkansas. With new digital technologies in graphics and photography, it permitted us to create an informative book and map collection that can be offered as a book and online resource.

Q: How did you compile all of this information about Arkansas?

A: Northwest Arkansas was a perfect location because we used the academic resource of the University of Arkansas for assistance. We had professors, researchers, and other professionals to contact for advice on information, images, maps and sources. We basically created a think tank of geographic specialists who were then able to contact various specialists for all of the sections in the book.

Q: Why should readers be interested in this book?

A: The book is not only an interesting and fun read from cover to cover, but is also a fantastic reference. Every reader will learn something new, something interesting, and something helpful.

Q: Did you learn anything new about Arkansas as you worked on the book?

A: I was surprised as to the list of influential Arkansans who have run for the presidency throughout the years, and all hailing from the Natural State. Arkansas has produced a powerful group of political movers and shakers, with tremendous influence locally, regionally, and nationally.

Q: How will this book be useful to students?

A: Education is traditionally categorized into discrete subjects like botany, English, or civics, however the very nature of geography is integrated, interconnected, and networked -- an aspect of life and the landscape rarely taught or understood. Atlases are created to link the complex and diverse aspects of the landscape such as politics, culture, geology, and agriculture into one coherent collection of maps, diagrams, charts, photographs, and other information. Very few books or other media can do what an atlas can, since it is a visual and informative representation of a place and all of its wonder, stories, beauty, and history -- and Arkansas is truly unique.