Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Class of 2k12 Interview with J. Anderson Coats, Author of The Wicked and the Just

Throughout the year I'll be bringing you some interviews with the authors over at the Class of 2K12! I hope you will enjoy getting to know these authors and thoughts on their books better. Today I'm bringing you an interview with J. Anderson Coats. Her book, The Wicked and the Just, is out now!

Do you share any similarities with your characters?

Of course! I don’t think writers can keep themselves completely separate from their characters, no matter how hard they try. Cecily has my bullheaded conviction of the way things ought to be, and Gwenhwyfar has my simmering rage at the many unfairnesses the world dumps on our doorsteps.

That said, I’m not nearly as bold as either of my protagonists. I don’t have Cecily’s overwhelming hubris (although it was fun to write)and I don’t have Gwenhwyfar’s singleminded ferocity. I can only dream of having Gruffydd’s pragmatism, and I’m quite a bit brighter than Emmaline de Coucy. But even my secondary characters share parts of me, because human beings are complicated creatures and we go through phases and have experiences that shape us. It’s those feelings we draw on when we create characters, not necessarily the traits themselves.

Why do you write for young people?

Young people are smart. They’re exacting and merciless, and they know what sucks and what doesn’t. I admire that. It’s a raw honestly a lot of adults don’t have the stomach for.

But kids and teens also get fed a lot of bullcrap. Some of it they know is bullcrap, and some of it they have to learn is bullcrap. One
of the ways they unlearn bullcrap is through books. I had the good fortune of reading a cubic ton of pages as a young person, and I learned a lot about life that way.

I learned that the world was bigger than my hometown.

I learned that kids could solve problems without adults.

I learned that kids could be powerful.

Now I have a chance to contribute to that body of literature, and I hope I can live up to those who came before me.

If you had to describe your book in one word what would it be?


THE WICKED AND THE JUST is set in the past, and people see the “historical fiction” label and get a picture in their mind of what it must be about. It’s one of the tricky things about genre – it can nudge people toward or away from a certain book based on a single phrase.

It’s my hope that people are willing to look beyond genre and read “an awesome story set the past” even they ordinarily don’t like “historical fiction.” I like this question because it lets me take THE WICKED AND THE JUST out of its little box and distill it down to its essence.

What was your reading life like as a child?

I can’t remember not knowing how to read. No one taught me; I just learned. My mother read to me every single night until I was twelve. I can remember going to the library once a week – every Saturday - and checking out stacks of books so tall I needed help getting them to the

My goal at age ten or so was to read every book in the world. Even the crappy ones. I had a pretty good start on the books at the library down the street from my house. Then my mom took me to the library where she worked and I stood there speechless at the sight of shelves floor to ceiling spreading out of sight, up two floors and down another two.

My first thought was Aw hell, I’m never gonna read every book in the world.

My second was I’m sure gonna love trying.

What’s the last book you read?

Fiction: The Revenant by Sonia Gensler. Winnie was a complicated, believable heroine and the setting – the Cherokee Female Seminary –
was an intriguing and memorable backdrop. The ending was wonderfully satisfying. I’m looking forward to her next book!

Nonfiction: The Governance of Gwynedd by David Stephenson. Not that this is spoilery in any way for my next book. But I would read the phone book if David Stephenson’s name was on the cover. If I ever meet him, I will squeal like a fangirl.

Reread: De Nugis Curialium by Walter Map.

As you may be able to tell, yes, I am a massive geek.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure food?


There are very few things bacon cannot enhance. Bacon is good in a salad. It’s good on a sandwich. It can even coexist with a maple bar.

I would not put bacon in my coffee, though. I don’t think some sort of distilled spirit involving bacon would be good. So bacon is not the alpha and omega.

But it’s awfully darn close.

What are you working on next?

I’m working on several projects right now. One is a companion novel to The Wicked and the Just which follows Maredydd ap Madog, whose father is the ringleader of the rebellion of 1294, as he negotiates the future his father wants for him and the future he wants for himself. Another project is a standalone novel set in twelfth-century Wales which follows Angharad, a girl who wants nothing more than to get married and have her own hall and children. Trouble is, she’s been widowed twice before age seventeen. Now everyone thinks she’s cursed – especially Angharad herself.

You can learn more about J. Anderson Coats at her website. The Wicked and the Just is available now!

About The Wicked and the Just: 1293. North Wales. Ten years into English rule.
Cecily would give anything to leave Caernarvon and go home. Gwenhwyfar would give anything to see all the English leave.
Neither one is going to get her wish.

Behind the city walls, English burgesses govern with impunity. Outside the walls, the Welsh are confined by custom and bear the burden of taxation, and the burgesses plan to keep it that way.

Cecily can’t be bothered with boring things like the steep new tax or the military draft that requires Welshmen to serve in the king’s army overseas. She has her hands full trying to fit in with the town’s privileged elite, and they don’t want company.
Gwenhwyfar can’t avoid these things. She counts herself lucky to get through one more day, and service in Cecily’s house is just salt in the wound.
But the Welsh are not as conquered as they seem, and the suffering in the countryside is rapidly turning to discontent. The murmurs of revolt may be Gwenhwyfar’s only hope for survival – and the last thing Cecily ever hears

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