Tuesday, 7 February 2012
Exclusive Interview with J. Anderson Coats, Author of The Wicked and The Just
J. Anderson Coats : The Wicked and the Just takes place in 1293-1294 in north Wales, ten years into English rule. Cecily is an unwilling transplant to the English walled town of Caernarvon, and she’d like nothing better than to go home. Gwenhwyfar, a Welsh servant in Cecily’s new house, would like nothing better than to see all the English go home. The ruling English impose harsh restrictions and taxation on the Welsh, and conditions in the countryside are growing desperate. The rumors of rebellion might be Gwenhwyfar’s only salvation – and the last thing Cecily ever hears.
Me : What was your inspiration of writing a novel on occupied Wales?
J. Anderson Coats : Medieval Wales doesn’t get a lot of attention despite the fact that it was a complicated, dynamic place. The native rulers managed to resist outright conquest by their English neighbors until 1283, but then the victorious English fast-tracked a series of castles and walled towns to maintain control of the area and the people.
What interested me was this question: Even when granted a lot of special privileges - including significant tax breaks - how did English settlers live in a place where they were outnumbered twenty to one by a hostile, recently-subjugated population, and how did the Welsh live so close to people who’d done the subjugating, especially given the burdens placed on them by their new masters?
Me : Tell us about Cecily’s Wales? How did you imagine Wales at that era?
J. Anderson Coats : Cecily’s Wales is a pretty attractive place. English burgesses who are citizens of the town of Caernarvon don’t have to pay any taxes, the rents for the houses and lands are very low. There are all kinds of special privileges attached to being a burgess, too. Gwenhwyfar’s Wales, on the other hand, isn’t so nice. The Welsh have to make up for the taxes that the burgesses don’t pay, and they have a lot of restrictions placed on what they can do and say and where they can go. Life in north Wales in 1293 is pretty good. If you’re English.
Me : How do you like to describe your characters Cecily and Gwenhwyfar?
J. Anderson Coats : Cecily is used to getting her own way, which makes her hard to get along with. Gwenhwyfar spends too much time wishing things were different, and it makes her bitter. However, although neither of them would like to admit it, they have a lot in common. They’re both strong-willed and practical. Each of them is fiercely loyal and neither is easily led. Being a girl in the thirteenth century is not easy, and both of them deal with the world the best they know how.
Me : What was your reaction when you heard that your debut novel is going to be published?
J. Anderson Coats : Honestly, I just breathed and let the moment sink in. I knew I’d get here eventually; I’d worked too hard not to.
Me : Who are your inspirational authors?
J. Anderson Coats : I love Margaret Atwood’s worldbuilding and Harry Harrison’s playful, clever voice. I love Toni Morrison’s intense, rhythmic prose and Umberto Eco’s eye for detail. I could go on for paragraphs. I like to read widely because there’s something in every book to learn from.
Me : What are your most favorite YA books?
J. Anderson Coats : Oh gosh, there are so many! SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson is an old favorite, and PREGNANT PAUSE by Han Nolan is a new one. I also love THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY by Adam Rex and CATHERINE, CALLED BIRDY by Karen Cushman. Again, I could go on for paragraphs. There are so many awesome books in the world!
Me : Any advice for aspiring authors?
J. Anderson Coats : Give yourself permission to write crap. Everyone’s first drafts suck. Your favorite writer? Her first drafts suck. Your other favorite writer? His first drafts suck. It’s more important to just write. Get it on the page and repeat after me: “It’s a first draft. It’s supposed to suck.” You can fix things in a badly-written first draft, but it’s impossible to fix what doesn’t exist. Just write. And enjoy it more days than you don’t.
I would like to thank J. Anderson Coats, Author of The Wicked and The Just for giving me such an amazing interview and I would like to wish her best of luck for her book The Wicked and the Just
This interview was taken by Soumi@Pages From My Thoughts