Thursday, August 2, 2012

MSFV Winner: J. Anderson Coats

Hi, guys! Welcome to a special edition blog tour to help spread the word about the Miss Snark's First Victim blog contests and do a little publicity for the winners.

J. Anderson Coats (link) is another writer who credits MSFV with giving her publishing career a boost. (My story was on David Kazzie's blog yesterday, link.)

Coats's debut novel The Wicked and the Just was published in April 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The MSFV Secret Agent contests are free and open to all writers (link). We hope you'll visit, participate, and we we wish you much success on your path to publication.

Now for the interview!

J. Anderson Coats has dug for crystals, held Lewis and Clark’s original hand-written journal and been a mile underground. She writes historical fiction set in the middle ages that routinely includes too much violence, name-calling and petty vandalism perpetrated by badly behaved young people. Her work is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. The Wicked and the Just (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012) is her first book.

How did participating with MSFV blog get you where you are now?

For the longest time, I admired the Erin Murphy Literary Agency from afar, but since they’re closed to unsolicited queries, I never got the chance to approach them.  However, my stalking of MSFV paid off one day when Ammi-Joan Paquette opened submissions just for readers of Authoress’s blog for a two-week window at the end of February 2010. I leaped at the chance and emailed her a query within ten minutes.

What followed was a nine-month courtship of sorts in which I made revisions with the full expectation that it would end in the “thanks but no thanks” email.  But that “no” never came, and the ink wasn’t quite dry on my agency contract when W/J sold to Harcourt.  It was something like ten days between being unagented and my first sale--quite a whirlwind!

Now I’m part of this rapidly-growing and friendly cohort of other MSFV success stories, and I’m sure glad to have the company as we all move forward in our careers.

Who are your biggest literary influences, and/or what are a couple of your favorite reads?

I love Margaret Atwood’s world-building and Terry Pratchett’s playful, clever voice. I love Toni Morrison’s intense, rhythmic prose and Umberto Eco’s eye for detail.  I’m in awe of Laurie Halse Anderson’s ability to tap into the lived experience of young people.

Some awesome things I’ve read lately are AMELIA ANNE IS DEAD AND GONE by Kat Rosenfield, THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY by Adam Rex, and PREGNANT PAUSE by Han Nolan.  I read like a buzz saw, and I’ll stick with just about anything that can surprise me.

Your book, The Wicked and the Just, came out Spring 2012. Congratulations! Tell us about it!

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.

The book is set in 13th-century Wales. What attracted you to this time and place?

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?

What's next for you? Do you have another book in the works or coming soon?

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.  Then there’s a standalone book that’s set in twelfth-century Wales about a girl con-artist, a warband, an abduction, a badly-timed war, and a charismatic but mercurial king’s son.

I don't know about you guys, but I think the 13th Century has never sounded so cool! Thanks, Jillian! And here's where you can buy The Wicked and the Just:

Tomorrow, Jillian will interview J.M. Frey, author of The Dark Side of the Glass (which I read and loved), on her blog (link). We hope you'll join us, and catch the whole tour!

@angelaackerman & @writerthesaurus

Have a great week, reader- and writer-friends! <3


Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds like a fascinating time period and book! Amazing how fast that signing/sale went - wow!! :)

Matthew MacNish said...

Sounds like a fascinating tale! I love the middle ages, and you're right, Wales doesn't get enough attention.

Now I'm off to read yesterday's interview.

Unknown said...

Awesome interview!! And it's funny that I clearly remember the time when Ammi-Joan opened to queries to those of us who mentioned her blog!

Oh, and can I just say that I was dying to read the Wicked and the Just--but it doesn't come on kindle where I live :( (I just read on kindle since solid copies of books take sooo long to arrive --like two months!!). But I will be (im)patiently waiting for The Wicked and the Just to get on kindle! :)


Authoress said...

Great interview! I think that, in college, I was the only person I knew who had an album of Medieval music. It was called "In a Medieval Garden." I actually listened to it. :)

So kudos on your choice of time period!! Your book is on my "wish list", naturally. :)

Tara Dairman said...

Ooh, I've been dying to read this book--and this interview is the perfect reminder! Also, I love that you have other 13th-century Wales stories in the works.

Hooray for MSFV putting writers in touch with Joan! =)

Theresa Milstein said...

Nice to hear another success story out of Ms. Snark's First Victim.

Anonymous said...

The Wicked and the Just sounds like a fascinating book, particularly since a woman I know is in Wales on vacation right now and has been taking Welsh lessons for years. On Facebook she wrote, "Dw i wedi cael sgwrs hyfryd gyda aled Llion jones. Oedd e'n neis ei weld e." I have no idea what it means, but I offer it as proof of my veracity. I will tell her about your novel.

Stephsco said...

Medieval Wales -- I'm SO intrigued! The book sounds fantastic.

Angela Ackerman said...

I absolutely love this time period, so I am very excited to read your book! Congrats, congrats!


LTM said...

@Judy--that is too cool! You need to send her a copy of the book--LOL! I don't even know how to pronounce what you wrote. Is that Chaucer? ;o) Thanks for visiting! :o) <3

Unknown said...

I love Wales and want to go back there some day--in the meantime, I'll have to read your book! Thanks for sharing your story. :)

Michael Di Gesu said...

Terrific interview LB....

I had entered the authoress's contest many times. I think it's amazing all the good that comes from it.

As for Jillian's book... it sounds awesome. I love period novels and having it set in 13th cent. Wales is not a common time and place, so it intrigues me.

Thanks ladies...

BB hugs to you LB.

Kelly Polark said...

Great interview, and I also adore Rex's Smekday book!

KM Nalle said...

This book sounds so good!! Great interview.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

I've seen this cover before, which is intriguing in itself. Plus, I have huge respect for Ms. Anderson Coats' agent. Thanks for posting this wonderful interview!

Vanessa Morgan said...

This sounds like a fascinating read. Great interview!
~Vanessa Morgan

LTM said...

Thanks, Kari! And I agree! :o) <3

Jennifer Shirk said...

You're right, Medieval Wales doesn't get a lot of attention.

I loved reading the posts on the secret agent contests, always so interesting to see what grabs an agent's interest.

PK HREZO said...

Wow what a setting!! Love it. Nice to meet Miss Coats and learn about her story. I really like her agent too. She's one of the only one who's ever asked to see more of my work. :)

Ann said...

Great interview. At the moment I am saturating myself in Middle fiction, as it is what I am working on at the moment.

Alice said...

I'm a new follower. I came over from Elissa Cruz's blog.

LTM said...

Welcome, Alice! :o) <3

M Pax said...

Congrats to J! What a great story ... her personal one ... as well as the novel. All success!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Wow...ten days! What a great story!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

The Wicked and the Just sounds like a fabulous read and I do love the cover!

E.M. Kokie said...

I read The Wicked and the Just and really enjoyed it! The dual narrative was a great way to tell the story. Congratulations on such a wonderful debut. I loved reading about your sprint from unagented to first sale - ie, all that prep work for the super fast sale. :)

Great interview, Leigh & J!

Angela Ackerman said...