Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Five -- J. Anderson Coats

Today's Friday Five are being asked of author J. Anderson Coats whose THE WICKED AND THE JUST will debut on Tuesday from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  Jillian is an essential member of the Class of 2k12, an excellent resource and sports a whip-quick wit.  Plus she loves history.  Win.


1.  What would your super power be?

I would be able to manipulate time, either adding hours to the day or stopping time completely.  That way words could get written, the kitchen cleaned, the day job done and chess played with the kid without anything falling by the wayside.

2.  What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Real Simple magazine.  I’m in awe of living-room makeovers and subtle eyeshadow and one-skillet dinners that involve fennel.  My “d├ęcor” involves big piles of books and a relentless, futile attempt to keep the dinner table clear enough to eat on.

3.  If you could edit your past, what would you change?

I would be born with the ability to know what to say in any situation and make people feel at ease.  Being able to walk into any roomful of strangers and not feel awkward would make me a happier person.

4.  What other profession would you like to learn?

Cake-decorating.  First you make something breathtaking, then you eat it because it’s also delicious.

5.  What profession would you never, ever want to have?

Commission sales.  It does not align with my personality and worldview in any way, shape, or form.


From Coats's website: 

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.

You can buy THE WICKED AND THE JUST here.


You can find her on her website.
On Twitter.
On Facebook.
And on Goodreads.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Why I Love Britain and the British - Part 3


You knew it was coming, didn't you?  I love English history.  The Saxons and the Romans.  William the Conquerer and Harold. (side note, my first love of English history came from French class, learning about the Bayeux Tapestry (la tapisserie de Bayeux).  Old Harold with the arrow through his eye at the battle of Hastings.  Great stuff.)  The Anarchy of Matilda (or Maud) and Stephen.  King John. Richard II. 

Recently, I've been out touring centuries of English history.  My writing at the moment is all about the Tudors, but I love to get out and explore the rest of the history, too.  I visited a Roman villa, its mosaic floor almost entirely intact in some rooms.  I wandered the air museum at Tangmere and learned about the Battle of Britain.  In the same day.

I went for a two-hour walk through fields and along a canal and ended up at an ancient, crumbling octagonal tower in the middle of almost nowhere.  Odiham Castle, from which King John rode in a snit to set his stamp to the Magna Carta.

But the best part of my journey this trip was to visit Bosworth battlefield.  This is where Richard III lost his crown - the last English king to die in battle - and Henry Tudor picked it up.  The beginning of the Tudor dynasty.  And the end of one of the most maligned figures in history.  The history here is palpable.  The striations on the canon shot discovered in the field.  The belt buckles and clips found after centuries.  And a white boar badge, silver and gilded, worn by one of Richard's loyal followers and lost to the earth that August day in 1485.  I'm not ashamed to say that tears came to my eyes seeing that little piece of ancient metal. 

I love being able to visualize the history.  To strain to hear the sounds of canon fire or smell the smoke in a close castle room.  To look out a window and sweep away the tarmacked streets and cars and see only the rolling hills beyond.  This is why I love to write history, because I can indulge my imagination.

Please join me tomorrow on another little historical trip -- Nicole About Town is kicking off the Tudor Tuesdays blog tour with a post about Catherine of Aragon and an excerpt from GILT.  Please drop by!