Tuesday, February 18, 2014

5 Questions with Allison Glock-Cooper and T. Cooper

I had the wonderful chance to read and review Changers Book One: Drew, the first book in the new YA series Changers by Allison Glock-Cooper and T. Cooper. They also agreed to this interview, which I hope gives you some insight into the new book!  
If you have any questions about the questions (ha-ha) that I asked (i.e. what is an Abider?) Please comment below and I will clarify. 
(Please visit the their website, which is linked below in their answer to question #5!)
HF: What is the significance of the Abiders' relationship with the Changers? Do they represent someone or something in the real world?

AG & TC:To us, the Abiders represent any group that forgoes knowledge in favor of superstition, or that acts from a place of fear. Basically, they are that subset of the population that believe things are better when they stay the same--which is rough life philosophy given nothing ever does stay the same. Their relationship with the Changers is one of distrust and the need to control this thing they can't understand. In the real world, when any minority begins to gain power or visibility, the opposition to that minority grows louder and more desperate. You can find this pattern in most social change movements. Simply put, things get very dramatic before they settle down. And we are meeting the Abiders at the start of their hysteria over the Changers.

HF: Did your high school experiences inspire the book? If not, what did?

AG & TC: Very much so. Also the high school experiences of our children, our friends, their friends. As writers, we are always listening. One small example is that I was, in fact, a cheerleader for a brief, inglorious stint. And the chapters about that came quite directly from the dissonance I felt being an independent, bookish girl putting on that pleated skirt and jumping up and down.

HF: I found Ethan's approach to being a girl amusing, especially to clothing (like jeggings), friendship, and romance. Did you two collaborate on different viewpoints of each gender?

AG & TC: The entire book (and series) is a collaboration, in that my husband would write a brief outline, then I would fill in the meat of the chapter, then he would add and subtract, and so on. Some chapters he wrote exclusively. Others I did. People always tell us they know who penned what, but they are often incorrect, which is a great compliment of sorts, in that it means we were both able to inhabit all the characters, and to play with gender and voice, which is kind of the whole meta-point of the series. That said, I did make him try on jeggings. And he nearly died.

HF: Will one of the supporting character's (such as Tracy or Chase) stories be elaborated upon in the next book?

AG & TC: Tracy and Chase, as well as Audrey and other key characters, will remain with us for the next three books. Whether or not they stay those people remains to be seen. If you are asking if we will explore their origin stories, that is a possibility too. Readers seem very keen to find out what happens to Drew. But Audrey kind of wins my heart. She is the kind of generous, honorable friend everyone wants to have.

HF: Why did you write this series? Do you hope to influence how young people see the world from the eyes of others?

AG & TC: We wrote the series to entertain, of course, but also to engage readers in a discussion about what really defines a person. (Our empathy project--wearechangers.org--more explicitly addresses this, as does our Unselfies campaign, where we encourage folks to stop taking pictures of themselves and instead take a few of how they feel.)  We believe everyone contains multitudes. And that true love and friendship weather the growth all humans go through as they become adults. We also believe where you begin in life need not be where you end up. It is such a hopeful notion to consider that who or what you become is really up to you. Lastly, we wanted to write something that was real and grounded, but also magical and fun. Because the best stuff in life happens when magic and reality collide.

Monday, February 3, 2014

5 Questions with J. Anderson Coats

I included a review of Ms. J. Anderson Coats' book The Wicked and the Just (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012) in my "Winter Break Mash-Up" post. (You might want to read that post for questions 2 and 4 to make sense.) She graciously agreed to do an interview on the fascinating topics explored in her book here with me! I hope you enjoy.

HF: How and when did you become interested in medieval Welsh culture?

JAC: When I was in the sixth grade, my gifted enrichment program dida unit on medieval culture. One of the books available for our perusal was Castle by David MacCaulay. (If you’ve never read it, Castle is a slice-of-life tour through a fictional castle in Wales with the most lovely and detailed illustrations.) This book pulled me so firmly into the medieval world that I don’t think I’ve ever really left. Castle made the middle ages feel familiar, approachable and real. I went straight to my library and systematically checked out every book on medieval Wales, then the middle ages in general. When I’d read them all, I started harvesting titles from bibliographies and bugging my mother to get books for me on inter-library loan. I became the kind of unbalanced teenager who had research interests instead of boyfriends or, y’know, a life.

HF: When writing your book, did you sympathize more with one character than the other? (Cecily or Gwenhwyfar)

JAC: Cecily certainly has problems, but many of them are first-world problems and often of her own making. Gwenhwyfar’s problems are more immediate and visceral and dumped in her lap, but her fierce and uncompromising attitude complicates her ability to deal with her situation productively. Authors can’t afford to cuddle their characters too close. It’s when you put them through the wringer that they start doing interesting stuff.

HF: Did you ever consider writing non-fiction instead of historical fiction on this subject? If so, what made you choose historical fiction?

JAC: I have a bunch of academic degrees; a few in history, one in library science. I definitely could have written a straight history, but I’m much more interested in the story of early colonial Wales---what was happening on the ground to ordinary people, how they experienced these laws and injustices, how they responded. History happens out in the weeds no matter what the books tell you about kings and battles and Important People.

HF: Your book was written with a dual perspective, alternating by chapter. I noticed that Gwenhwyfar's chapters were a little bit shorter than Cecily's. Was there a reason for this?

JAC: I structured the book so Cecily’s narrative was initially the stronger, dominant one, but toward the end, Gwenhwyfar’s sections grow longer and Cecily’s become shorter. The distance between them is shrinking as the world changes around them.

HF: Do you plan to write more historical fiction, and if so, will you stay on the subject of medieval Wales? If you plan to write something other than historical fiction, will you stay in the YA


JAC: I definitely plan to keep writing YA, and maybe middle-grade someday. I like historical fiction and I’ll probably write more in the future, but I go where the story goes.