Wicked and the JustNext among the children’s/YA authors that I’m featuring in the Games & Books & Q&A series is J. Anderson Coats. J. is the author of the YA novel The Wicked and the Just (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), set amid the English occupation of medieval Wales. Published in 2012, the book was ranked among the year’s best YA fiction by both Kirkus Reviews and the Young Adult Library Services Association.

CB: What do you remember about the first video game you ever played?

JAC: Playing Nintendo was a way to hang out with my older brother and develop a common vocabulary. The better I got, the more he treated me like a peer instead of a pest. We bonded over Karnov and Contra.

CB: What games did you play the most when you were a kid? What did you love about them?

JAC: I played a lot of Super Mario Bros. 2 and 3, and hours and hours of Dragon Warrior II. Dragon Warrior was a quest game, and you had to travel around talking to people and gathering items and interpreting clues. It reminded me of reading a great story, only you got to participate.

J Anderson CoatsCB: What role do games play in your life today?

JAC: Games are a big part of how I connect with my teenage son. He doesn’t want to do things like bake cookies anymore, but he’s usually up for a game of Civilization V. And I’ve been known to play Civ V or Medieval Total War when I’m stuck on a scene or a plot point in a book I’m working on. It’s good for morale to succeed at something, even if it’s razing your opponent’s city to the ground.


I expect to continue this series through the October publication of my book Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet. If there’s anyone in the gamer or kidlit camp that you’d love to see me feature in upcoming posts in this series, please drop me a line or tweet at me or just leave a message in the comments.