Jan Coates – “What If…?”

header 2“What if…?” It’s the beginning of every story. What if you met a blind woman in a used clothing store?  What if you were a seven-year-old boy struggling to survive in Africa without parents?  What if you had a magic spoon? What if dogs could talk? Being a fiction writer means constantly wondering, imagining – how does it feel to be somebody else? It’s a lot like being nosy…
I live in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, and I’m a writer, a teacher, a badminton player, and a mother.  I grew up in Truro, NS (Janet Mingo) and went to Acadia University; I love potato chips, picture books and my family (not necessarily in that order). I’ve been writing for young readers since about 2000 when my picture book manuscript, “Sam’s Magic Cape,” placed second in the Atlantic Writing Competition.  It was a long and winding road until the publication of my first picture book, RAINBOWS IN THE DARK, in 2005, by Second Story Press of Toronto. I have two new middle grade novels out from Red Deer Press – THE POWER OF HARMONY, (2013) and ROCKET MAN (2014). I’ve also written sixteen ESL chapter books for Caramel Tree Readers, a Korean publisher. My newest book is a picture book , THE KING OF KEJI, set in Nova Scotia’s beautiful Kejimkujik National Park, illustrated by Patsy MacKinnon from Cape Breton. (Nimbus, 2015). My next book will also be a picture book, SKY PIG (Pajama Press, 2016).
My young adult novel, A HARE IN THE ELEPHANT’S TRUNK, (Red Deer Press), was a Finalist for the 2011 Governor General’s Literary Award (Children’s Text) and also a finalist for the 2011 Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children’s Literature (as was THE POWER OF HARMONY). Proceeds from HARE are being shared with Wadeng Wings of Hope, Jacob Akech Deng’s foundation through which he’s raising money to build a school in Sudan; the first two classrooms in the school were completed in the winter of 2013.  
Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you’ll get in touch: janlcoates60@gmail.com, or leave a message here. 

Happy reading and writing! Jan

29 Responses to Jan Coates – “What If…?”

  1. Nancy Jennings says:

    Hey, it’s just me! Wanted to say how much I love that picture of you…..boots ‘n all!

    Love, your big sister

  2. Laura Best says:

    Just wanted to say hello to a fellow NS writer. I hail from East Dalhousie not so far from Wolfville. Actually my brother in law lives in Wolfville.
    Haven’t heard of “Rainbows in the Dark” but I will make a point of getting a copy.

  3. jan coates says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Laura. We have a cottage at Horseshoe Lake, near New Ross – congratulations on your upcoming novel – isn’t “the call” an amazing experience? I’m in the middle of seeking a publisher for my middle grade novel – a not-so-amazing experience!

  4. Congratulations! Best wishes for continued success while pursuing something you love and were born to do! So very happy for you! Big Hugs! I’ll be watching BT in the morning and feeling so very proud!

  5. Cathy Cotton says:

    I very much enjoy your talk at the library conference in new Glasgow! I bought your new book -A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk for my daughter, it looks like a great read and very informative about the lost boys in Sudan. Rainbows in the Dark is another great book, I thought it would be a good addition to my library at Felix Marchand Educational Centre. Thanks again for signing both!

    • janlcoates says:

      Thank you so much, Cathy. The opinions and support of people who work with kids, and books for kids, daily is really significant to me. I totally enjoyed the librarians’ conference, too; especially the adult feedback (for a change).

  6. Leila Eid says:

    Hi Jan!

    I was just browsing your website hoping to find a link to the teaching guide that goes along with A Hare In The Elephant’s Trunk. I checked the publisher site and there is a link but for some reason I am unable to download the PDF. I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction.

    I also would like to say wonderful job on the book. I was fortunate enough to meet Jacob at Acadia. I remember going to one of his talks, and running into him often around campus. I am not sure if he remembers me but I certainly remember him and I am so pleased to see this book out there for young people to read. I am in the education program at UPEI and I have been talking it up when I can. I have a professor who teaches social studies as well as the Indigenous Education classes who has asked to borrow my copy.

    All the best,
    – Leila

  7. janlcoates says:

    Hi, Leila:
    Thanks for getting in touch – I just went to the publisher’s site and clicked the “Educator’s Guide” link, and the guide downloaded instantly
    .(http://www.fitzhenry.ca/detail.aspx?ID=10378,)
    so I’m not sure what the problem might be. I’ll send you an RTF copy via email. HARE is approved for curriculum use by the NS Dept of Ed for Grade 9 ELA and Grade 12 Global Studies. We’re all pretty excited about the GG Nomination, and anxiously awaiting the announcement of the winners on November 15th. Jacob and I would very much like to be in attendance at Rideau Hall on November 24th!
    Best of luck with your studies, and thanks for your support.
    Jan

  8. Jane Richards says:

    Hi Jan, Wonderful artical in the Truro Daily News today ! Good Luck !
    Jane (Christensen) Richards

  9. clmackay says:

    Dear Jane,
    My 10 year old daughter received a signed copy of The Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk for Christmas. She read it quite quickly and then, so did I. It is now her favorite book and I was really impressed with it. It is a truly amazing story and you did a fantastic job of telling it. I feel very grateful that my daughter is able to read a book like this that can take her from the little universe in which she is so comfortable and plunge her into a reality that makes her think and reassess her life. Thank you and Jacob very much for sharing this incredible story.

    • janlcoates says:

      Thank you so much for telling me about your experience with my novel. Before the book was published, Jacob and I were hopeful it might empower some young readers to initiate change, either in their own lives, or in the lives of those in the world at large. I had readers between the ages of 10 and 15 in mind when writing the story, so I’m happy to hear your ten-year-old daughter (and you) enjoyed the book.

  10. Jan Coates says:

    had to write you i seen your name on facebook and had a chuckle my name is Jan L Coates as well. I live in lake Echo Nova Scotia quite a coincendence for sure

  11. Marion Van Driel says:

    How very delightful! From the other side of the country, I’ve actually been in Truro and hope to return one day. I have written two children’s books but not been brave enough to release them yet…

  12. janlcoates says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Marion – finding a publisher is such a huge part of being an author, and it’s really useful to read hundreds of kids’ books along the way – I still read several every single week – there’s always so much to learn from other writers!

  13. Elly Oskam says:

    Hi Jan
    I am taking a course as part of my master’s degree in education at the University of Lethbridge in southern Alberta. Our professor, Robin Bright, has introduced us in more depth to various genres and formats of children and young adult literature, and we have spent considerable time discussing the importance of having Canadian authors in our classrooms. Robin’s daughter, Amy, brought in a number of books, of which A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk was one, and it really caught my attention. Since one of the assignments asked us to research a Canadian author, I was interested in finding out a bit more about you and your writings. Can you give me a bit more insight as to what got you into writing?
    Thanks so much!

  14. Bonna Chapman says:

    Hi Jan,
    I’m a friend of Nancy’s. Plus I ran into Karri and she said I should email you.
    I’ve been looking for an agent.
    Have any names for me I need help!

    Thanks
    Bonna

    • janlcoates says:

      Hi, Bonna: I’m assuming you mean Nancy, my sister? And Kari Thornton? I don’t have an agent, so I can’t help you. Seems there are very few Canadian literary agents, but I’m sure the WFNS can provide you with a list of agents. Good luck!

  15. Paula says:

    Excited to read your book, The Power of Harmany. We received it today for our classroom. I am a teacher in NB. The students and I were excited when we read that it was set in Springhill, NS (my hometown) and that you went to Acadia (so did I)

    • janlcoates says:

      Hi, Paula – thanks so much for getting in touch. I grew up in Truro, but set the book in Springhill because I wanted to include Anne Murray as it’s a book about singing, among other things. My mother-in-law is living in the nursing home in Springhill right now. I’d love to hear from your students if any of them get around to reading it – are you involved in the Hackmatack program? Cheers!

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  17. Trystan Cutts says:

    hi jan i am a student studying “a hare in the elephants trunk” and i need to learn about your cultural, social, political, and economic influences on the story. i just have 1 question? what really inspired you to write the story.

    • janlcoates says:

      Hey, Trystan: Thanks for getting in touch. Have you read the interviews at the back of the book? I think they might help answer that question, but the short answer is that I wrote a 400-word article about Jacob for the Acadia University Alumni Bulletin (he was a student there at that time). While interviewing him for that article, we spent two hours together, and I walked out of the coffee shop determined to do something to help his efforts in South Sudan. He’s an incredible person and has since built a school in South Sudan; he’s currently working in South Sudan in a government position, despite the fact his wife and three young children remain here in Nova Scotia. Hope that helps!

      • Trystan Cutts says:

        wow! you actually replied haha, being a big author I wasn’t expecting you too, thank you. this helped alot and i now have an idea of what inspired you.

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  19. Claire says:

    Hi I’m doing a project about A Hare in the Elephants Trunk mixed with the Southern Sudan Civil War for my world cultures class. I was wondering if you have any videos or information I can show the class about Jacob, the book, or the war. Any information you may have would be great!

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