Monday, June 25, 2012

The YA Story That's Anything But a Fable

So much of the young adult fiction world is filled with vampires, fairies, and funky monsters. Not to mention the gritty, edgy contemporary niche that is growing in popularity. Quite often, the authors of these stories are female and so is the audience. But what about teenage boys? This niche is important in the YA world, and capturing the attention of the young male audience is a skill as well as a talent. In this mix of possibilities, a flag has risen.

Ethan Coffee started out like many of us, trying to write the story in his mind, but not having the commitment necessary to complete the job. Thankfully, that changed.

“I had tried my hand at writing many times before finally committing to it a few years ago. I would plot a story and work on it for a while before getting stuck somewhere and just giving up. Eventually, I forced myself to write 500 words a day for a month to see what happened. When the pages started piling up, it was a great feeling and almost a responsibility to see it through. Since then, I haven’t looked back and just like with my reading, I now have a large backlog of stories I want to get through!”

Coffee’s story, Fables of the Flag features Jack Preston, an ordinary kid on his 8th grade trip to Washington DC. Jack finds himself mysteriously transported back in time to 1720 Massachusetts. Finding a world without cars, phones and other conveniences of modern life takes some getting used to, but he's even more surprised to meet a young Founding Father, Ben Franklin.

Being a righteous fellow, Ben befriends the confused and tattered Jack and offers him a place to stay. When Jack overhears a seedy plan that will most certainly ruin Ben's brother's printing business, Jack vows to help find the culprit before it's too late.

From the streets of Colonial Boston, to the cargo hold of a huge galleon, Jack realizes he's on the most bizarre, but important, adventure of his life. As Jack is thrown into a whirlwind of conspiracy, he realizes that much more than a printing company is at stake. An adventure is one thing, but being stuck hundreds of years in the past is quite another.

The driving force behind why Coffee wrote Fables goes back to what he loved to read as a boy.

“I was addicted to books like Goosebumps and The Hardy Boys growing up. My personal record was three in a day, which I thought was an amazing accomplishment. When I was developing the idea for the Fables series, I wanted to have a similar impact on young readers.

“The story also fit a young protagonist better than an adult. A big focus of the series is on meeting historical figures before they go on to make their marks on the world. Jack is the perfect age to interact with these figures just before they go on to enter the world stage.”

It took Coffee almost a year to write Fables from the time he had the initial idea, through to when it was published.

“The final product is immensely different from what I thought it would be when I set out, but I’m incredibly proud of the result and have grown attached to these characters like I never thought possible.

In fact, Coffee is so attached to his Fables characters that he is hard at work on the third Fables book. Once completed, all three will be available separately and as a collection. And while Coffee does have a few ideas for adult novels in his mind, he admits that he finds himself drawn back to writing more Fables. Writing is, for him, about maintaining a good balance.

“You’ve got to live your life and experience things in order to be able to write deeply about anything. At the same time, writing can help the writer to make sense of the world around them, see connections they didn’t notice before and deal with tough times in a way that creates something entirely new. I can’t imagine either locking myself away from the world just to write or walking away from writing for something else.”

Fables of the Flag is available now through Amazon. The second installment, Fables of the Flag: The Surveyor’s Tale, will be released on July 1. Check out Ethan Coffee's website, Facebook Fan Page, Twitter and feel free to email him anytime.

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Reply to Duck, Julie


  1. Fables of the Flag was terrific fun to read. I hope there are many more!

  2. Hey, just checking what Ethan had to say here as I get ready to post an interview for the Freedom to Read hop. I wish I could write that fast.

  3. Glad you enjoyed it Anonymous (if that's your real name!)!

    Thanks Sher,I'm excited for Freedom to Read!