I am honored to have young adult author, Ethan Coffee, join me today in an interview and review for his novel, Fables of the Flag. This story follows in the footsteps of classic YA mystery tales for younger teen boys, such as The Hardy Boys. However, it does so with a historical twist that mixes modern characters with those of the colonial age in a series of tales that bring founding fathers and mystery together in one suspenseful story.
It is just another 8th grade school trip to Washington D.C. for young Jack Preston. Or is it? A curious kid, Jack finds himself touring a hidden treasure trove of American artifacts one minute, and ends up transported to colonial America the next. Everything he knows, from cars and cell phones, to computers and even blue jeans, are now foreign and unknown in this world.
Luckily, Jack is befriended by a young Benjamin Franklin and his gang, an inquisitive group of young boys who are as responsible with their family printing business as they are with discovering important things like… electricity. When a diabolical plan is hatched by a insider bad guy that could put Franklin Printing out of business, Jack becomes a part of team that goes in search of answers and ends up with more than anyone ever expected.
The first of a series by Ethan Coffee, Fables of the Flag instantly caught my attention as being something different than the usual YA. First of all, I believe there isn’t enough out there for younger teenage boys to read that spikes the mind with mysterious tales of bravery. This story accomplishes that. Second, there is nothing that I can think of outside of a Kid in King Arthur’s Court (a movie, not a book) that brings history to the future and allows an inquisitive mind like that of Jack Preston to do some good on behalf of our ancestry. Fables hits the mark in this arena. And third, it is just plain great to read a voice that is so authentic that it makes me think of being back in 8th grade, when I was learning about the world (well, I still am!). Refreshing, real, and right-on.
If you have a teenage son (or daughter) in the younger bracket of YA, Fables of the Flag is perfect for their bookshelf (or e-reader). I look forward to reading its followup, Fables of the Flag: The Surveyor’s Tale soon. Until then, please find this great book on Amazon, and read more about author Ethan Coffee on his website.
An Interview With Ethan Coffee
Q: Is writing your life, or do you live to write?
A: It’s 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.
Q: When did you first know you wanted to write?
A: 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 five hundred 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!
Q: What led you to write young adult fiction
A: 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.
Q: How long did it take to write your first book?
A: Fables of the Flag took me almost exactly a year from the time I got 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.
Q: What are you writing now?
A: Right now, I’m working on the third Fables book. Once that’s done, all three will be available separately and as a collection. After that, I’ve got some ideas for a few adult novels that I’d like to work on. I’ve said that after every Fables book though and then I come up with a hook that draws even me back, so in truth, I’ll probably go right to another Fables!