Fire in the Field

In sixteen stories, John Young’s memorable characters face ethical dilemmas that compel us to ask what shapes us. Education? Talent? Impulse? Family? Money? Need for approval? Most of the stories are set in the fictional town of Nema, Indiana, others in New England. A once-honest antique dealer teaches himself to craft high-quality fakes. A struggling minister in an affluent community absurdly obsesses over his giant pumpkin. Young’s protagonists range from observant nine-year-olds to hyper-competitive teens, from working-class dreamers to privileged executives rationalizing compromises. A few face public humiliation, a few die, others reinvent themselves. In two of the strongest stories, young women face painful life-and-death decisions, with uncertain but revelatory conclusions. As one critic wrote: “The stories are well plotted and engrossing, the characters interesting, and the writing stunning.”

Fire in the Field

In sixteen stories, John Young’s memorable characters face ethical dilemmas that compel us to ask what shapes us. Education? Talent? Impulse? Family? Money? Need for approval? Most of the stories are set in the fictional town of Nema, Indiana, others in New England. A once-honest antique dealer teaches himself to craft high-quality fakes. A struggling minister in an affluent community absurdly obsesses over his giant pumpkin. Young’s protagonists range from observant nine-year-olds to hyper-competitive teens, from working-class dreamers to privileged executives rationalizing compromises. A few face public humiliation, a few die, others reinvent themselves. In two of the strongest stories, young women face painful life-and-death decisions, with uncertain but revelatory conclusions. As one critic wrote: “The stories are well plotted and engrossing, the characters interesting, and the writing stunning.”

Order Fire in the Field Today

Order now from one of these online bookstores below – or from your local bookstore!

Praise for Fire in the Field:

An elegant, wry, wise, witty collection that deserves a place among the best work being produced today. Young is a writer who knows his craft and deserves the attention of a wide audience.

Patricia Averbach

Author of the novel "Resurrecting Rain"

As one story progresses to the next, Young’s deceptively simple voice evolves, and the stories deepen shockingly—as if fate has caught us, and Young himself, in the best hopes of literature. 

Frederick Dillen

Author of the novels "Hero", "Fool", and "Beauty"

What sets these exquisitely crafted stories apart is John Young’s keen sense of place and his ability to make you feel you are there. Not just physical places, but states of mind too.

Don Tassone

Author of the novel "Francesca"

I said Let me read a few minutes of these stories before I start dinner. At midnight I was still crying, laughing, and fond of Young’s ability to take me with him. Unique turns of phrase add as much impact as his uncanny understanding of who we are.

Connie Shaklis

The Bloomington Herald-Times

When the Coin in the Air

Like most boys, Jason Blake wants to please his father and older brother. But this erratic father and hyper-competitive brother challenge beyond the norm. To find his way, Jason tries on different roles: schoolyard bully, football player, actor, student. At 20 Jason escapes his Midwest home and seeks independence and adventure: first to Cape Cod, later in Europe. Each adventure takes Jason farther from his father and brother. Each brings him closer to finding himself. When he returns home, the world as he knew it explodes and Jason risks all to protect his mother from his violent father. The dramatic and unforgettable course of events changes the lives in this family forever. And they promise to change the reader too.

When the Coin is in the Air

Like most boys, Jason Blake wants to please his father and older brother. But this erratic father and hyper-competitive brother challenge beyond the norm. To find his way, Jason tries on different roles: schoolyard bully, football player, actor, student. At 20 Jason escapes his Midwest home and seeks independence and adventure: first to Cape Cod, later in Europe. Each adventure takes Jason farther from his father and brother. Each brings him closer to finding himself. When he returns home, the world as he knew it explodes and Jason risks all to protect his mother from his violent father. The dramatic and unforgettable course of events changes the lives in this family forever. And they promise to change the reader too.

Order When the Coin is in the Air Today

Order now from one of these online bookstores below – or from your local bookstore!

Praise for When the Coin is in the Air :

“It is a rare coming-of-age-novel that strikes an elegiac tone—the trembling anticipation of youth, a decidedly modern hero’s journey, in combination with a grief-struck plunge into conscience—but John Young pulls it off. This novel, like its main character, makes its way from early promise to settled accomplishment, from a staggering opening to a quiet self-acceptance that seems wholly earned—and leaves a reader grateful.”

James Carroll

National Book Award Winner and author of The Cloister

“I loved John Young’s wise and moving novel. A young man is forced to navigate the difficult choices of early adulthood while protecting his own life and his mother’s from a violent, abusive father. Reminiscent of the novels of Pat Conroy, When the Coin is in the Air explores the complexities of the pull between duty and self-determination, tempered by love.”

Susan Neville

author of Invention of Flight and The House of Blue Lights

“John Young’s debut novel—beautifully written and imaginatively structured—is a very moving story in which he has the tone pitch-perfect. It’s hard to write about ‘I love you’ versus ‘I’ll kill you’ when the characters are intimates. Yet, there it is on page 207, that scene will be indelible in my mind.”

John Skoyles

Author of Drive and The Nut File

When the Coin is in the Air is a riveting story of adversity, destruction and transcendence. John Young weaves a gritty but ultimately uplifting tale, sure to speak to anyone who has wrestled with demons. From the start, Young’s debut novel will grab you, and it won’t let you go.”

Don Tassone

author of Drive

“An abusive father keeps his son—and the reader—in suspense in When the Coin is in the Air, a well-told coming -of age tale.”

Dan Wakefield

author of Going All The Way and New York in the Fifties

“I loved John Young’s wise and moving novel. A young man is forced to navigate the difficult choices of early adulthood while protecting his own life and his mother’s from a violent, abusive father. Reminiscent of the novels of Pat Conroy, When the Coin is in the Air explores the complexities of the pull between duty and self-determination, tempered by love.”

Susan Neville

author of Invention of Flight and The House of Blue Lights

What’s next?     John is excited that his second novel, and third book, Getting Huge, was selected for publication by Guernica Editions, one of the top independent publishers in Canada with international distribution. It’s a semi-comic, literary novel about Reverend John Crackstone’s career crisis and how it leads him to try to grow the world’s largest pumpkin. First sentence: “My deacons saw Easter as a business opportunity.” And so begins a broken hero’s journey…    John is also hard at work on a third novel.

About John

Born and raised beyond the suburbs in Indianapolis, John Young graduated from Indiana University and earned an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College. His fiction appeared in Yankee and his non-fiction has appeared in several magazines.
Young also taught English at the high school and college levels and spent many years in advertising as a copywriter and creative director mostly in Boston. He and his teams won more than 250 awards for creative excellence.
He spent 20 years in Beverly, Mass. and now lives with his wife and two kids in Cincinnati, Ohio.