UNO student publishes first novel, “Atlas”

Photo courtesy Amazon

Ashley Quintella

A sense of relief washed over Ethan Free after holding the book in his hands for the first time. It wasn’t a book he decided to read in between his busy class schedule, but a book that has his name bolded on the cover—E.J. Free.

“I’ve always loved writing, and I’ve always loved superheroes,” Free said. “I wrote ‘Atlas’ to combine the two into one.”

The story focuses on the main character Sam Skylar, who is trying to live his own life. However, the destruction sucks him back into a world of politics, distrust, limits and agendas. After attacks began, Sam relies on his powers to save him.

In a lot of ways, he’s an amalgamation of me and my father,” Free said. “His story is really one about finding who he is and where he belongs, which is something I went through as I wrote the book, but he’s also the guy I’d really like to be.”

The eBook was released early August and about a month later, the paperback was released. Not only is Free the author the book, but also the designer of the cover.

“I actually finished the final draft a year to the day after I started,” he said.

However, the characters had been occupying his mind years prior to the writing process. Persistence and dedication drove him to finish the novel.

“The hardest part was definitely just finishing it. Eighty-thousand words is a lot to write, and there were quite a few times when other things in my life threatened to overtake the project and make me drop it,” he said.

Free is currently a student at UNO where he studies journalism and media communications with a minor in anthropology.

“I always make sure to put homework first. Novel writing is, for now at least, just a hobby,” Free said. “It’s a lot more productive than playing video games, I can tell you that.”

Free published his novel through Amazon. The company has a program called “Kindle Direct Publishing” that allows independent authors to put their books on Kindle for free.

Recently, Amazon piloted a paper-back publishing option of which Free took full advantage.

“Atlas” can be found on Amazon for $14.95 a well as on Kindle free of charge.

About 70 copies have sold on Amazon. Luckily for Free, he has received not only feedback, but support.

“It’s all been a lot of positive stuff. People have asked when I’m going to write the next one,” Free said. “My family has all been super supportive throughout, especially my dad. It’s been a real blessing having him in my corner.”

In honor of National Novel Writing Month, he is working on a sequel.

“I’ve also got a few other ideas on the back burner for when that’s done, so yeah, I definitely plan on putting more out there,” he said.

Throughout the process, Free learned lessons that have inspired him to continue with his passion of writing.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself, who I am, and who I want to be. I’ve learned a healthy dose of dedication, and my writing has definitely come a long way since then,” Free said. “I’ve also learned that I really love writing novels.”