Tim Young loves Lawrence High School football and spy thrillers. So when he decided to write a novel, Young wondered, on which should he focus?

“I wasn’t sure which book I wanted to write,” Young said. “So I said, ‘Why not both?'”

Young’s debut novel, the self-published “Legend,” was released this past spring. The book’s protaganist, Joe Blackstone, is a former Lawrence football standout who takes the longest and most harrowing path to professional football imaginable. It’s completely over the top, but it’s fun, too.

“I kept saying ‘I’m going to write a book, I’m going to write a book.’ And it never happens,” Young, a 1989 graduate of Lawrence High, said.

Finally, Young sat dwon at his keyboard and gave it a go, and learned what every writer learns. It’s not easy. Young estimated he spent 500 hours writing Legend, and at least double that editing the book.

Young drew inspiration from the works of Tom Clancy, Stephen Cannell, and Ben Coes, whose terrorist-busting hero Dewey Andreas is a Castine native. Young lived in Castine when he attended Maine Maritime Academy. Young took a little from those influences, combined them with his admiration for the movie “The Natural,” an epic about an aging baseball player getting the chance at stardom that was tragically taken from him.

Legend started as a short story Young wrote in junior high school.

“My teacher hated it,” he said.

Fans of Lawrence will recognize many of the names in the book. Pete Cooper, who coached Lawrence for years, is the head coach of the Bulldogs. Mike Mealey, is the head coach of Blackstone’s professional team. When Blackstone makes it to the pros, one of his teammates is running back Kirk Mathieu. A high school teammate of Young’s with the Bulldogs, Mathieu won the Fitzpatrick Trophy as the state’s top high school football player in 1988. Longtime fans of University of Maine football will recognize Dwayne Wilmot. A standout wide receiver for the Black Bears, Wilmot graduated in 2001. Not only is he Young’s brother-in-law, Wilmot is a receiver on Blackstone’s pro team and quickly becomes Blackstone’s best friend on the team.

Reaction by the real-life inspiration of the book’s characters has been positive, Young said. The only person Young did not speak with directly was Cooper, his coach at Lawrence.

“I reached out to Kevin (Cooper’s son) and said it’s a way of saying thanks. Even today, I use something that man taught me every day,” Young, who lives in the Philadelphia area, said. “Mike Mealey was honored. He liked that the ‘Dogs win.”

One game Lawrence wins in the book plays out almost exactly as a similar game did in real life, a come-from-behind playoff win over Cony in the early ’90s. Young also has fun with old rivalries. A player on anopposing team who hits Blackstone with a cheap shot is named Winslow.

“My guess is I don’t have many fans over there,” Young said.

Reviews for “Legend” on Amazon are positive, although Young said most were written by friends. Still, he’s happy to see the book well-received. Young is working on a sequel. The next book will have less football and more action, highlighting the thriller aspects from “Legend.” Blackstone will learn his actions in “Legend” have consequences, Young said.

“They’ll be lots of dead people in this one,” Young said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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