Brian Paone

Author // Musician

"Yours Truly, 2095" turns two years old!

My third published novel, Yours Truly, 2095, has its second birthday this month. I can't believe that it has been two full years now since its been out, especially since it took me three full years to research, outline, write, and edit.

Starting off as an idea to take one of my favorite albums of all time, Electric Light Orchestra's concept album Time, and try to adapt it into a direct novelization was something I had been tossing around in my head since high school, almost twenty-five years ago. The concept album, which follows a man who wakes up in the year 2095 with a robot for a wife, not knowing how he got there, and trying to get back to his real wife in 1981, had always intrigued me, not only as song lyrics, but as a stand alone storyline.

It took almost nine months to dissect every single lyric so I could write an outline and find enough story arcs, plot lines, and character developments within the words to where I felt comfortable writing a 90k word novel based around a 16-track album that clocks in at around 55 minutes.

Writing the novel during the four years that I lived in Japan, I approached it initially as a Michael Crichton-style sci-fi story; I wanted the technology to be so steeped in science-fact, that there would never need to be a suspension of disbelief from the reader (even when the characters have to go to the moon). I really wanted an organic feeling story that didn't have whirling time machines and technology that seemed far-fetched. What I never expected was that I would wind up with a time-travel romance novel.

Staying true to every single lyric of the Time album (heck, even the front cover of the book is an adaptation of the front cover art of the album), I found I had a lot of holes that needed to be filled in with my own literary license. Even though it IS a concept album, it's not as concrete as, say, Pink Floyd's The Wall or The Who's Tommy, where there is no mistaking what is happening, what everyone is thinking, and what everyone is saying.

I realized, after the book's final draft was approved, was I had a novel (even though it IS a direct and perfect adaptation of a band's album) that anyone, and I mean ANYONE, could read. My biggest concern (and also some friends when I told them what I was working on) was that people who didn't know who Electric Light Orchestra was, wouldn't even TRY to read the book. Why should they? Especially If its a novelization of an album they'd never heard of? But I was able to write a straight forward time-travel romance novel that works twofold: 1) if you are an Electric Light Orchestra fan, you will "see the storyline" of the Time album in every piece of action and dialogue ... or 2) if you have no idea who Electric Light Orchestra is, this book is a stand-alone time-travel romance novel full of mystery and action and suspense. You do not need to know ANYTHING about the source material to enjoy the book or for it to make sense. In fact, most of the positive reviews I have received are from people that only found out AFTERWARD that the book is based on an album. And the positive reviews from Electric Light Orchestra fans have applauded me for taking a revered album and turning into a novel that stayed true to the tone and storyline of Time.

Yours Truly, 2095 was nominated for a Hugo Award in 2016, however, it did not make the finalists. It is my first, true, rock-fiction novel or story I have ever published (Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts is ABOUT the band God Lives Underwater's music, and Welcome to Parkview is heavily inspired by Billy Joel's song "Piano Man," but neither are an actual adaptation like this is). This also proved to me that I COULD produce a worthy rock-fiction novel, which then lead me to write and publish an apocalyptic-rapture short-story adaptation of Moby's song "Spiders" ("Outside of Heaven"), a modern mythological-romance short-story adaptation of Jethro Tull's album Rock Island ("The Whaler's Dues"), and a dramatic ghost short-story adaptation of Porcupine Tree's album Fear of a Blank Planet ("Anesthetize or a Dream Played in Reverse on Piano Keys"). Later this year my next novel will be released: a novelization of Dog Fashion Disco's album Adultery.

Photoshoot for upcoming 2018 dependent-military novel

I guess you could say I am working on 2 novels right now concurrently... even though I won't start the physical writing of the second one until the one I'm writing now (the supernatural, crime-noir, pulp-thriller detective novel) is finished and edited. The detective novel (an adaptation of Dog Fashion Disco's concept album "Adultery") is my 2017 release. But my 2018 release...

... is a comedic-military novel about the eight months my wife was deployed to Djibouti, Africa, in 2010 and left me home alone with two toddlers, and the learning curve and craziness that ensued during those months. Every night I would send her an email reviewing that day's shenanigans(subject line always "The Nightly News"). The main composition of the book will be centered around the content of those emails, using the first-hand account of what I went through while she was gone. (Think Mr. Mom). Basically I got to the point where my motto was: "If both kids are still alive and the house didn't burn down, it was a good day."

I'll go more into the details of the book as I get closer to the actual writing, but so far I have printed out all 750 pages of emails and gone through each one again, highlighted the moments that I want to be in the book. And the photoshoot has happened.

We shot the front cover of the novel (which is basically a destruction shot of my living room, recreating an exaggerated abandoned breakfast) and the author photo for the back cover. Why did we already shoot the front cover and my author photo of this book isn't being released until sometimes in 2018? Because I was dead-set on having photographer Paul Nimmo handle all the photography for this novel. Paul lives in the same county as me and is moving out of state in July. I knew he was the only one that I wanted to helm the direction of the novel's cover so I needed to snag him before July.

He spent 3 hours getting the perfect shot of a destroyed dining room table, and I think his talent is really going to help elevate the book's overall quality when its published next year.

...more on this upcoming novel later, but first.... back to helping a detective chase a killer through the desert...

when the band you are adapting, gives you a shout-out on stage...

So it was officially announced last week that work has begun on my next novel (my 4th). It's a supernatural crime-noir thriller (think Dick Tracy meets Jacob's Ladder meets American Psycho). But, as a rock fiction author, there is obviously some music attached to this next disasterpiece. It's a novelization of Dog Fashion Disco's concept album, "Adultery."

That album takes the listener on a chaotic, jarring, and almost hypnotic spin through one detective's obsession with catching a killer. A killer who specializes in cleaning the streets of prostitutes ... after he's had his way with them first, of course.

At the beginning of the month, I drove from North Carolina to Baltimore to attend the CD release party of Dog Fashion Disco's album, "Erotic Massage" (this album has nothing to do with my novel, but it was the reason why they were playing a show). This concert was only 1 of 3 shows the band is playing in all of 2017. The other 2 are in Cleveland, and I can't get out there for them, so Baltimore it is!

I had VIP treatment at the club; all the VIPs were allowed inside 2 hours before doors opened to watch soundcheck and hang out with the band etc. Since Jasan (the guitarist) and Todd (the singer) had green-lighted the book to be written a few months ago, we hadn't really discussed it further. Mostly because I was outlining and still trying to figure out how I wanted to approach turning the album into a novel, from a creative standpoint.

I was able to discuss my outline, what I have written so far, and my plans for what's to come with Jasan, and he was very receptive and seemed genuinely excited to read what I'm coming up with so far. But it was during the show where the greatest endorsement from the band came.

In between 2 songs, Todd asked the crowd if they knew there was a novel being written for "Adultery." Many attendees clapped and cheered, acknowledging that they were aware. Then Todd told the crowd that the author was here in the audience, called my name, asked where I was, and I was hoisted into the air by other people around me as I tried to wave to the crowd.

The whole moment took maybe 15 seconds. But its the little breadcrumbs that are dropped during the journey of adapting an album into a novel, that can really make everything click. I don't know what else could top, as a rock fiction author, than having the band I am adapting, themselves, endorse and give a shout-out to me, on stage, in front of a few hundred people. It shows their faith in turning over what might be their most fan-loved album to me, to try to turn its sung story into some form of cohesive narrative.

I have had some really cool experiences since becoming a published author 10 years ago in 2007. Some of them are directly related to being a rock fiction author, where members of bands have reached out to me, and I've connected and networked with some "celebrities" because of my novels and stories being adapted from pieces of music. But having Dog Fashion Disco take time to highlight me on stage, at a show that was all about them and their accomplishment of making it to their 20 year anniversary and celebrating a new release, definitely is high on the list of "magical moments" for me as a rock fiction author.


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