Brian Paone

Author // Musician

Filtering by Tag: Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts

11 Years Today as a Published Author ... And the Wild Ride to Get Here

My career as a novelist would never have happened, or at least to the success that I have had, if one of my best friends hadn’t died in 2005. My friend David, the lead singer of the industrial-rock band God Lives Underwater—who enjoyed some commercial success in the 90s—had been struggling with drug addiction, depression, and the throes of the music business since I met him in 1995. We became fast friends, and I was one of the few people who stuck with him through all his highs and lows.

When he passed away in 2005, I didn’t know where the put my grief. I just couldn’t find a healthy outlet for how I was feeling about losing him. It was suggested to me to write a memoir about our friendship, but in novel format so it would read more like a story than a journal. My wife was the biggest advocate of me using my grief to write my first novel and recall all the good and bad times that come with being close to someone who struggles with addiction and someone who was on major tours, on MTV, and all over the radio. He was a multi-dimensional person, and our friendship was trying and rewarding all at the same time.

Since 1988, I had only written short stories, novelettes, and novellas. I had never attempted a piece of work beyond 30k words long. So, I started writing what would eventually become my first novel, Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts, in January 2006, and it was published in October 2007—on the second anniversary of his death.

And here we are. Eleven years to the day of that first novel being released into the world. What a wild ride it's been. I am a few months from my 5th novel's release, Moonlight City Drive Part 2, and my 5th published short story will be released in the next few months. It's only been over the last three years that I have been dubbed a rock-fiction author (adapting albums or songs into novels or short stories) but my entire eleven-year career has been steeped in music, which is my true love in the world. Between Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts delving into the touring life of bands and the tribulations that world can trap the musicians in and my second novel, Welcome to Parkview, stemming from the idea behind Billy Joel's song, "Piano Man," writing about music has been a part of who I am as an author since Day One.

Over these eleven years, I have met a lot of my heroes and idols in the music world because of my writing, and I have created friendships among band members that I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever make. After I finished Welcome to Parkview in 2010 (which I started in 1991), I honestly thought I only had those two novels in me ... and I was done with writing. Then in 2012, I had a flash of inspiration to try to novelize Electric Light Orchestra's album, Time. The process was so enjoyable and liberating for me as a music fanatic that when Yours Truly, 2095 was released in 2015, I knew I had found my niche in writing, and I knew I didn't want to stop. Since then I have had four short stories published, all adapted from bands' albums or songs (Moby, Jethro Tull, Porcupine Tree, and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers respectively) and my most recent novel, Moonlight City Drive, is another rock-fiction adaptation; this time of Dog Fashion Disco's album, Adultery.

I started writing my first novel on a desktop computer next to my CD collection in my bedroom in an apartment that I shared with two other roommates, to now having my own writing office in my house that I share with my wife and four children. The list of bands and albums I have stored in the back of brain to adapt into rock fiction (either novels or short stories) is so extensive, I will probably die before I reach the bottom of that list. The immediate future of my rock-fiction career includes Pink Floyd, Digital Underground, TheThe, EMF, Thursday, and Jane Jensen.

It's been an amazing eleven years. Here's to continue the inertia of heading upward to the next eleven years...

Transpose's "A Delicate Impact" Turns 11!

My band, Transpose, has an unorthodox beginning. Guitarist Joshua Givens and I started the band in Beverly, MA in 2005. We had written 5 songs before I moved to GA, and when I announced to him that I had to move and leave the band, Joshua decided to move with me, instead of finding a new singer. As soon as we reached GA, we immediately started looking for a bass player and drummer to finish the lineup. Joshua and I attended a concert to see a local band called Ashes of Osiris. Unbeknownst to us, this was Ashes of Osiris' final show. Joshua and I loved their rhythm section, and within 2 months, we had recruited half of Ashes of Osiris to join Transpose to complete the lineup. With Tim Sigler on bass and Jason Bonner on drums, we were ready to roll.

We used the 5 songs that Joshua and I had written in MA as a springboard for the new band, showing the songs to Tim and Jason,and then rewriting them as a "band." All 5 of those songs not only made the debut album, but also became fan favorites at our concerts: "Branches," "The Mourning Crash," "Insect Ways," "Helter Skelter Morning," and "This Rust." Once we perfected the 5 songs that had been brought from MA, we wrote a total of 6 more songs (and 2 covers; God Lives Underwater's "Miss You More Than Anything" and the Team America World Police theme song "America, Fuck Yeah!") to complete the track listing of what would become our debut album: A Delicate Impact.

We recorded the album on the weekends while I was in the police academy in GA. I would spend Monday - Friday at the academy and then Saturday and Sunday in the recording studio, just to do it all over again ... week after week. I also finished writing my first novel, Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts, during the recording process, AND my first child was born. Sept. 2007 was one of the busiest months I have ever lived in my life: graduated from the police academy, finished writing my first novel, recorded Transpose's debut album, had a baby, and Stephanie and I moved into our first house.

The front cover of the album was a real photograph of Joshua's girlfriend in a wedding dress that we bought from a thrift shop, tied up to the railroad tracks. Yes, this was an active rail, and we had to time the picture in-between trains coming through. I even called dispatch to let the police know if they got any weird calls of a girl tied to he tracks, that was me and we were okay.

When the album was released, we sent the first single, "Only the Dead Go Free," to radio stations and never expected the response it received. It was placed in rotation on a lot of stations in FL, and we would have people coming to the shows just to see us play that song. We played constantly to promote the album, touring for almost 2 years straight. Joshua left the band in 2009 and that pretty much ended the A Delicate Impact era. As soon as we inducted our next guitarist, TJ, into the band, that became the first step toward writing Retribution. Even after Josh left the band, we still played 8 of the 13 songs from the album on a consistent basis live. The only songs we retired, and still have never played live since 2009, are: "This Rust," "Pills & Places," "And The Noose Replied," "Insect Ways," and "Breaking Silhouettes."

What a crazy time it was recording this album in between attending a police academy, finishing a novel, having a baby, and buying a house... but if I had to list, in order, my favorite albums that I have ever been a part of (which is now up to 7), this album would certainly still be in the top 3.

My second published novel turns 8, and how it took 19 years to write... Welcome to Parkview:

I published my second novel, Welcome to Parkview, 8 years ago this month. But what a long road it was to get this book in print and released for mass consumption. 19 years from start to finish, to be exact.

I started Welcome to Parkview in 1991. The entire outline for the book was spawned in one night, while I was laying in my bed at 14 years old. I was on a Billy Joel kick and had been overdosing on all his cassettes that month, and there was something about the lyrics and musical overtones of his song "Piano Man" that resonated with me. The fact this 4-minute song could have so many believable characters (and within a single line of lyric, he gave the impression that each of these characters in the bar had an extensive backstory) was so intriguing to me as an aspiring author. I had started writing fiction in 1988 (3 years earlier) and had written around 30 short stories at this point. The thought to even attempt a novel had never crossed my mind ... until I started really thinking about "Piano Man."

Back to the night I was laying in bed: I rolled the lyrics around in my head, singing certain lines which contain specific descriptions of these characters, and my stepfather came home late from work. I heard my mother greet him at the front door, and from my bedroom, I was able to overhear him talk about driving past a local bar in my city that had, according to my stepfather, "something big going on outside because it took forever to drive by the bar." The bar he was talking about? A bar called Sneakers.

It was like the floodgates opened in my head. I heard him say the name of the bar, coupled with the lyrics of "Piano Man" so fresh in my ears, and I just knew there was a novel in there somewhere. I was going to congregate all these random people in a bar and just see what happens. Basically wanting the bar itself to be the main character of the book, and the people all secondary. I started working on my first novel that very next day, at 14 years old.

In the beginning, for the first 13 years I was writing it, the novel was titled A Bar Called Sneakers. It didn't change names until around 2004. But from 1991 - 1997, I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. Hours and hours. Weekends in high school and college, usually spent hanging out with friends, were traded in so I could stay home and write, write, write. I started writing in 1991 with a notebook and pen. Then my mother bought me a manual typewriter. I switched to the typewriter in 1992. Then, for Christmas in 1993, my mother bought me a Brother Word Processor, where I could save my writing on floppy discs.  Around 1997, I didn't quite know where I was going with the novel anymore. I hadn't written a single short story since 1991 -- I had spent 6 years focusing every ounce of writing on the novel. I became discouraged with a stack of over 1,000 printed pages and no clear end in sight. So I shelved it.

In 2002 (5 years after boxing up the novel) I revisited what I had written up to that point and realized that I had forgotten how much I loved the characters and fictional town I had created. I missed all those people and places. I forged onward, and between 2002 and 2008, I finished the novel. It was during this stretch where I changed the name of the novel to what it is now. Taking 5 years off really cleared my head, and I was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel that I couldn't see when I was so far deep into the writing during those first 6 years.

I finished the novel in 2008 at 246,000 words (give or take a few words.) I hired 3 separate editors, and between 2008 and 2010, I worked with these 3 editors vigorously. Keep in mind, by this point, I was already a published author, with my first book Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts being released in 2007 (I wrote that between 2006 - 2007). After Welcome to Parkview went through its 3 full edits, we whittled the 246,000 words to a more manageable 88,000 words. My first editor made me go back and not just edit or revise a lot of what I had written between 1991 - 1997, but physically rewrite a lot of scenes. Heck, they were originally written by a teenager, and if I wanted this to sound like it was written by a professional author, a lot of verbiage and dialogue and narrative needed to be rewritten in an adult's voice. So, that took a few more months. Just to give you an example of how much was cut from the first 246,000 word draft, the first chapter in the published version of the book is around 10,000 words. In the original draft, the first chapter is around 70,000 words.

I will forever call Welcome to Parkview a labor of love. 19 years of my life and 246,000 words later, I was able to present an 88,000 word novel that I am very proud of, and 8 years after publication, seems to still be making an impression on readers.

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