My third published novel, Yours Truly, 2095, turned four years old this month. I can't believe it has been four full years now since its been published, 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 awakens in the year 2095 with a robot for a wife, not knowing how he got there, and trying to return 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 song so I could write an outline and find enough story arcs, plot lines, and character developments within the lyrics to where I felt comfortable writing a 90k-word novel based around a 16-track album that clocks in at approximately 55 minutes long.
Writing the novel during the four years I lived in Japan (2011-2015), I initially approached it as a Michael Crichton-style sci-fi story; I wanted the technology to be so steeped in science fact that the reader would never be required to suspend their disbelief (even when the characters have to travel to the moon). I really wanted an organic-feeling story that didn't have whirling time machines and far-fetched technology. 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 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 my editor had submitted the book's final draft, I had a novel anyone could read. My biggest concern while writing was that people who had never heard of Electric Light Orchestra wouldn't even try to read the book. Why should they? Especially if its a novelization of an album they'd never heard? 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, 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 who 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 it into a novel that stayed true to the tone and storyline of Time.
Yours Truly, 2095 was suggested for a Hugo Award in 2016, however, it did not make the finalists.