Friday, October 30, 2015

Interview about sci-fi Yours Truly, 2095 by Brian Paone

Today’s feature is an interview with Brian Paone about his sci-fi novel, Yours Truly, 2095.

During his virtual book tour, Brian will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too.

A little bit about the author:
Brian Paone was born and raised in the Salem, Massachusetts area. An award winning author, his love of writing began through the medium of short stories at the young age of twelve. After almost 20 years of consistently writing short stories for only his friends and family to read, Brian’s first full-length novel, a personal memoir about his friendship with a rock-star drug addict entitled, “Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts,” was published in 2007. Brian’s second novel, “Welcome to Parkview,” was published in 2010 and is a macabre journey through a cerebral-horror landscape. Brian’s latest novel, “Yours Truly, 2095,” was published in 2015 and follows a man who wakes up one morning, trapped in the future, to discover he’s been the victim of a time-travel conspiracy. Brian is married and has 3 children. Brian’s wife is an Officer in the US Navy. He is also a self-proclaimed roller coaster junkie, and his favorite color is burnt-orange.

Welcome Brian. Please tell us about your current release.
The book is billed as a time-travel romance mystery, because on the surface, that’s what it is. But what you don’t know, until you start reading, is that the main character isn’t who you thought it was during the first 150 pages. Its only in the last 200 pages that you realize that the main character is someone else, and the book is less about time-travel and more about artificial intelligence being able to develop a soul and free will. We all love the M. Knight Shyamalan plot-twist as much as the next guy, but my plot twist happens so slowly, that you don’t realize that I’ve pulled a classic plot twist on you until you reach the end of the book. That was the hardest part of writing the book… trying to get that just right for the reader, so the shift in focus felt natural and the reader didn’t realize that they were actually empathizing with the wrong character right from the beginning.

What inspired you to write this book?
One of my favorite albums of all time, is Electric Light Orchestra’s 1981 concept album, Time. Somewhere in my late teens / early twenties, I thought that the storyline of the Time album should be flushed out either as a novel or a movie. I knew, at the time, that I was nowhere NEAR talented enough yet to take on such a task as writing the adaptation of the album. After publishing two novels, one in 2007 and the other in 2010, I believed that I was ready to tackle turning the plotline and story-arc of ELO’s Time album into a full length novel. 

I began working on the outline in February 2012, and the first step was to take the lyrics of all 16 songs, and dissect their meaning (both literally and figuratively) and put together a cohesive linear storyline. I wanted to do what The Who’s Tommy, and Pink Floyd’s The Wall movies did for those albums… but just in novel format. The Time album has a very concrete characters and storyline (as does The Wall and Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway) but there is enough unsung moments in the progression of the story, that I knew I had to fill in the gaps of the lyrics with my own literary license. In the lyrics we are told, flat-out, that the main character (Jeff) is from the 1980’s and wakes up in 2095, with no idea or explanation how he got there, that there is a woman who is a perfect robotic replica of his wife (Julie) from the 80’s, he wants nothing more to return to his wife but there is some issued that need to be resolved in their marriage, that he takes a one way trip to the Moon to find his way back, and there are multiple new organizations controlling the world’s power. 

These are very specific lyrics that move the album forward. After pulling out the lyrics that could not be disputed, I then went through line by line and interpreted the lyrics that could be left up to the imagination of the listener of what the lyrics meant, and how I was going to make it a concrete part of my book. For instance, there is a lyric in the album that says: “Someone has broken out of Satellite Two, look very carefully it might be you!” That was pretty ambiguous inside the song, so I had to make a decision to what exactly Satellite Two even WAS, who the “someone” was, why it might be a clone of someone else… and then I had to try to make it work inside the storyline around it. The album is 16 tracks, and just shy of 50 minutes in length. The book took me almost 40 months to write because I wanted to stay as true to every single word on the album that I could. Also, and this is the most important part, you do NOT need to have ever heard a single song by Electric Light Orchestra to enjoy the book or follow along with the plotline. In fact, I have sold the book to more non-ELO fans than I have fans of the band. So I don’t want that the book is based on a concept that you may have never heard, to scare you away. It is a stand-alone story about time travel, robot AI, and redeeming a love through the years.


Excerpt from Yours Truly, 2095:
 “Are you okay?” Julie asked through the window.

I was surprised I could hear her.

“Yes! Can you let me out?”

I was expecting her to answer with something snide and sarcastic, but she didn’t say anything at all. She just disappeared from my view. I leaned forward in the chamber so I could see where she went. Julie was standing in front of one of the computers typing on the keyboard very quickly. After a few moments I heard a hiss, and the cover swung open. I felt like a rising vampire as I stood up and stepped out of the pod.

I almost fell backward into the chamber when she turned around. Julie was missing half of her face. Where the left side of her face should’ve been was only wires and metal.

“This isn’t a dream, is it?” I asked cautiously.

“No. I’m sorry, Jeff, and it only gets worse.”

“J0?”

“Who else?” J0 asked. She turned back to the computer and typed in some more commands. The hydraulics of another seclusion chamber hissed as its cover opened.

“Oh, no,” I said quietly and covered my mouth with my hand.

Bruce’s mouth and eyes were unnaturally stuck open.

I knew he was dead before I even asked. “Is he—?”

“I’m pretty sure. I already called the police. We’re going to meet them out front to let them in. They should be here in a few minutes.”

I took a step toward him.

“Don’t touch him!” she yelled.

I stopped in my tracks.

“Whoever did this was trying to kill both of you.”

What exciting story are you working on next?
I will begin outlining my 4th book in a few months. Tentatively untitled, it’s going to be a comedic-military novel, almost in the style of the film Mr. Mom with Michael Keaton. This will be about the true adventures I had when my wife, who is an Officer in the Navy, left me alone with our two toddlers when she got deployed for 8 months, and the learning curve and craziness that ensued during those months. I’m hoping to have a 2017 release schedule for that. I also have a short story coming out in October in an anthology of authors from all over the world called, A Matter of Words.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In the 7th grade. I wrote my first fictional short story called, “The Night is Long.” It wasn’t part of some homework assignment, or in-class exercise. I wrote the story over the weekend, purely because I loved to read and wanted to write something that was my own. After that, I never stopped writing. However I only wrote short stories from 1988 to 2005. It was then that I began work on my first novel. 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, who was 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 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 recant 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. 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. The book sold above and beyond anyone’s expectations, and that’s how I stopped writing short stories and focused on writing novels.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’ve published 3 novels, and my typical day during the writing of each book was totally different from each other. When I was writing my first book, Dreams Are Unfinished Thoughts, I was in the middle of moving from MA to GA, changing police departments, and recording an album with my band, Transpose. So a typical day would be: get everything done first for the move, switching jobs, the recording studio, and whatever time was left at night: work on the book. We also didn’t have any kids yet.

With my second novel, Welcome to Parkview, my wife had been deployed to Djibouti and I was working full time at the police department in GA, and we had 2 kids now. So I was alone without my wife, with 2 toddlers, and working full time. The My day would be: get the kids to day-care, go work fighting crime for 8 hours, pick the kids up and do whatever household chores I had to do (laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping etc.), feed the kids dinner and put them to bed around 6:30, then I would work out for an hour, and then I would work on Welcome to Parkview after I showered until whenever I passed out at my laptop.

With Yours Truly. 2095, the Navy had sent us to Japan for the next 4 years. I had to take a leave of absence at the police department, and we moved the family there. I did not get a job right away, as my wife wanted me to be the stay at home parent during our time in Japan (I did eventually become a Criminal Justice professor for the college on base, but that’s irrelevant to the book.) We moved in November, 2011 and by January, 2012 I was itching to write. For the first time, I had the TIME to write, and not having to worry about a new job, moving, or wiping poopy diapers. So, in February, 2012, I started my outline, and writing the book was my full-time job for a while. We sent out 2 kids to Japanese Kindergarten (called a Yochien in Japan) and they were gone Monday through Friday from 9:00 to 4:00. I would bring them to the bus stop, wave goodbye, go back up into our apartment, and write until the bus brought them back. It was the first time I could write without distractions, and the first time I was writing not being dead-tired at night after putting in a full day.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I have to listen to music when I write. But I’m very specific. I have to pick a single band on my iPod, click Shuffle All of all their songs, and have that playing. I can’t have a playlist of random bands. It has to be one specific band during that writing session. And most of the time, the band’s music will help mold the tone and atmosphere of the scene I am writing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Keifer Sutherland in Flatliners….

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Yours Truly, 2095 might be inspired and based on a concept album from the 80s, but it is every bit my own creation as it is developed from those lyrics. Even though it is a time-travel story on the surface, I believe that it is a romance novel about a couple’s redemption at its core. The book may take place in the distance future, but all the conflicts are struggles that we deal with in our relationships in our everyday lives in the here and now. I believe that this book can be enjoyed just as equally by fans of straight up science-fiction time-travel stories, as well as fans of romance mysteries. The science-fiction jargon is not crammed in your face, nor is the romance angle shoved down your throat either. It’s a nice blend of both, allowing the story to ebb and flow on its own, as Jeff slowly figures out what is truth and what is a lie.

Links:

Thanks for being here today, Brian!

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9 comments:

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thank you for hosting today.

Mai T. said...

Who was your favorite teacher in school and why?

Rita said...

I liked the interview.

Eva Millien said...

Enjoyed the interview and excerpt, sounds like a great book, thanks for sharing!

Brian Paone said...

Thank you for having me!

Victoria Alexander said...

Great post - thanks for sharing!

Ally Swanson said...

Excellent interview! This book sounds very interesting! I have added it to my TBR list and look forward to checking it out!

Teresa Noel said...

I love the post. Sounds like a great book.

Ree Dee said...

I enjoyed the interview and the excerpt. Thank you for sharing.