What would you like to tell readers about yourself?
* Brian Paone was born and raised in the Salem, Massachusetts area. 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. He is also a self-proclaimed roller coaster junkie, and his favorite color is burnt-orange.
So, Brian Paone, what/who inspired you to become a writer?
* I think that is a dual answer. It would have been a handful of teachers starting as early as 7th grade up through senior year in high school who encouraged me to write short stories. But it wasn’t until I read my first Stephen King novel, The Dark Half, when I started thinking about long form writing. I tried to write a novel in high school in 1991, which even though I finished at 350 pages, it was terrible, and I went back to strictly short stories again. That’s where I’d stay until 2006, when I wrote what would actually be my first published novel.
When did you attempt your first story? What length was it? What's become of it?
* 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. The story was pretty long, it was about 30 typed pages (from a manual typewriter). I passed it out to all my friends in school and then let me after-school camp friends read it. After that, I never stopped writing. However I only wrote short stories from 1988 to 2005. I wrote probably 100 stories between 1988-2005. You want to hear something sad? Out of all the 100 stories I wrote, I still have 99 of them. Which one is the one that is missing?
Yup. “The Night is Long.” The very first story I ever wrote, is the only one I still don’t have in my possession. I think it got pool water thrown on it, and I watched the pages disintegrate right in front of me. But, I wrote short stories all the way up until 2005 and 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.
How many stories did you complete before you sold your first?
* Well, I never sold any of short stories. The first thing I got traditionally published, was my debut novel in 2007. So it took me writing almost 100 short stories to get to my novel. However, I did have a poem titled “Kite Poem” that made it into the local newspaper in 1993. Also, in 1994, I wrote a short story called “Lima Beans & a Jar of Petals” that won a local writing high-school award.
What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you ever received?
* Best piece of advice: don’t listen to your critics!
* Worst piece of advice: don’t listen to your critics!
The book you’re promoting, is it a stand-alone story or part of a series?
* It is a stand-alone story. The book completes the story arc. However, I have had more than one reader contact me after they were done, and asked if I would consider writing future tales of Jeff & J0 and their adventures in the 1981 and 2095. So maybe it’s something I’ll have to investigate further. I don’t ever want to say, “Never.”
What sparked the idea for the story/series?
* 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.
*** Now for some fun info… ***
Would you/have you own(ed) a snake or some other exotic pet?
* When I was a kid, I used to find garden snails in the backyard of our house. I had an aquarium that I would keep them in, and on Sunday mornings, my mother would make pancakes and I would treat my snails to Sunday breakfast (minus the syrup, of course.) One night my father went to restaurant and had escargot. He asked the waiter if he could have the empty shells to bring home. While I was asleep, he switched out my snails with the empty shells, and when I woke up the next morning, he told me he got hungry and ate my snails while I was sleeping. That was the kind of jester of a father I have.
Which do you prefer: rain or sun & warm weather or cold weather?
* Oh man, I hate the heat. I despise it like a sickness. I would much rather it be cold everyday than hot. Born and raised in Massachusetts, the winter is a part of who I am. If it gets above 80 degrees, I don’t even want to go outside. And, like Shirley Manson in Garbage said, “I’m only happy when it rains…”
If you could live anywhere in the universe, where would it be and why?
* I’m going to answer this in a non-straightforward way. When I die, I do not want to be buried, or cremated, or any other traditional funeral process. There is a company that will jettison your body out into space, and you will float among the stars and planets and galaxies for all eternity. Now THAT’S where I want to be after I’m dead—a part of cosmos. While I’m still alive? I like it fine right down here on earth.
If you were stranded on a desert island and were only allowed to have five modern conveniences with you, what would they be?
* An iPhone with service / my iPod and headphones or a speaker (because my music collection is too large to fit on an iPhone) / pots and pans and cooking utensils / a jetpack / a lamp with a genie in it.
* J0 could be the only key to unlock Jeff's journey home, but it will require her to do something against her programming-something human.
* During Jeff's perilous journey through the future, he will have to discover the truth about J0's origins, and solve the mystery behind how he wound up in 2095, in order to uncover the reality of his own destiny.
* Armed with a one-way ticket to the moon, Jeff must race against the clock to seize what might be his last chance to return home to his time. A time without hover cars, Justice Computers, or TeleSkins-a time over one hundred years ago.
* 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.”
* “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.”
ANNOUNCEMENT! Brian Paone will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour! So be sure to leave your name and email with your comment AND use the Rafflecopter below. Also, visit the other tour stops for a greater chance of winning!
a Rafflecopter giveaway