“To all the dreamers out there on spaceship Earth, anything is possible.” That’s how the dedication at the beginning of Tom DeLonge’s new novel, Poet Anderson …Of Nightmares reads. If anyone dreams big and puts those dreams into action, it is DeLonge, the former Blink-182 vocalist and guitarist, who fronts his longtime band Angels and Airwaves and heads To The Stars, a multimedia production company, in addition to picking up the pen in a different format.
The Poet Anderson franchise — which is planned as a trilogy — began as a series of comic books before it morphed into an animated short film, Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker, which won Best Animated Film at the Toronto International Short Film Festival. On the music end, DeLonge released Angels and Airwaves’ latest full-length, The Dream Walker, last year, and the band’s recent Of Nightmares EP. Coinciding with the book’s release, DeLonge directed a live action short film starring Tyler Posey from MTV’s Teen Wolf. He’s extraordinarily busy with these interrelated pursuits, and bigger things — like musical and a full-length feature film — await on the horizon.
The seeds of Poet Anderson first came to DeLonge ten years ago. “I was in Paris staying in a very chic hotel,” he tells the Village Voice. “I was looking out the window and began picturing a character living there and imagined what he did and what he stood for. Then a while later I saw a documentary on nightmares produced by Stanford University. It said that nightmares prepare you for real life events. That really interested me and eventually this began to take shape.”
DeLonge is calling in from Colorado Springs at a very un-rock ‘n’ roll 9 a.m. He points out that the city is the home of the U.S. Air Force Space Command, which he says is why he’s there — but it’s nothing to do with Poet Anderson business. Astoundingly, given the projects spun around that, DeLonge has more creative fish to fry: “It’s for a historical fiction franchise project, but I’m not talking about it right now,” he says curtly.
“With my company, To The Stars, I’ve always been interested in telling stories, whether its comics, novels, animated film, or a regular film. The first thing with this project was animation,” he says of Poet Anderson, “but a book was always part of the plan.”
Poet Anderson …Of Nightmares is the story of two orphaned teen brothers who are lucid dreamers, and blends elements of Harry Potter, Blade Runner, and Minority Report. While it is directed at the young adult market, as the likes of Potter and Co. have proven, interest in heroes and fantasy is ageless. Still, DeLonge brought in best-selling author Suzanne Young (The Treatment) to co-write because of her pull in the YA world. “She is very aware of the young adult market and what they’re looking for, what drives them,” he says. “Also, her work leans towards psychological thriller. Because this kid is having problems discerning the real world from the dream world there had to be this strong cerebral element.”
DeLonge has already partnered with a major studio for the film, he says. Though he’d like to direct, he understands a proven name is more likely to get the gig. (“I’d like [to direct[ it if [the studio] thought I’m the best one to direct it, but it doesn’t matter if not.”) At the top of his wish list for collaborators are Christopher Nolan, JJ Abrams, and Ridley Scott. “They’re all so busy with the stuff they have going on already, but the ideal tone for the director lives within the three of them.” The script, he says, will combine the comic books, to add backstory, and the novel, and he hopes the film will be in theaters within a couple of years.
After his covert stay in Colorado, DeLonge has a handful of book signings and events on the West Coast and in the Midwest, but he says he won’t be in New York until his next project comes around. That might be quite soon: his next book is a children’s story set for a Christmas release. He won’t divulge any information on that beyond that it’s “It’s R-rated.” “I wrote it and it’s a children’s book, but I don’t want my children to read it,” he adds, laughing.
DeLonge admits Poet Anderson is inspiring him on a musical level, too, and as soon as next year, he plans to have a Poet Anderson musical production on the stage in time for Angels and Airwaves’ tenth anniversary. “I want to do something special in the first part of next year. I do know the touring aspect will happen; it’s important to celebrate with the fans. It’s very ambitious and is much more of a reason to go on tour than just celebrating being together ten years.”
He describes the production as one that’s “Immersive, technological, augmented, with geo-mapping, and with acrobats.”
Could he see himself pulling a Bono/Sting/Green Day and bringing Poet Anderson to Broadway? “No,” he scoffs. “This is an arena rock ‘n’ roll show. Who wants to see rock ‘n’ roll on Broadway? That’s like putting a gun range in a library. Rock ‘n’ roll is too big for Broadway.”
Tom Delonge’s Poet Anderson …Of Nightmares was released on October 6 via To The Stars and can be found on the shelves of a bookstore near you.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 8, 2015