For #TBT: Let’s go back in time to 2006. Erica and I were enduring our evening commute. While sitting at a stop light, I popped in the second disc of NIN’s The Fragile (because we still used CDs back in “the Aughts”). The first track—this song—began to play.

Erica knew I was working on a story but she didn’t know what it was about. I kept it a secret from her, mainly because I wanted it to be a surprise. ALT was, in some ways, my attempt at an apology for being a difficult person to live with. We were poor and constantly argued about money. I was depressed, moody, and I hated my job. I was struggling to find a way to balance doing what I love with the day to day 9-to-5 bullshit.

This song—and many others—got me through that time in my life. More importantly, it pushed me toward completing ALT’s first draft.

When the song finished, I started it over. Erica smirked and said, “Is this your new story’s theme song?”

I didn’t have an answer for her back then. Yesterday, while working on the third Monochrome novel, I had an epiphany: this month marks nine years since I started the first book. The catalyst of this epiphany was a bit of dialogue used by our old friend Mr. Dullington: “The way out is through.”

Nine years later, I can finally answer Erica’s question: “Yes it is.”