Q&A: Andy Frye releases ‘Ninety Days in the 90s,’ a novel about traveling back to the ’90s in Chicago


Illustration by Olivia Abeyta

Andy Frye holds his book “Ninety Days in the 90s” about the Chicago scene in the 1990s.

Camille Haines, Reporter

Chicago author Andy Frye released his book “Ninety Days in the 90s” in June. The story takes readers back in time to Chicago in the ’90s, featuring a host of pop culture references and broader themes.

“Ninety Days in the 90s” follows Darby Derrex, who travels back in time to the 1990s after returning to Chicago to run a record store. Derrex is faced with the choice of going home or staying in the past forever. 

Frye has covered sports and music for publications like Forbes, Rolling Stone and ESPN. The Daily spoke with Frye about his experiences writing the book.

This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

The Daily: Where did you get the inspiration to write “Ninety Days in the 90s?”

Frye: In the beginning, I didn’t know the heck I was doing. I got an idea. I was walking around, listening to all my Spotify playlists, which are mostly ’90s rock. At the time, I was listening to a band, and I thought about them playing at little clubs like Lounge Ax or Double Door. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to time travel back to that?” I decided if I cared about this idea in two weeks, then I’d give it a crack and see if I can write something. 

The Daily: If you were to start the writing process over, is there anything you would change?

Frye: It would have been nice to have written it in three years instead of five. But I think if you’re going to write a book, you’re going to need to know how to do it and how to see yourself through the process.

When you get a new book out, you meet other people who have their first books out. You can tell when somebody has just said, “It’s the fifth or sixth draft, this is good enough,” and writers who have labored to make sure the story gets through and the characters shine in a way that makes it a better read. I guess I could have done it in two or three years, but it probably wouldn’t have been as good of a book. 

The Daily: Outside of this book, you’ve also written for many publications. Besides “90 Days,” what is your favorite story that you’ve written?

Frye: I got to interview Billie Jean King twice. The most recent time was a couple of weeks ago. Billie Jean King is super talkative, and both times I’ve interviewed her, people come on and they’re like, “She needs to go. We gotta get her off the phone.” And I’m just listening. And then she’ll be like, “No, no, we’re talking here. We’re having a good conversation. So what were you saying, Andy?”

The Daily: Is there anything else that you want readers to know about your book before reading it themselves?

Frye: You don’t necessarily have to be a ’90s music expert, a grunge aficionado or only into punk to like it. The way I kind of pitch it is that it’s a fun, time travel adventure. It’s pop culture heavy, but it really, I think, reads well from anywhere, from Gen Z readers up to Gen X. 

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly described Derrex’s time travel. It also misnamed Lounge Ax. The Daily regrets the error. 

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