More Than Music by Elizabeth Briggs
(Chasing The Dream #1)
Publication date: June 17th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult
Music major Maddie Taylor seems to have her life all figured out. She’s just finished her junior year of college, has a summer internship lined up with the LA Philharmonic, and plans to go to grad school to write movie scores. Only her roommates know she practices guitar every night and secretly dreams of a louder life. But geeky girls like her don’t get to be rock stars.
Tattooed singer Jared Cross has a new girl every week, but when he catches Maddie playing one of his songs, she attracts his attention in an unexpected way. His band needs a fourth member for The Sound, a reality TV show competition—and he wants her. Though Maddie refuses to be another notch on Jared’s bedpost, she agrees to risk everything for the chance to be a rock star.
Once on the show, Maddie discovers there’s more to Jared behind his flirty smile, and with each performance their attraction becomes impossible to ignore. When the show pressures Jared to flaunt his player image, they’re forced to keep their relationship secret, but Maddie can’t help but want something real.
As the competition heats up, Jared will do whatever it takes for his band to win, and Maddie must decide if following her dream is worth losing her heart.
Playlist for More than Music:
Jared’s guitar was beautiful, with a smooth white faceplate, gleaming struts, and a shiny fingerboard. My fingers itched to touch the silvery strings, to form a chord and let it ring out through the amp, to hear what it sounded like without all the other instruments accompanying it. And if I was honest, I wanted to close my eyes and pretend I was on stage, playing for a crowd, hearing them scream for me. The longing I felt every time I went to a concert stirred up in me again. It wouldn’t hurt if I played one chord, right? That was it. One chord, and I’d put it back. No one would ever know.
Before I could stop myself, I picked up the guitar and threw the strap over my head. It settled against my shoulder, and with one hand on the fret board and the other on the strings, I was home. I closed my eyes, picturing Jared when he was on stage and how his talented fingers had moved across the guitar. I imagined him singing my favorite song of theirs, “Behind the Mask,” and the words and notes melted together in my head. I strummed the guitar, the sound ringing from the amp, the vibrations traveling up the ground and into my feet. God, I loved this guitar. It sounded just as good as my own, if not better.
Now that I had the guitar in my hands, the compulsion to play was irresistible. What was one more chord, right? I was alone and the room was soundproof. The door had locked behind me. Kyle was dealing with Becca, and he’d given me permission to come in here anyway.
I knew it was a bad idea. I knew I should put the guitar down and walk out of the room. But I started strumming anyway.
I was hesitant at first, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. My hands found the chords automatically, and the words flowed out of me with the music. Exhilaration swept through me with each note, and I closed my eyes and let the song take me away. Soon I was belting out the words, shredding the guitar like I was on stage playing for a massive crowd. I’d never do this in front of anyone else, but here, alone with this guitar, I could pretend. I could let myself go.
And then I opened my eyes and wanted to die.
Jared stood in front of me, his eyes wide and mouth open slightly. He must have come in while I was playing. How much did he hear? Or worse, see?
My fingers slipped off the strings with a screech, and I nearly dropped the guitar. Thank god for the strap. “I’m so sorry. Kyle gave me the key and I was just—”
There was no way to explain what was going on, so I shut up. I’d been singing his lyrics, playing the song he’d written. Not to mention, I’d been using his guitar. That was like wearing someone else’s underwear. You didn’t just play another person’s guitar without their permission.
I yanked the guitar off and tried to put it back, but knocked the stand over instead. Hands shaking, it took me two tries to right it again, all while Jared stood there, gaping at me. Why didn’t he say anything? Was he so angry he couldn’t speak? I set the guitar down carefully, then backed away like it was on fire—and ran straight into the drum set. Cymbals crashed as I fell against it, knocking the equipment all over the floor. Great, now he must think I’m a stalker and a complete klutz. I jumped up too fast, and my legs were so unsteady I started to topple over toward the table. Jared caught me before we had another disaster, his hands gripping my arms to balance me.
“You okay?” he asked, his blue eyes holding mine and making my heart pound even faster. If I stared into those eyes too long, I’d fall into them completely.
Where did you get the idea for More Than Music?
I went to high school for a short time with Adam Levine and Maroon 5, back when they were called Kara’s Flowers. They played at our school dances and I sat behind them in class and was completely in love with them. Of course, they had no idea I existed! Many years later I saw Adam Levine on The Voice, and had the idea of a geeky girl joining an up-and-coming rock band at her school and going on a show like The Voice, and the book grew from that.
What kind of research did you do for More Than Music?
Most of the research I did was on the music in the book, because I really wanted to get that right. I play the guitar but I’m not great at it because I don’t have time to practice regularly. Still, I tried to learn many of the songs that Maddie performs so I could describe the way it feels when you’re actually playing them. I studied a lot of guitar tutorials, live performances by the original bands, and covers by other bands. I also watched documentaries on what it’s like to be in a band, especially in high stress situations. And of course, I watched many episodes of The Voice!
How did you pick the songs in More Than Music?
I tried to pick songs that are well-known because I wanted anyone who is a fan of rock music to recognize most of them by name (especially since I couldn’t include lyrics due to copyright issues). I also chose songs that reflect what the characters are experiencing in the book, so that each song is like background music for what Maddie and Jared are going through.
The show in More Than Music is obviously based on The Voice, but were any of the characters based on particular celebrities?
None of the characters were based on any particular celebrity, but many characters were loosely inspired by them. The most obvious one is Jared, who was named after Jared Leto, the singer of Thirty Seconds To Mars. Both Jareds are flirty, talented, and hard-working, but also pretty down-to-earth – and both have brothers in their bands, too. And the mentors on the show were inspired by lots of different musicians all rolled into one. For example, Dan was loosely based on Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder, and Chris Cornell, but also had a little Adam Levine and Blake Shelton in him, too.
What’s next in the Chasing the Dream series?
First up is Kyle’s prequel novella, MORE THAN EXES, set at the Battle of the Bands that leads to the gig at the beginning of MORE THAN MUSIC. Next will be Hector’s novella, set a week after MORE THAN MUSIC at Comic-Con. After that, I’ll be writing books about Maddie’s best friends Julie and Carla, but you’ll have to wait a little longer for info on those, sorry!
Elizabeth Briggs is a full-time geek who writes books for teens and adults. She plays the guitar, mentors at-risk teens, and volunteers with a dog rescue group. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a pack of small, fluffy dogs.
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