The lovely Liz Briggs
I’m so excited to be interviewing Elizabeth Briggs, author of New Adult, stand alone, contemporary romance MORE THAN MUSIC.
Many of you may be familiar with Liz, since we’ve mentioned her several times on this blog. I met Kati and Heidi when Liz chose all of us to be a part of her 2012 Pitch Wars Team. So, you already know she has good taste. Since then, Liz and I have become close friends and I could not be more excited about the release of her NA debut MORE THAN MUSIC.
But before we start chatting, here’s a little more about More Than Music (from Goodreads):
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.
Doesn’t that sound awesome?
I was able to read an early version of MORE THAN MUSIC, and one of the things I really loved about this book were Liz’s many references to comics and music. Even the name of the band name Villain Complex is connected to comics—it made the book so fun to read. Liz, were these things you had to research?
Liz: The geeky stuff didn’t require any research because I’m already a huge comics fan. I did search for different villain shirts for Jared to wear though, which was fun. I had a huge list, so I’m sure new villain shirts will pop up in future books.
The music took a lot more research. 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 myself so I could describe the way it feels when you’re actually playing them. I also watched a lot of guitar tutorials, live performances by the original bands, and covers by other bands. And of course, episodes of The Voice!
Stephanie: I’m glad there will be more villain shirts in future books! I actually wanted to buy a couple of the shirts Jared wore.
So, I’ve heard a rumor that one of your novellas might be set at Comic-Con. Would you be willing to confirm that?
Liz: This is true! Hector (the drummer in Villain Complex) is also a comic book artist, so his novella will be set at Comic-Con. The tentative title is MORE THAN COMICS and it takes place about a week after MORE THAN MUSIC. I’m going to my 7th Comic-Con in July, so I plan to do LOTS of research there!
Stephanie: I have always wanted to go to Comic-Con! That sounds like the best research. Too bad, that means the novella hasn’t been written yet. Is there anything else you can tell us about your other upcoming Novella’s?
Liz: Other than Hector’s novella, there will also be a prequel novella set about a month before MORE THAN MUSIC. This one will be focused on Kyle, the keyboardist in the band, who is Maddie’s friend and Jared’s brother. The novella is set at the UCLA vs USC Battle of the Bands and it shows how Villain Complex got the gig at the start of MORE THAN MUSIC.
After that, I plan to write books about Maddie’s best friends, Julie and Carla. But you’ll have to wait a little longer for info on those, sorry!
Stephanie: That’s okay, as long as there will be more books I’m happy.
So, although I loved all of your awesome comic references throughout More Than Music, the romance was definitely my favorite part of the story! I’m not going to lie, I totally fell in love with Jared Cross, would you mind sharing how you came up with his character?
Liz: Jared is loosely based on Jared Leto from Thirty Seconds To Mars. I originally used the name Jared as a placeholder, but it stuck and my friends wouldn’t let me change it. Like Jared Leto, the Jared in MORE THAN MUSIC is charming, something of a player, but also pretty silly and more down-to-earth than people might expect from a rock star. Also, they’re both very hard-working and driven and perfectionistic. Plus, they both have brothers in the band that they’re really close to, which causes other complications (the drummer in Thirty Seconds To Mars is Jared Leto’s brother Shannon).
There’s also a little of my husband in Jared, too, because every love interest I write is partly inspired by him. For example, my husband also wears a lot of geeky shirts. And like all characters, Jared is partly me, too. I definitely feel the same way about writing that Jared (and Maddie) feel about music.
Stephanie: That’s so sweet that you put a little of your husband in every love interest you write!
Before writing More Than Music, you wrote young adult science fiction. I know a lot of people think the main difference between YA and NA is just the age difference of the characters and a stronger emphasis on romance, but as someone who’s written both, what would you say the main difference is between writing in the two different categories?
Liz: For me, the main difference is that the characters are a bit more mature in NA and have more independence than teens do. They’re on their own for the first time in their lives and have more experience than they did in high school, but that freedom and maturity also comes with new challenges and responsibilities. It’s a time of transition and change, and NA characters are starting to figure out who they want to be for the rest of their lives – in their careers, in relationships, and as people. This combination of independence and uncertainty is what I loved most about writing NA.
Stephanie: And finally, what piece of advice would you give any writers who are thinking about making a switch from writing YA to NA?
Liz: First of all, do it! I thought people might give me a hard time about switching to NA, and worried that my CPs or my agent wouldn’t want to read my book, but that hasn’t been the case at all. In fact, my agent told me NOT to use a pen name because there is so much cross-over audience between YA and NA these days. Plus, NA is growing right now, and there’s no telling where it will go next, so it’s a perfect time to start writing it.
Second, keep in mind that NA isn’t just “YA with sex.” There are lots of great NA books out there without any sex. However, NA does have a slightly older voice and maturity level than YA, with characters who worry about different things than teens do. For example, they might worry about how they’re going to pay for the next semester of college, or they might be starting a summer internship or their first job. Or they might be living away from home for the first time and enjoying new freedoms, but also new responsibilities like paying rent and dealing with roommates. That said, a lot of the same things readers love in YA work great in NA, so the transition is a lot easier from YA to NA than you might think!
Liz, thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and answer my questions.
More Than Music is currently available for purchase in paperback and ebook, on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Heidi, Kati, and I are also going to be giving away one copy to a very lucky winner!
To enter to win, all you need to do is leave comment before midnight (PST) June 24th. If you share this on twitter, we’ll give you an extra entry, just make sure you tell us in the comments. Our winner will be announced the next day, June 25th.