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First pages

Prologue

 

Summer 1997 - Lexington, Kentucky

 

The sun was too bright. It’s cruel when the world does that to us; contrasts tragedies with bright blue skies. It was right in the middle of summer, and school was still a ways off. The threat of first day jitters wasn’t in the collective consciousness of school children across the city quite yet. Phoebe woke up early so that she could say goodbye to her father and brother, who were headed off to an out of town baseball game in Cincinnati. Jordan was already wearing his uniform as he sat down to breakfast, devouring his pop-tarts while their mother poured him a glass of milk. Phoebe swirled her spoon around her peach yogurt listlessly, wishing she could come along on the adventure. She loved riding in the car with her dad. He always let her turn the radio up all the way, unlike her mother, who loved her moments of peace and quiet while driving.

 

“Stop playing with your yogurt and eat it, sweetie,” her mother chided her, dropping Jordan’s glass of milk off at the table.

 

Phoebe wouldn’t be able to eat peach yogurt again. Isn’t that funny? What our bodies remember, even if our brains don’t? The first time she tried to eat peach yogurt after that day she gagged, spitting it out into a napkin before she was even able to call forth the memory.

 

She said goodbye to her father and brother, not knowing that it was going to be the last time she saw either of them, and ran back up to her room.

 

It was the golden hour when the police came. The told Mrs. Krause gently that there had been an accident. That a semi driver had collided with the family mini-van; that Mark and Jordan Krause had died on impact. In a matter of seconds, they shrunk from four to two.

 

After that moment, the world became a blur. Phoebe fled the house quickly, pushing passed her mother and the two policemen whose faces she would never be able to fully recall and running down the quiet suburban street howling like an animal let loose from a cage. She remembered her legs giving out. She remembered the scratch of the concrete on the back of her thighs as she sat down heavily on the curb, not knowing if she was ever going to be able to get up again. Not after this. She was only twelve. She wasn’t supposed to be feeling sadness like this yet. She remembered seeing a shadow fall on the street in front of her, and the distinct feeling that someone was behind her, waiting for her to turn around.

 

When she did, she was met with brown eyes and a cautious smile. A boy with shoulder length blonde hair. Jeans. A plaid flannel tied sloppily around his waist.

 

 

Chapter One

 

Spring 2000 - Lexington, Kentucky

 

Phoebe clambered off of the bus and stopped on the corner to catch her breath before walking the two blocks back to her house. She was still probably too small to be hauling her cello to and from school every day, but orchestra was the only class she really enjoyed anyway. Maneuvering her instrument on and off the bus every day was a fair trade for the hour and a half of happiness she felt during the school day.

 

It was a hot day in Lexington, the school year winding down. Phoebe was about to finish her freshman year of high school. She was excited to have that one under her belt, with the whole summer to look forward too. A golden promise. She walked down the sidewalk, a small trickle of sweat rolling down her left cheek, towards her house that was way too big for her family. It was two stories, three bedrooms, endless space...all for her mother and her. As she had gotten older she wondered why her mom hadn’t downsized. Instead, she kept the house in order as though it were a museum of a time when there were four of them and nothing could ever go wrong. When she was twelve years old, Phoebe’s father and fifteen year old brother were in a car accident and died on impact. Phoebe’s mother would never be the same. She dissolved into a shadow of herself.

 

Phoebe, on the other hand, dissolved completely into music.

 

It was the few years after the tragedy that Phoebe was absorbed into another family that lived in the neighborhood. The Andersons were a family of four - two boys and no daughters. She was about a year younger than Dylan, so of course they became fast friends at record speed. Thomas and Linda, the parents who didn’t seem to mind the addition of an unrelated daughter, were very aware of the tragedy that had occurred and the healing that would need to take place. They probably overcompensated on that front, but Phoebe didn’t care. All of a sudden she had two older boys clamoring to fill the void left by her big brother, and two adults who never failed to invite her to dinner.

 

Dylan was thirteen when Phoebe came into his life. It was the day of the tragedy. Phoebe collapsed on the curb in front of his yard, exhausted from the waves of emotions she had just experienced.

 

Dylan sat down next to her and offered her his sleeve. He stayed with her until she stopped crying. He was like some unlikely, teenage angel.

 

After that, they were inseparable. Phoebe played piano with Jacob for hours, the two of them creating melodies together and laughing until their eyes welled up. She and Dylan watched cartoons on their green couch until it felt like her brain was going to seep out of her skull. They played in the front yard until the sun went down and the fireflies came out.

 

The boys had already formed a band in their family’s garage with another set of brothers from down the street. Max and Benjamin, the Knight brothers, were the oldest in a brood of children, all with dark curls and sparkling green eyes. Their parents were traditional and basically raised the boys in the worship band at their church. When the two sets of brothers came together, it was magic. They even started performing at events around town. The novelty of them being young, or that they happened to be two sets of brothers, wasn’t the only thing they had going for them. They actually were really quite good. Phoebe always strove for excellence when they were around, always wanted to impress them in one way or another.

 

After they swept Phoebe into their clan, she began playing music with the boys. They had their band, of course, but it was fun to just jam with them after she got home from school. She preferred strings over any other kind of instrument, and sometimes they would even ask her to add cello lines to their already written songs. Benjamin taught her guitar until she knew enough to pick out any chord progression. Jacob’s eyes sparkled when she added a descant to any chorus. Dylan continued to be her unlikely angel. The one that cheered her up whenever the crushing reality of the loss she had suffered came crashing down on her incredibly young shoulders.

 

But all of this was a memory of summers past. It had been a couple years since their last garage jam session, due to the fact that the boys had rocketed to pop stardom, becoming huge, albeit young, hometown heroes. They were discovered at the Kentucky State Fair by Lee Shores, a manager who quickly took them under his wing and promised them the world. He carted them off to Orlando to record demos and meet with labels, filling their heads with visions of sold out arenas and hordes of screaming girls. It was only weeks until they were in the studio, and not long after that they were thrown into a rigorous touring schedule. They had been travelling constantly, and Phoebe felt as though she had once again lost a brother (or two). She wrote emails to them constantly, and they would send her handwritten letters from various tour stops. This last leg of their tour had seemed particularly long, probably because Phoebe was having trouble making friends in high school. She wanted her real friends back. Those golden haired brothers who had known her through her biggest losses. Which is why when she saw Dylan leaning casually on her mother’s van, she nearly dropped her cello case in surprise.

 

He was fiddling with the callouses on his hands, and didn’t look up when she stopped dead in her tracks about a block from her driveway. She wondered if it was even really him. She didn’t know they were coming home this weekend.

 

“Dylan?” She yelled from where she stood.

 

He looked up like an eager puppy, seeing her loping towards him, moving as quickly as she could while encumbered with her particularly large instrument.

 

He met her halfway, completely enveloping her in a huge hug that lifted her off the ground. He and his hair had grown a few inches since the last time they had been together, which took her by surprise. She hadn’t been expecting the ease with which he scooped her up, or the angle she had to put her head at in order to look him in the eye.

 

“I didn’t know you were coming home!” She exclaimed, barely able to form any other coherent thoughts due to her pure excitement.

 

“Yeah we have a few weeks in between tour legs. So we thought we might as well come home for part of it!”

 

“I’m so...I’m so happy you’re here! I thought...I don’t know what I thought. I feel like this tour has lasted forever already.”

 

“I know,” he agreed, “I’m ready for a break. It’s been insane.” He picked up her cello case and walked with her back to the house.

 

“Tell me everything!”

 

“I’ve told you most things in the letters!” He laughed at her enthusiasm, but she could tell he was excited too. They both had their best friends back, and there is something about that which makes you feel like you’re full of light. The bright yellow feeling that only happens when your favorite person in the world looks you straight in the eye.

 

Phoebe wasn’t surprised by her mother’s absence from the kitchen. She hauled her cello case up to her room and peeked into her mom’s bedroom. Sure enough she was laying in bed. It was about time for her afternoon nap, anyway. The one she took when the weight of the day felt like too much.

 

“Hey Mom?” She said quietly, not wanting to run off to Dylan’s house with no warning.

 

Her mom grunted from under the covers, acknowledging Phoebe’s presence.

 

“Can I go over to Dylan’s house?”

 

“Dylan is home?” she muttered.

 

“Yep!”

 

“Of course, honey,” she replied, waving her hand as if to shoo Phoebe back out of the room. Phoebe bounded back down the stairs, jumping over the last three steps.

 

“Want to come over for dinner?” Dylan asked with a smirk.

 

“Oh I thought you’d never ask,” Phoebe joked back.

 

***

 

“Phoebe?!” It’s time for dinner!”

 

Phoebe snapped out of her daydream, looking around blearily. She had started her homework about an hour ago, but had spiraled into a scenario about her favorite member of her favorite band. It wasn’t unusual.

 

Phase had become a phenomenon so quickly and with such force that it had knocked almost every teenage girl in America right on her back. Phoebe couldn’t even remember what she listened to before their first single came out when she was 12. She was now 15, and the fire hadn’t stopped burning (if anything, it had grown quite considerably). People would often joke, “oh it’s just a phase,” using the band name ironically (they must have planned that, or at least known it would happen), but Phoebe was absolutely convinced that it was not. This was not something that was just going to go away. She was prepared to love those four boys until the day she died.

 

Many of her friends from middle school had happily hopped on the wagon and became huge fans of the boys. It was the thing to do in the late nineties, after all. Boyband-mania was sweeping the nation, and girls across the country were caught in the undertow. Phoebe loved the ride. It was thrilling. She was a part of something. She had never experienced anything like it before.

 

There were four of them. Two sets of brothers who had grown up together making music. Coincidentally, the boys were originally from Phoebe’s hometown of Lexington, which added a sense of ownership to her obsession. That tiny piece of trivia made her feel special, like she was part of the world of Phase in some small way. The boys had quickly moved to California at the first hint of success to record and release their music, but they still made sure to come back to Lexington to play shows on tour. They played instruments and sang and were a real band (a point Phoebe never let go unnoticed when someone wanted to start making fun of their carefree, poppy tunes). Their faces smiled down at her from her walls, and she smiled back, ignoring her mother constantly nagging her to take them down. No, she didn’t think she was a little old for that. Most of her friends had listened to the first album, and they would smile at the sound of one of their singles on the radio, or laugh at memories made at their very first concert, but they were just not as dedicated as her. It was as simple as that. Phoebe had now been to three concerts in two years. She went to the last one completely unsupervised, but it was surprisingly the happiest she had ever been, and the most fun she had ever had. She was sure she looked ridiculous all by herself in the crowd, her face broken into the biggest smile imaginable, the energy from hundreds of bodies packed inside of Rupp Arena making her feel whole. Getting there had been a project. She had lied to her mother and told her she was going with her friend Kath, but Kath hadn’t cared about Phase for at least a year. Her mom happily pulled up in front of Rupp Arena, and Phoebe walked like a pilgrim along with countless other girls adorned in Phase merchandise, to her ultimate destination. Phoebe was completely alone but experienced the humongous concert with other die-hard fans that she, in some way, felt closer to than anyone else. A week later, when she developed her disposable camera film, she explained to her mom that they had been so excited about seeing the boys that she and Kath had forgotten to get a picture of the two of them together. The concert had been transformative.

 

She felt like she was home.

 

Each of the boys was different, and Phoebe never hesitated to tell anyone who would listen in what ways. Max Knight was the oldest. He was 18 when they started the group, and was the front man who sang lead on nearly every song. He was often referred to as the heart throb, with floppy brown curls (which many girls envied as well as adored), bright green eyes, and a sincere smile that could melt any 13 year old girl’s heart. He had the voice of a rockstar, sometimes played guitar, and had the distinct talent of making teenagers swoon dramatically.

 

His brother, Benjamin (who everyone lovingly referred to as Benji, as though they knew him personally) was two years younger and played lead guitar, shocking the general population with his ability to absolutely shred as a mere 16 year old. He was the second oldest in their family, the two boys being followed by four younger, non-musical sisters. He shared his brother’s good looks, but no one could deny that he was much more focused on the music than Max. His first and only love was his guitar. He and Jacob always told interviewers that they had been best friends since preschool, and that the two sets of brothers came together because of their close bond.

 

Jacob and Dylan Anderson were 16 and 13 when the band first signed with their record label; two blonde brothers who lived down the street from the Knights. Jacob played piano and added a high tenor line to every harmony. He looked and sounded like a cherub, and was constantly called “the quiet one” by the media. He was extremely shy, and usually looked uncomfortable in big crowds or surrounded by fans. But for whatever reason, that added to his image, and made the fans desperate to crack his code. Dylan, on the other hand, was the exact opposite of his brother, and was the biggest goof ball the music industry had ever seen. He played drums, always joking that he wasn’t old enough to be good at anything else, and constantly looked like he had a laugh in his lungs. He had no problem telling fans they were being weird or creepy, and was the most outspoken of the four.

 

Each boy had a following of their own, girls everywhere picking one specific member of the band to remain loyal to. Phoebe had, almost instantly, chosen Dylan.

 

Phoebe could draw a line straight through her life thus far - slicing her experiences into two eras. Before Phase, and now. Their first single, “Counterclockwise”, which kickstarted their career, hit the radio in the fall of ‘97, changing her life forever. She remembered so clearly the first time she heard it. It was silly and catchy but grasped her heart in a way nothing ever had before. She hadn’t smiled in months, but the sound of those four boys harmonizing flawlessly made her face twitch to form some semblance of a grin.

 

She fell headfirst into their music, and never looked back.

 

A year later, her room was plastered with posters from every magazine she could get a hold of. She would spend hours after school carefully clipping articles out of tabloids, breaking only to turn on TRL in hopes of catching a glimpse of the boys. Their album had rushed into the country’s culture with a force unlike PHoebe had ever experienced in her very young life. Sure, it was the era of the boyband. But Phase was different.

 

After days of grey, and senses that felt like they were muffled in thick wool, Phoebe’s life bloomed into color. Their music gave her something to live for.

 

“Coming!!” Phoebe yelled back to her mom, closing her notebook and quickly hopping off her bed. She realized that she had been doodling instead of studying; writing song lyrics in loopy handwriting with swirls and stars and clouds and whatever else came spilling out of her pen. She promised herself when she was done eating dinner she would do her homework. She would sit at the dining room table, so the posters adorning her wall wouldn’t reel her back into the story in her head. She also desperately needed to practice her orchestra music, the only class that she even liked anyway. She smiled up at the four boys gazing down at her from every angle and bounded down the stairs, her stomach rumbling.

 

***

 

“Hey there’s some time before dinner. Do you want to walk down by the river?” Dylan suggested with a smirk. That was one of their special places, where they used to hang out before he flew away from their small city. Phoebe nodded emphatically.

 

“Are you happy to be home?” Phoebe asked as they turned and headed down a slope to the park on the far reaches of their neighborhood.

 

“I am. Tour is exhausting. I love it. A lot. It’s unlike anything in this world but...it’s nice to have a few days to just relax.”

 

“I’m sure you’re ready for some alone time too. You’re with the guys all the time.”

 

“Literally twenty four seven. And obviously it’s great like...we’re a band and we’re all friends and brothers. But yeah you’re absolutely right. Alone time will be...nice.”

 

Phoebe breathed out a quiet laugh. Dylan sounded like he had aged 10 years. He was sixteen years old, but he was talking like he was closing in on 30 and was absolutely exhausted by the world. She wondered if the other guys felt similarly. Surely they did. Jacob was probably in his room quietly reading until it was absolutely necessary to talk to anyone. He was such an introvert, Phoebe often wondered how he managed being thrown into fame like that. Max and Benji had always been charismatic and naturally charming, and Phoebe felt like they were the ones that had the most adoring fans of the four. They both played guitar, and always seemed to answer interview questions eloquently. They were definitely thriving in their new, heightened reality.

 

“It also just goes by really fast. I think it’s all the travelling.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“It’s like...one minute you’re in a city playing a show and before you can even catch your breath you’re in the bus going to the next place. We have so many press events and interviews too. It’s not like we have much time to just explore. We’re always scheduled.”

 

“How are you not like...asleep right now?” Phoebe asked earnestly. She would be exhausted and probably have to sleep for a week straight after the life they had been living.

 

“Trust me, I woke up at like 2pm today.” Dylan paused to sit down by the stream every neighborhood kid called a river. It seemed much more majestic when they were six. “But listen to me, I sound like I hate my life. I don’t. I get to play my music for people who love it. I’m just venting to you because you’re you.”

 

“And I...asked. You can always vent to me!”

 

“Thanks Phoebs. I’ve missed you so much,” he mumbled quickly, his face reddening slightly.

 

“I’ve missed you too! Like...it’s embarrassing how much I missed you,” she said, embarrassing herself even more. They both grinned stupidly.

 

They noticed the sun descending in the sky, casting the park in a golden glow. Phoebe and Dylan walked the few blocks west to his house quickly, as though there was a deadline. There wasn’t one, Phoebe just knew that there was another boy there that she desperately wanted to see. As soon as the house came into view, she saw him sitting on the porch waiting patiently for her arrival, as though he sensed that she was coming.

 

“Phoebs!” Jacob called from the porch. He scrambled up off the steps and ran towards her, swinging her around with ease. “We’ve missed you so much!” Jacob exclaimed. She laughed to herself. She missed them more, she could practically bet on it. She didn’t have any friends at her school, but they had thousands of fans chanting their names at any given time.

 

Jacob glanced back at the house, “Dinner is almost ready but maybe after that we can jam. It’s been a while.”

 

Phoebe smiled at the suggestion. She couldn’t believe how comfortable Jacob was with her. It made her swell with pride after watching countless interviews featuring him looking incredibly uncomfortable. The boys ushered her into the house. While they were making their way to the table, Jacob bent over and muttered in her ear.

 

“Have you been writing?”

 

Her smile grew even wider. She had been waiting to tell him all the songs she had written while they had been away. To gloat...just a little.

 

Dylan chattered loudly throughout dinner, excited to have a fresh pair of ears to listen to his every thought. His parents looked knowingly at their sons, grateful to have them back at the family dinner table, and thankful to have their honorary daughter there as well.

 

“May we be excused?” Jacob asked politely.

 

“Are you already done? Who is we?” Linda, their ever patient mother, responded with a smirk. Of course he was talking about the three of them. The three of them. A unit. “I suppose,” she said with a playful sigh. “Take your dishes to the sink, though.”

 

“Thanks Mom!” Dylan exclaimed, leaning over to kiss her on the cheek before scooping up his dishes. The three of them ran to the garage, a fraction of their instruments still there. Waiting for them.

 

“Play me some of your new stuff!” Phoebe exclaimed, picking up their lone bass and tuning it by ear.

 

“You won’t know it though,” Jacob argued.

 

“She’ll pick it up,” Dylan said from behind his drums. He had just thrown off the tarp that was covering his very first set, which he hadn’t played since the last time they were home.

 

“I’d rather hear new stuff. And I’m sure you’d rather play songs you don’t play every night on tour,” she offered. She was surprised they even wanted to play any songs at all tonight. This is what they did every single night of their lives. This was their job. Surely they would want a break during their very short vacation. She almost said all of this, but selfishly refrained. She wanted to play music with them more than anything right now.

 

Dylan counted them in and the pair started playing a song she had never heard. It was beautiful; a different feel from their last album. She watched Jacob’s fingers for a few measures learning the chord progression and branding it into her memory. She liked playing bass with them because it was so close to cello. It was pretty easy for her, and she worked diligently at school to get better and better at it. None of them played the bass, and she liked feeling needed. And none of them could play it as good as her.

 

The song seamlessly transitioned into the next. As usual, she was astounded that they had written this much new material while they had been touring. But they were always writing. Always. It was a thing she had learned very quickly about those four. She looked around at them, perfectly content to be jamming in a garage on an early summer evening. Sometimes their success felt so surreal. There she was, every day, sitting in math class doodling, practicing her cello for hours and hours on end, living a relatively normal life. And yet there were days she would see their smiling faces on magazine covers at the drug store, or on her television when she switched MTV after school, and she just couldn’t believe how different their lives were from hers. Those were her best friends. She wondered if they cared about her as much as she did about them. She convinced herself too many times that they didn’t. The less attached she could make herself, the easier it would be when they forgot about her.

 

The garage door swung open and Phoebe was surprised to see the shadowed figure outlined by the night sky. Surely they hadn’t been playing that long, had they? She checked her watch. It was already 9pm.

 

“Phoebe, do you need to be home by any time?” Their father asked, concerned that his sons were getting away with too much, as usual.

 

“No, it’s a Friday night. I don’t have school in the morning,” Phoebe replied, not wanting to say that her Mom probably hadn’t even realized she was gone, even though she had said she was going to Dylan’s earlier that day.

 

“Good, well come into the house, you’ve been out here long enough.”

 

“Dad, we do this…”

 

“I know, but you’re not on tour right now. You’re home. Come on, guys.”

 

They made their way back to the house. Phoebe mindlessly turned towards the living room when Dylan grabbed her hand.

 

“I forgot, I have to show you something. It’s in my room,” he explained, tugging her towards the stairs.

 

“Oh...um...okay,” she looked over at Jacob, already distracted by his parents and the television show they had flipped on. She followed him up the stairs and into his room, looking around expectantly. He shut the door behind him and stood there, clearly not showing her anything.

 

“So what is it?” she asked.

 

“What?”

 

“You said you had something to show me, you weirdo.”

 

“Ooooh right. Yeah, sorry I don’t have anything. I just wanted to hang out with my best friend without my brother or my parents commandeering her time.”

 

Phoebe chuckled at that, and smiled inwardly, finally ceasing to doubt that he had missed her too. He plopped down on the bed and looked up at her, patting the spot in front of him.

 

“Come on,” he said. She slipped off her shoes and climbed up on his twin bed. “Tell me every single thing that I missed while I was gone.”

 

“Well…” Phoebe began, “High school definitely sucks.”

 

 

Chapter Two

 

Spring 2000 - Lexington, Kentucky

 

Phoebe jumped when she heard a knock on the practice room door. She set her cello down carefully on the ground, visibly annoyed that she had to get up and open the door for Mrs. Marshall, her orchestra teacher.

 

“I’m gonna lock up, Phoebe. You should probably get going.”

 

“What time is it?” Phoebe asked, peering through the doorway to look at the overhead clock hanging from the music hall’s ceiling.

 

“It’s already 6:30! You’ve been in here for three hours!”

 

“Oh wow. Sorry.”

 

“Don’t apologize, I wish all my students loved practicing as much as you do.”

 

“No I just...I guess I just lost track of time. That happens sometimes...when I play,” Phoebe said sheepishly. She really didn’t have an excuse other than she had been working so hard that she forgot that time was continuing to pass. She shook out her hands, realizing suddenly that they were tired.

 

“That’s okay. But I am going to lock up. Do you have a ride home?”

 

“Um...yeah, I’ll just have to call my mom. Can I use your office door?”

 

“Of course, go ahead.”

 

Phoebe spent more time in the music hallway than anyone else, she was sure of that. She looked forward to her senior year, when she could tailor her schedule so that she would almost never have to leave. Orchestra, choir, music theory...she usually spent lunch in Mrs. Marshall’s office as well, helping her organize sheet music or filing paperwork. She would much rather be sitting on her orchestra teacher’s purple couch than in the cafeteria.

 

It’s not that she didn’t have friends. She did. There was Molly, who played piano. She had come over a few times, and there was nothing that brought people together like grueling after school study sessions when a particularly difficult music theory test was coming up. There was Austin, who sat right next to her in the cello section and would mutter hilarious things under his breath about Mrs. Marshall’s teaching assistant when no one was looking. There was Kath, of course, who she had known since she was in diapers, and who had accompanied her to two

Phase concerts. And there was Donald, a tenor who sat next to her in choir. She had been sequestered to the alto section on the first day of school, because she could read music so well. She sat at the very edge of the section in the front row, right next to a short boy with curly brown hair and a freckled face. Within days, they realized that they were supposed to be friends. Phoebe didn’t get in trouble much in school, but when she did, it was because she was laughing way too hard with Donald. They were even sent out of the choir room one day for being disruptive, a memory that always made her chuckle.

 

But, that was about it. If anyone asked, she would rattle off everyone that was in orchestra with her because that’s who she was sure her family of friends were supposed to be, but she didn’t really spend any time with them outside of school and rehearsal. At the end of the day, she didn’t go to school with her truest friends. Her real friends.

 

Her real friends, the ones that she confided in, the ones that felt like they would be there for her no matter what, she had met online on Phase fan forums. It had started casually. She didn’t have that much internet time to spare and she was usually busy practicing anyway, but one day she logged on to Just a Phase, a forum she had heard about countless times, out of pure curiosity. She was typing a paper at the public library a few blocks away from her house when she typed the address into the web browser.

 

It was thrilling, pulling the website up for the first time. She felt like she was doing something forbidden, even though it was a pretty innocent online community. She was overwhelmed by the amount of threads, the screen names, the plethora of responses for every question that could possibly be asked. She chose the screenname CelloThere85, the same as her AIM account. She spent the afternoon combing through the threads, noticing the users that posted a lot, as well as the ones that were exceptionally funny. She smiled when she saw pictures from the concert she had been to only months before, and scrolled endlessly in the page dedicated to Dylan, her favorite member. When she looked up from the computer, the big window at the back of the library was darl. She logged off and gathered her things, her whole body buzzing off of the strange adrenaline that the website had provided. She told herself that she would check back every so often, but she would never post.

 

That conviction did not last long.

 

About a week later, she was back at the library, looking through some of the new threads that had popped up since the day before. She saw one that was discussing Phase’s newest album, that was set to drop in a month’s time. She clicked reply to this thread and typed with enthusiasm.

 

I can’t wait to hear the new music!

 

It was a completely harmless comment, but with those eight small worlds, she put her first mark on the community that would eventually become her family.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

KT Berger is a professional playwright and composer who is based in the Tampa Bay Area. Originally from Kentucky, she has been deeply involved in numerous fandoms over the course of her life: travelling across the country for bands, camping out for front row seats, and dropping a bundle on merch that she probably didn't need at the time. While music is her first love, writing is her second, and she is happy to be bringing the skills she learned as a fanfiction author into the "real world".

Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
The inspiration is deeply rooted in my own experiences as a lifelong fangirl. While Phoebe's journey follows one major fandom, it's really a conglomeration of all of my fan experiences throughout the years. I'm fascinated by why we do the things we do as fans, and this book delves into that.
Q. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
A.
Separating the character of Phoebe from myself. There are obviously a lot of parallels (I think it's impossible not to put a little bit of yourself into every character), but at the end of the day we are different people, and react to things in different ways.
Q. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
A.
Find the thing that makes you feel most alive, and hold onto it.

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