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YA Authors Celebrate the Grammys

Special Feature

YA Authors Celebrate the Grammys

Award season is officially upon us! While we’re all about acting, we’re especially anxious for the Grammy’s. With Taylor Swift, Mark Ronson, The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, and Ed Sheeran each garnering multiple nominations, a live screening of the opening number from the Broadway sensation “Hamilton” and a David Bowie tribute courtesy of the one and only Lady Gaga? Sign us up!

To celebrate in our own bookish way, we made a playlist of some of our favorite YA authors' favorite songs! You can find the embedded playlist, below (minus a few songs that aren't available on Spotify), and read the reasons behind each author's selection.


“Roar” by Katy Perry
Susan Moger, OF BETTER BLOOD: “Roar" is a favorite of mine because its powerful message applies to anyone who has ever felt silenced.  "Roar" inspires me as an author to use my voice to create characters who discover theirs. Thank you, Katy Perry!

“I Will Follow You Into The Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie
- Zoe Marriott, THE NAME OF THE BLADE, DARKNESS HIDDEN and fall 2016’s FRAIL HUMAN HEART: I am a gigantic Marvel comics geek, and like many die-hard Marvel fans, I believe Captain America, aka Steve Rogers, ought to get together with his boyhood best friend and brain-washed assassin nemesis, Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier.This song seems like the kind of vow these two star-crossed soulmates might utter to each other, and as such, it makes me tear up every time it plays on my iPod. WinterShield 4eva! *Sob*

 “Like Real People Do” by Hozier
- Arwen Elys Dayton, the Seeker series: I really like this song because on the surface, it sounds like a beautiful little love song, but underneath this the lyrics are dark and ambiguous and hint of an entirely different sort of story: I had a thought, dear/However Scary/About that night/The bugs and the dirt/Why were you digging?/What did you bury/Before those hands pulled me/From the earth?

 “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’” by The Velvet Underground
- Shaun David Hutchinson, THE FIVE STAGES OF ANDREW BRAWLEY and WE ARE THE ANTS:“Oh! Sweet Nuthin’” is a song about the disaffected, a song that seems depressing at first.  But, to me, it’s really a song about how, when it seems we have nothing, when it seems that our lives are empty, they’re not. Our lives are full of hope and joy.  Plus, when the guitar kicks in at the end, it’s a transcendent experience that deserves to be listened to loudly.

“Take a Chance on Me” by ABBA
- Susann Cokal, THE KINGDOM OF LITTLE WOUNDS: "Take a Chance on Me" has a bubbly sense of hope and wit. I didn't get married till I was 49, and as part of the ceremony (which my husband and I held at our farmhouse), we had all the guests sing this song together. I had a terrible migraine and don't remember much of the wedding, but I do remember looking out at all those faces I love and seeing and hearing them sing the ultimate song of optimism.

"Princes of the Universe" by Queen
Marieke Nijkamp, THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS:This was one of my favorite songs growing up, and I still gravitate toward it. I love the drama, the magic and the guitar solo.

"Sawdust and Diamonds" by Joanna Newsom
- Tommy Wallach, WE ALL LOOKED UP and THANKS FOR THE TROUBLE: There aren't a lot of ten-minute songs that can hold your attention, but nobody does the epic like Joanna Newsom. I put on this song whenever I need to cry, and it always gets the job done: "Darling, we will be fine; but what was yours and mine/ Appears to me a sandcastle/ That the gibbering wave takes."

“High” by Zella Day
- Michael Buckley, RAGING SEA: Right now, my jam is “High” by Zella Day. It's a troubling song about self-destruction, yet hauntingly beautiful. It's a perfect YA song --- a desperate, dangerous love between two people swept away by forces outside of their control. The guitar is lonely and other-worldly, and Day's voice takes turns soaring toward heaven then tumbling into an intoxicated warble. It's song and storytelling combined and I don't think anyone is doing it better right now that her.

"Against All Odds" by Phil Collins
- Grady Hendrix, HORROSTÖR and MY BEST FRIEND'S EXORCISM: Capable of transforming the sunniest afternoon into rainy midnight, this may get dismissed as 80s cheese, but no other pre-Taylor Swift pop hit showcased all the heartbreak and anger of getting dumped --- by your wife, by your lover or even your best friend --- like this one. It's Exhibit A in making the case that Phil Collins is a Pop Genius. 

 “Thirteen” by Big Star
- Don Calame, DAN VERSUS NATURE (4/12/2016) and the Swim the Fly series: I discovered this song when I heard a nice cover of it by Elliot Smith, but the original by Big Star is even more heartbreaking. It’s a simple, sweet tune that really captures that awkward, innocent and thrilling time when life was all about girls, music and trying to figure out who you are and what you love. 

“Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift
- Brenda Drake, THIEF OF LIES: I love the attitude and the feel to this song, and it was on repeat most of 2015 while I was editing the draft of GUARDIAN OF SECRETS (Library Jumpers #2). It put me in the mood during some tough scenes and the situation Gia finds herself in at the beginning of the book.

 “Demons” by Imagine Dragons
Ava Jae, BEYOND THE RED: When I started first drafting BEYOND THE RED in May 2013, I was obsessed with Imagine Dragons's Night Visions album and played it endlessly on repeat. “Demons” especially has a really moody atmosphere that I love --- and listening to it reminds me of those frantic days at my computer with a red desert world coming to life on the page in front of me. 

 “Nightswimming” by R.E.M.
- Jennifer Longo, UP TO THIS POINTE: I'm not a huge R.E.M. fan, but this song has a piano and string melody that keeps returning to a central theme, like a baroque cadence, and it has always killed me. It's a story song, the lyrics are nostalgic and simple and hopeful and it is also perfect for ballet choreography.

"Redemption Song" by Bob Marley & The Wailers
- Sonja Stone, DESERT DARK: This song reminds me of college (which, for me, was so much better than high school). I love the passionate plea of the lyrics and music, and the empowering message of inner strength.

 "Loner" by Burial 
- Leo Hunt, 13 DAYS OF MIDNIGHT and fall 2016’s EIGHT RIVERS OF SHADOW: A haunted house of a track --- dark and ethereal. It makes me feel like I'm watching streetlights pass through the window of a night bus. I listened to this over and over when I was writing my own ghost story.