When Music and YA Collide – Behind the Song Review + Author Interview

I am all about music, YA, and anthologies so BEHIND THE SONG was sure to be a hit for me. This incredible anthology hit it out of the park and I am thrilled to share it with you all today.

A few reasons I loved Behind the Song (and I think you will, too):

  • Each author is at their complete best. I’ve read or interacted with most of the authors (though not the musicians) so I have a sense of their personality. Their stories were so their own that I couldn’t help but smile. I especially appreciated Ellen Hopkins’ story (I haven’t read her stuff before) and EC Myers (who writes an amazing speculative fiction piece that is so deep I felt like I needed to decompress after I read it).
  • The personal essays. Jonathan Maberry gets REAL in his and it was fun to see G. Love and Donn T write about their songs and experiences with music.
  • A good mix of stories. From the non-fiction to the fantasy to the cute contemporary (OMG Tiffany Schmidt’s story), this anthology has a mix of everything.

It’s KM Walton’s story that really surprised me. I haven’t read anything by her previously but her story (which is the last story) really stood out. I may have shed a tear (or ten). 

Highly recommend this anthology!

Interview with K.M. Walton

What was your reaction as the stories started coming in?

Since this was my first time as an editor, I was ridiculously nervous. It was my agent who set me straight. He said, “Kate, you’re the editor, you have to edit everyone’s work.” I did just that and I have to say, editing my contributors’ pieces was some of the most rewarding work I’ve ever done. 

Where there any that surprised you? 

Honestly, each piece blew me away—such brilliant writing. And after I finished reading a piece, I loved finding the lyrics to the song that inspired the writer, reading them, and reveling in the creativity. 

How did you decide the order of the stories? 

I ordered the stories by the contributor’s last name, alphabetically.

Your story is so beautiful – I cried! What was your writing process and research like? 

Of course, it started with the song: Marcy Playground’s “All the Lights Went Out”. 

It has always been one of my most favorite songs. So, when I came up with the concept for this anthology it was immediately on my list of possible songs to interpret and fictionalize into a short story. Listening to songs and creating fictional backstories in my head is something I’ve always done (must be the writer in me). For my contribution to BEHIND THE SONG, I read and re-read the lyrics to “All the Lights Went Out” a billion times, listened to the song, and then set to task. When you read my piece you’ll see that I used many lines from the song within the story. To me, that was the most fun part. 

What are some other songs (or albums!) you wish you had a backstory for? 

I’m a HUGE Radiohead fan. “Fake Plastic Trees” was on my shortlist. Really, every one of their songs begs to be interpreted! Silent Film’s “Letters from the Sky” was on my list as well. Such a great song, also ripe for interpretation. Same goes for Paolo Nutini’s “Last Request”. I dare you to listen to that song and not cry.


edited by K.M. Walton
Published: September 5th 2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Publisher (and Tiffany Schmidt, who gets me)

A song to match everyone’s heartbeat.

A soaring melody, a pulse-pounding beat, a touching lyric: Music takes a moment and makes it a memory. It’s a universal language that can capture love, heartbreak, loss, soul searching, and wing spreading—all in the span of a few notes. In Behind the Song, fourteen acclaimed young adult authors and musicians share short stories and personal essays inspired by the songs, the albums, the musicians who move them.

So cue up the playlist and crank the volume. This is an anthology you’ll want to experience on repeat.

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