I’ve been working on a lot of short stories lately, and today you can read a couple of new ones from me in two excellent young adult anthologies, Behind the Song, edited by K.M. Walton (S0urcebooks), and Feral Youth, edited by Shaun David Hutchinson (Simon & Schuster). I’m proud of both of these pieces, and so honored and thrilled to have contributed to these collections with some true YA rock stars.
Behind the Song
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.
My contribution to Behind the Song is titled “City Girl”, inspired by one of my favorite songs, “Somewhere Only We Know” by Keane. Here’s a brief excerpt:
ANARA TRUDGED THROUGH THE MONOTONOUS TREES, regretting the life choices that had brought her here. They were so far off the beaten path, the terrain was beating them—with low, whiplike branches and loose pebbles and crusty mud patches that were deeper
than they looked. Deep enough to slurp down one of your favorite shoes.
Anara and Trace weren’t supposed to be wandering in this wildlife sanctuary, so she had only herself to blame. She swallowed her frustration. Like the mud had swallowed her left sneaker clean off her damn foot.
“Good point. Nothing about this expedition’s clean,” she muttered.
Ten teens are left alone in the wilderness during a three-day survival test in this multi-authored novel edited by award-winning author Shaun David Hutchinson.
At Zeppelin Bend, an outdoor-education program designed to teach troubled youth the value of hard work, cooperation, and compassion, ten teens are left alone in the wild. The teens are a diverse group who come all walks of life, and were all sent to Zeppelin Bend as a last chance to get them to turn their lives around. They’ve just spent nearly two weeks hiking, working, learning to survive in the wilderness, and now their instructors have dropped them off eighteen miles from camp with no food, no water, and only their packs, and they’ll have to struggle to overcome their vast differences if they hope to survive.
Inspired by The Canterbury Tales, the characters in Feral Youth, each complex and damaged in their own ways, are enticed to tell a story (or two) with the promise of a cash prize. The stories range from noir-inspired revenge tales to mythological stories of fierce heroines and angry gods. And while few of the stories are claimed to be based in truth, they ultimately reveal more about the teller than the truth ever could.
My piece in Feral Youth, “Big Brother”, is very different from my usual, and it kind of surprised and shocked even me. Turns out this isn’t a story you should read at a family friendly bookstore event, though in my defense, no one warned me… Anyway, I love it when fiction takes me to new places and challenges me to grow as a writer, and I think it turned out great. Another brief excerpt, submitted for your approval:
You know that “Invisible Hand” video that went viral a couple of years ago? Of course you do. Everyone’s seen it. As of last month, the last time I had Internet access, it had over two-and-a-half billion views—almost as much as “Gangnam Style.” I bet if it were shorter and had music, if would be number one. Missed opportunities. On the other hand, people have cut it down and remixed it with everything from the Ghostbusters theme (too obvious) to Hamilton’s “Satisfied” (strangely satisfying), and there’s just no beating the original. Pun intended.
Okay, so if you haven’t seen it, you’ve probably heard about it, unless you’ve been living under a rock, or living without Wi-Fi, which is the same thing. The original video’s really long, about six hours—six hours, seven minutes, forty-two seconds to be exact. Sure, most viewers only watch a certain seventeen minutes near the beginning, but the length of the video helps make the case for its authenticity.
You really haven’t seen it? Okay. The video shows a pretty average teenage girl’s bedroom and a pretty average teenage girl sleeping in bed. The light’s on, which, yeah, maybe seems weird. A lot of people have pointed to that as evidence that it’s a hoax, but there’s a reason for it, trust me. And she’s sleeping on top of the covers with gym shorts and a tank top. There’s a book next to her, but you can’t quite make out what it is. It’s The Martian Chronicles.
I hope you’ll consider checking out these anthologies; chances are, you’ll connect strongly with at least one of the stories in each of them, and even if you don’t enjoy mine, I can guarantee the other stories are amazing. If you do pick them up and read them, online reviews and recommendations to your book-loving friends are always greatly appreciated!