LOVE AT THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN
A YA Romance Anthology
From Stars and Stone Books
It's never easy to go through the fraught transition into adulthood, but the teens in this anthology have more to deal with than most: super powers, magic, illness, prejudice against sexual orientation and gender identity, and even death. Fortunately, they all find love at the edge of seventeen.
Featuring: M.T. DeSantis, A.E. Hayes, Serena Jayne, Cara McKinnon, Mary Rogers, and Kylie Weisenborn.
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For our blog tour, we asked each of our authors to provide 3–5 songs that would be on their story’s soundtrack, if it were made into a TV show or movie. These aren’t necessarily songs the authors listened to while writing. Instead, they provide additional atmosphere and emotional resonance to certain parts of the stories. Check out the Spotify playlist and read the authors’ explanations while you listen!
M.T. DeSantis, “Be Null, My Heart”
Cotton-Eye Joe- This song is actually featured in the book, so it would make sense in my version of the soundtrack. This continues to be my favorite formal occasion group dancing song. I couldn’t envision writing a prom story without putting this song in there. Even if you just jump around in a vague facsimile of the actual moves, it’s so much fun. Emma and Brandon certainly enjoy themselves during it.
Super Girl by Krystal Harris- I was introduced to this song when I watched the Princess Diaries movie (Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews, Mandy Moore). The song fits Emma, being the daughter of two superheroes and on her way to superhero-dom herself. As the song says “I’m here to save the world, but I wanna know who’s gonna save me.” Emma is more than capable of taking care of herself, but when disaster strikes, even the strongest (superstrongest) heroes need some rescuing. I see this song playing over the montage of Emma arriving at school and going to class toward the beginning of the story.
Remember Me this Way by Jordan Hill – So, know that kid who loved the movie Casper so much she re-rented it over and over from the movie rental store for months (because she was, like, eight, and didn’t realize buying the movie would be less expensive than renting it over and over)? Yeah, that’s me. I don’t know why that movie captured my love the way it did, but it’s still one of my favorites. I mean, the preteen romance between Casper (Malachi Pearson) and Kat (a very young Christina Ricci) is adorable. (Also, Eric Idle, but I digress.) Anyway, this is not the song Emma and Brandon slow-dance to in the story, but I kind of put this song on in my mental playlist whenever I read a YA slow-dance scene. Thus, it’s on my soundtrack for “Be Null, My Heart.”
A.E. Hayes, “Her First Fever”
“Say Something” by A Great Big World featuring Christina Aguilera. There are times when all of us – from children to adults – want to give up, because it’s easier. It’s easier to give up than to fight. But if given a reason to stay and fight, would you? Would you say something before it all comes tumbling down? This song mentions that and is relevant to the two main characters in my story.
“Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Rey. When we’re younger, we sometimes feel ugly, both internally and externally. But what we often never see is that external beauty is granted to the young in myriad ways and can fade with age. What happens when it does fade sooner than expected? Can you still look beyond the image to see the beauty? This song fits that notion – “Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful? Will you still love me when I’ve got nothing but my aching soul?”
“Fix You” by Coldplay. This is an extremely personal song for me, to the point where it’s hard for me to talk about. But it fits my main characters as well, especially my main female character, Madeline. But what is she trying to fix? And can she?
Serena Jayne, “Dead Man’s Party”
“Dead Man’s Party” by Oingo Boingo. This song inspired the title of the story. Would be great to play at the beginning or the end.
“Living Dead Girl” and “American Witch” by Rob Zombie. Shay and I are both big Rob Zombie fans. Shay sings “Living Dead Girl” when she and Xander roam the halls of Arcane Academy at night.
“Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” by Waylon Jennings. In an early version of this story, Shay sang this song’s title, replacing the word “cowboys” with “zombies.” This one is fun because it makes me think of Xander’s career conflict. Might be fun during Xander’s scene with his mom.
“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift. My favorite song of boyfriend woe. Would be great after Xander comments on songs about boyfriend woes.
Cara McKinnon, “Three Jagged Pieces”
I did something differently with this story than I’ve done before. I usually can’t write to music with lyrics, but in order to try and get into my teenaged characters’ heads, I felt like I needed to listen to the music they might be listening to. There’s nothing on this playlist from before 2000, and most of it is from 2010 to the present. It’s mostly pop, but I put some recent musical numbers on there, too. Here are some of the important songs from that list:
“You Matter to Me” from Waitress by Sara Bareilles. I actually mention this song in the story, because it ties in to the way Noah is feeling in one scene—that all he really wants is to matter to someone—or rather, to two someones. I also use that as a chance to set Noah up as polyamorous; he laments that people feel like they need to have all of their emotional, physical, and other needs met by a single person. Obviously, that doesn’t always (ever?) work.
“Shatter Me” by Lindsey Stirling (featuring Lzzy Hale). This song is about being stuck in a place that is safe, but isolated and alone. Every one of my characters has to take the risk, break the glass, and fly. There might not have been anyone to catch them—but luckily for the three of them, they found each other.
“What About Us?” by P!nk. This is from the broken middle of the story, when Sam is pulled away from the people he loves by other people that he loves. Except that their love is toxic, and selfish, and controlling. So, this is the song for the ones that are hurt. The ones who find the strength to ask for the things they deserve. Who find love on the other side of pain.
“Lionheart” by Demi Lovato. I feel like this is the song for my trio at the end of the story. Different parts of the song belong to different members of the trio, but they would all sing together at the end: “We stand together facing the world, and our love is gonna conquer it all. We are lionhearts.”
“This Is Me,” from The Greatest Showman. I really wish I had watched this movie before I wrote this story, because I would have found a way to feature this song somewhere in the narrative. This song speaks to my soul, and it would speak to my characters, too, especially Ava. A bit of personal stuff: I have an endocrine disorder called PCOS that causes me to have a higher-than-normal level of androgens in my system. That causes weight gain (especially in the abdomen) and excessive body hair. Historically, real bearded ladies probably had PCOS or something like it. So to have this song sung by a bearded lady who looks like me (except that I am crazy about keeping up with depilatories) really broke me open. When I heard her sing, “I know that I deserve your love / cause there's nothing I'm not worthy of,” I ugly cried. I need to hear that, on a repeating basis, all day long. So do Ava, Noah, and Sam. I bet you could stand to hear it, too. You are worth it.
Mary Rogers, “The Crayon Thief”
“Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks – because that’s our theme and that’s also a great song. It has a great story, too, which I included.
“The Way You Make Me Feel” by Michael Jackson, because when you’re writing romance, YA or any, really, it’s about how you feel. How he or she makes you feel.
Anything Journey, but I’m going to focus on Steve Perry’s indie song “Oh, Sherry.”
Anything Bruce Springsteen, because I am a child of the 1980’s, and that’s when I was in school, and going through this stuff.
Anything happy, because I love writing happy endings.
Kylie Weisenborn, “Now I Am”
Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” would play in the beginning as we learn about Annalyn’s sad life as a ghost.
Taylor Swift’s “Our Song” would play during a montage of the two main characters flirting/spending time getting to know each other.
Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me” would play when they make up after she finds out the truth and decides she doesn’t want to be apart from Carter.