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Love Music, Love Writing: YA Authors Who Are Also Musicians

2013 November 8
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Have you ever known a really successful person who, now that you think of it, is also a musician? A recent New York Times piece explores this very phenomenon and finds that the link is not exactly a coincidence.

Is music the key to success?“Strikingly, many high achievers told me music opened up the pathways to creative thinking. And their experiences suggest that music training sharpens other qualities: Collaboration. The ability to listen. A way of thinking that weaves together disparate ideas. The power to focus on the present and the future simultaneously.”

This article got me thinking: how many authors of teen literature are musicians themselves? As successes in their field, it would stand to reason there would be quite a few. Below are the ones I was able to come up with; I am sure there are more. Let me know who I’ve missed in the comments!

  • Maggie Stiefvater (The Shiver trilogy, the Raven Cycle, The Scorpio Races) plays the bagpipes, along with several other instruments. Wikipedia notes that she “played the highland bagpipes competitively while in college, and began a Celtic band, Ballynoola, that toured on the eastern seaboard.” According to her web site, this 2012 Printz Honor winning author also composes the music for all of her book trailers.
  • Daniel Handler aka Lemony Snicket (2012 Printz Honor book Why We Broke Up, A Series of Unfortunate Events, All the Wrong Questions series) plays the accordion and has done so as a part-time member of The Magnetic Fields and other Stephin Merritt projects. On NPR’s Fresh Air, he mentions, “I had a very, very strict and traditional musical upbringing.”
  • Colin Meloy (Wildwood Chronicles series) almost didn’t get the first book written when his band, The Decemberists, really took off.
  • Frank Portman (King Dork, Andromeda Klein) boasts a prolific output as Dr. Frank of The Mr. T Experience.
  • Gretchen McNeil (Possess, Ten, 3:59) is an opera singer. According to her web site, she “is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4’s Code Monkeys and she sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk.”
  • Antony John (Five Flavors of Dumb, The Elemental series) studied classical music for all of his early career, and even has a PhD in musical composition.
  • Chris Colfer (The Land of Stories series) has performed in high school, community theater, and TV’s Glee as a singer.
  • Charles de Lint (recently interviewed on the Hub) states,”My love of music has gone hand-in-hand with my love for books from very early on, the former often providing the soundtrack for the latter, which is how I got into traditional Celtic music.” He has followed this passion in and out of professional gigs over the decades.

-Becky O’Neil, currently reading The Boy on the Bridge, by Natalie Standiford

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One Response
  1. Tamara permalink
    November 9, 2013

    I had no idea! The Decemberists? The Magnetic Fields?

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