The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos - Blog Tour, Guest Post, and Giveaway (US ends 1/22)

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The “Superpower Song”

When I was six years old, Santa brought me a two-octave Magnus organ. Encased in dark brown plastic, with a whirring fan that was louder than the music produced by pressing any of its twenty-five keys, the organ was, to me, a gift from heaven.

I started making music that day and haven’t stopped since. While I have always written (I love books so much that I built my entire professional career in publishing), it has been music fueling the very beats of my pulse for as long as I can remember.

So then, it was with incredible glee that I accepted an invitation from the creators of Read Now Sleep Later, to discuss the “Superpower Song.” What is the one song over the course of your life—or maybe more than one—that, when you hear it, gives you superpowers?

Before I reveal my top three, let’s talk a little bit about the whole concept of a “superpower song.” I personally think of this more in terms of X-Men than, say, Superman. Each X-Man (really, X-Person) has his or her own special power—a crippling touch, crazy fire eyes, and, of course, metallic claws and unlimited healing powers. The musical superpower song is, to me, just the same.

Rather than thinking of a single song (or musical experience) that gave me all encompassing powers, many different songs come to mind, each tapping into a different part of my psyche. Here’s are my top three superpowers and their concordant songs:

Shooting lightning from my fingertips (pure “want-to-dance-and-scream-and-shout” adrenaline): R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World.”

I once got a speeding ticket in New Jersey because I was driving twice the limit while this song was on the radio. I didn’t realize just how fast I was going until the policeman pulled me over. The excuse of “But it’s R.E.M.,” didn’t work with the cop. The lyrics, each line piled on top of the one that preceded it, the infectious chorus with the great backing vocals, the whole thing just gets me moving. (I love this video clip, mostly because of the frenetic energy of the crowd.)

Shield of armor (sanity and stability): Johnny Cash and Hank Williams Jr.’s “That Old Wheel.”

I discovered this song during a period in my life when I was adrift, when I was feeling blue. The “it will all be okay” message resonated with me like no other has before or since. It’s the one song I turn to when I need strength, when I need to know that I’m really all right. (While I can’t find a live version of Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, Jr., I love this version. I stumbled across it on YouTube. Thank you Internets.)

Power to Heal (“lump-in-my-throat” feelings of love and intimacy): Joe Jackson’s “A Slow Song.”

The very first time I heard this song, I heard it live, at a Joe Jackson concert as part of New York City’s fabled “Concerts on the Pier” series. (They weren’t fabled at the time.) The performance was big, it was cinematic. When I bought the album—Night and Day—the next morning, I played that track over and over and over again. Best of all, this song is actually about the transformative superpower of a slow song at the end of a long day.

And one bonus superpower, Happiness (yes, happiness): Woofing Cookies’ “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”

Okay, I’m kind of cheating here. You may or may not know that the backdrop for The Scar Boys, my debut YA novel, is based on my own experience in playing in Woofing Cookies, a 1980s punk-pop band. We did an interesting cover of Peter, Paul, and Mary’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” To this day, thinking about playing that song, with those guys, brings a smile to my face. The performance in the video is the quintessential Cookies. So there you have take on superpower songs. What are yours?

About the author:

Len Vlahos is the Executive Director of BISG (Book Industry Study Group) and the former COO of the American Booksellers Association, where he worked for the past 20 years. Len has also worked in numerous bookstores, was an on-air personality for a commercial radio station in Atlantic City, and worked for a time for Internet marketing guru Seth Godin. THE SCAR BOYS is his first book. You can visit him online at and on Twitter @LenVlahos.

About the book:

A severely burned teenager. A guitar. Punk rock. The chords of a rock 'n' roll road trip in a coming-of-age novel that is a must-read story about finding your place in the world...even if you carry scars inside and out.

In attempting to describe himself in his college application essay--help us to become acquainted with you beyond your courses, grades, and test scores--Harbinger (Harry) Jones goes way beyond the 250-word limit and gives a full account of his life.

Read the full description on Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule

Mon, Jan 13 - I Read Banned Books
Tues, Jan 14 - Guys Lit Wire
Wed, Jan 15 - Read Now, Sleep Later
Thurs, Jan 16 - The Book Monsters
Fri, Jan 17 -
Mon, Jan 20 - The Compulsive Reader
Tues, Jan 21 - Mother Daughter Book Club
Wed, Jan 22 - A.L. Davroe
Thurs, Jan 23 - Adventures in YA Publishing
Fri, Jan 24 - Geo Librarian