Traveler Playlist

This playlist really feels like a soundtrack I’d expect to hear while reading Traveler.

Go to this playlist on Spotify: Books, TRAVELER

1. SUCH GREAT HEIGHTS by The Postal Service

This is Quin and Shinobu for me. Connected all their lives, fitting together like puzzle pieces. Asking themselves if they want to be part of the messy world they were born into, or would they rather sneak off somewhere alone together and be other people, people who can simply be in love and paying no attention to anyone else. Can you guess what they choose?

I, I’m thinking it’s a sign
That the freckles in our eyes are mirror images
And when we kiss they’re perfectly aligned

They will see us waving from such great heights
“Come down now,” they’ll say
But everything looks perfect from far away
“Come down now!” But we’ll stay

2. SIMPLE MATH by Manchester Orchestra

This song was also on the SEEKER playlist, but I have it on the TRAVELER playlist as well because the lyrics capture so many things about this story. All the lies that surrounded Quin as she grew up, all her hopes which turned out to be misplaced. She has to strike out on her own, find her own way, find the truth for herself.

What if you were crazy, would we have to listen then?
What if we’ve been trying to get to where we’ve always been?
What if I was wrong, and started trying to fix it?
What if you believed me? Everything is brilliant

3. WHEN I’M SMALL by Phantogram

This song captures the atmosphere of the story. Future mixed with past, high buildings in Hong Kong, the wide sweep of the great canopy over the Transit Bridge, Quin jumping through the high hospital window out into nighttime London…


This is captures Shinobu, how much he loves Quin, how much he hopes his own flaws and mistakes will not ruin everythig between them. It also has really creepy lyrics, which I totally love.

I had a thought, dear
However scary
About that night
The bugs and the dirt
Why were you digging?
What did you bury
Before those hands pulled me
From the earth?

5. THE ONLY ONE by Manchester Orchestra

Shinobu is struggling in this book with which thoughts are his own and which belong to someone else. He’s not sure how much to trust himself, and this song jumps right into the middle of that feeling.

I am the only one
that thinks I’m going crazy
and I don’t know what to do

6. WAIT by M83

This song is also on the SEEKER playlist, because I love it. I love the whole HURRY UP WE’RE DREAMING album. But this song in particular stays with me. Melancholy and inspiring, as big as the blackness of space and as small as the beat of a heart, WAIT rolls stories through my head and emotions through my chest like no other song. If you haven’t seen the terrific music video by Fleur and Manu, watch it immediately! When I was writing Traveler, this song made me think of desolate areas of Scotland when Quin and Sinobu explore them, and the wide horizon in Africa as John runs across the desert.

7. BUNNY CLUB by Polly Scattergood

This song makes me think of a dark club on the Transit Bridge in Hong Kong, with a pulsing beat and strobe lights, but it’s a song ABOUT those things rather than the sort of song you’d hear IN a place like that. It makes me think of Catherine and Mariko trying to be normal teenagers in the club on the Bridge, but still not quite fitting in, because their lives have taken anything but a normal course. But Catherine is hoping, for just a little while, to be someone different…

You’ll have the
Ride of your life
Underneath these
Pink fluorescent lights

8. BAD WINGS by The Glitch Mob

This is the soundtrack to the fight Quin and Shinobu unexpectedly find themselves in when they happen upon the Watchers’ hiding place, but really it could accompany several of the intense chapters in this book.

9. SHIRTSLEEVES by Ed Sheeran

This song perfectly captures the feeling of betrayal between lovers. I don’t want to give too much away, but there is a version of that sort of betrayal in the book, and Ed Sheeran manages to convery the sadness and the tenderness all in one song.

I still taste salt water
On my lips from your kiss, bitterness
And I’ll drown within the oceans you made

10. KATHERINE KISS ME by Franz Ferdinand

This song is almost too perfetly suited to the first times Catherine and Archie meet and maybe overcome their initial revulsion to each other. Well, it was never really revulsion, was it? It was something like an attraction that Catherine refused to acknowledge. Does she end up acknowledging it? Does she end up giving Archie a chance? Maybe this song gives us some clues about where their relationship is heading.

Yes I love you
I mean I
I’d love to get to know you
Sometimes I say the stupid things I think
I mean I
Sometimes I think the stupidest things
Oh and do you ever wonder
How the boy feels?

11. FUTURISTIC CASKET by Phantogram

Another atmospheric song that captures the feeling of the cities in TRAVELER. This one conjures images of the Watchers streaming over the great swells of sails that form the canopy over the Transit Bridge in Hong Kong.

I must have died
a thousand times
when I get out
I’ll rule the earth


This song makes me think about Nott, finally questioning who he’s become. I see him alone in that cold cave, wondering what will become of himself and wondering how much he is to blame for his situation.

13. SLEEP TONIGHT by Stars

Quin and Shinobu, and with this song I think of her pulling him out of the woods away from the Watchers who would attack him, searchig for him when he leaves her, and at last finding him.

With buried heads we both forget
All of the past and its regret
Wind picks up, the window shakes
We won’t hear the morning break

You will cry
And I will cry
‘Cuz all the love’s
Alive tonight

14. IS THERE A GHOST by Band of Horses

This song captures John’s crisis of conscience. Is he a sum of all the things his mother and grandmother have forced him to be? Is he his own person? He’s spent his whole life haunted by the ghosts of those he loved.

15. SAYS by Nils Frahm

This song is a great atmospheric soundtrack to the locations in this book. The music brings to mind images of cold and lonely mornings in the Scottish Highlands, with mist rising from a lake to crawl over ancient trees. I see dirty and dark alleys in Hong Kong, in the desolate hour just before dawn, I see a frozen landscape stretching away to a northern sea. What do you see in this song?