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Author Spotlight

Behind the scenes: Ayana Gray shares her biggest inspirations for writing Beasts of Prey!

We asked author Ayana Gray to share her top inspirations for writing her upcoming, HOTLY anticipated debut Beasts of Prey, a fantasy novel about two Black teenagers who strike a dangerous alliance to hunt down the creature menacing their home. And here’s what she had to say!

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My Biggest Book Inspirations


An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir


I will always remember the day AEITA arrived in a package. I took it to work, traveled with it, kept it by my pillow at night–it was so gripping from cover to cover.


The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

city of brass

The City of Brass was the first adult fantasy novel I read that made me feel like I was truly transported. The depth and care with which S.A. describes her world inspired me tremendously, as well as her kindness and humility as a writer.


Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

sorcery of thorns

Sorcery of Thorns made me fall in love with books again. Margaret’s whimsical, clever storytelling was a breath of fresh air–I was devastated when I got to the last page and realized there was no more! 


My Biggest Movie Inspirations

Princess Mononoke (1999)


Princess Mononoke is one of those movies I wish I could watch for the first time over and over. Studio Ghibli productions are always phenomenal and everything about this movie was beautiful. Plus, gods, demons, and giant beasts at war with humans? Sign me up!


Prince of Egypt (1998)


Basically, as a 90s kids who went to church, this was Required Watching. I think I know this entire movie by heart, and the composition by Hans Zimmer are incredible!


Black Panther (2018)


I went to see Black Panther with my family and will always treasure the experience of seeing a movie with Black heroes, villains, side kicks, and love interests all at center stage. Although BP is more Afrofuturistic (BOP is not), the power, beauty, and celebration of Blackness in that movie struck a nerve with me.


My Biggest TV Show Inspirations 

Game of Thrones


I’m a millennial and a lover of fantasy, so this was a given. What I loved most about GOT was that, in its prime, it had universal appeal. People from all backgrounds got to be swept away in a fantastical, unpredictable world. 


The Wild Thornberrys


This was one of my favorite shows as a kid, and follows a young girl named Eliza Thornberry who has the ability to talk to animals, but can’t tell anyone. She travels around the world with her nature documentary-making parents meeting different animals and it may or may not have been my dream as a kid. 


The Crocodile Hunter


Steve Irwin was and still remains the person responsible for my love of animal conservation. Watching him explore the world and appreciate the beauty in creatures only known for being dangerous was really inspiring!



Looking for more Beasts of Prey content? Listen to the official Beasts of Prey playlist here!

Penguin Teen