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Archive for May 25th, 2022

Krysten Lindsay Hager: JFK Jr., Book Inspiration, and Me
Wednesday, May 25th, 2022

Years ago, I was in high school reading an article about John F. Kennedy Jr. and started wondering what it’d be like to deal with that level of scrutiny. As it was, I felt very judged in my hometown, so it threw me into imaging what he must have felt in his everyday life. Later in college, I wrote a short story imagining a teenage girl who was dating a guy who was basically a high school version of JFK Jr. I kept thinking about all the focus that had been on his wife, Carolyn, and I decided to turn that short story into a novel. I read (and watched) a lot of biographies on John and Carolyn and got a feel for what their lives were like behind closed doors. I read about insecurities they had, the opportunities he couldn’t take because of his family name, and what it was like living in a fishbowl with strangers watching you grow up and having an opinion on everything you did.

I really got into what it would be like to grow up where every move you made was watched, so then I imagined this teenage girl, Emme, who already has insecurity issues after being in a bad first relationship. I had Emme find a soulmate connection with this popular guy named Brendon who is also a well-known senator’s son. Brendon is trying so hard to live up to the family name and be the perfect son and student, but he is overwhelmed by the pressures on him. In my short story, I had given him a love interest that was his opposite, so I made Emme much more carefree and laidback. I pictured Brendon being on all these school committees and clubs and worried about grades and getting into his dad’s former college, while Emme is busy just being a normal high school student and trying to get on the school newspaper staff.

Then I thought about how important family ties were to JFK Jr. as I felt that connection with him as John passed shortly after I lost my grandpa. I wanted to include what my family had gone through with my grandfather’s dementia, and I thought I could have both Emme and Brendon dealing with grandparents with health issues which winds up cementing their bond even more. Brendon and Emme became more real to me as I was writing, and I almost felt bad giving this couple so many relationship obstacles on their path to true love. Notice I say, “almost.”

I re-released the updated book, Dating the It Guy, this April and since so many readers had asked if I’d do a sequel, I thought instead I would write an epilogue of what happens to Emme and Brendon couple years later after they graduate from college. In one way I was giving the readers a look into the future, but it was also a way for me to give my characters a happily ever after since it’s always been so sad that John and Carolyn’s lives were cut short. I learned a lot about John and Carolyn in my research and came to admire them both.

You can find the book here:

Clip of me reading an excerpt of the book on Book Notes:

About Me

I write novels about friendships, crushes, hope, dealing with self-doubt, finding where you belong as well as your soulmate. My sister says my books are an airing of my grievances, but I like to think I’m just working through issues via my characters to help my readers work through theirs. Either way, the bumps along the road gave me a lot of material.

I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but my mom made me show her I was serious about it my senior year when she signed me up for writing conferences to see if I’d sink or swim. Who knew I’d finally feel like I fit in somewhere…well, fit in-ish. I love reading, TV shows, watching strangers’ IG stories, and lipstick.