ER Congratulations, Krysten on the publication of your new YA contemporary romance, Dating the It Guy. Please tell us a little about it.
KLH Thanks! The book is about a high school girl named Emme who winds up dating the son of a well-known senator. She goes through a lot of self-doubt as she watches his perfect ex-girlfriend trying to get him back and not feeling good enough for his new crowd. It’s a book about love, family, and learning to be yourself.
ER What inspired you to write this story? What was your first idea?
KLH I was watching a biography of John F. Kennedy Jr. and wondering what it’d be like to date someone like that back when he was in high school. I started thinking about all the pressures you’d face being in that world. I started reading a ton of books and info on both JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. Brendon and Emme aren’t based on John and Carolyn, but their love story did inspire me.
ER I would guess Emme would feel out of her comfort zone in Brendon’s world. How does she adapt?
KLH Emme begins to feel out of place and often feels invisible by other girls who try to talk to Brendon when she’s standing right there! There’s a scene where she’s invited to a party at the senator’s home and you see her trying to navigate these very unfamiliar waters. She feels out of place at the party and the finds out Senator Agretti appreciates how she helps out a caterer at the event when everyone else there ignored the girl. We also see how Brendon appreciates what makes her different from his world and how he likes her for those things like her being authentic and real.
ER When Brendon’s picture perfect ex, Lauren, gets into his father, Senator Agretti’s old school, does Emme feel threatened? Does she doubt Brendon and think this has all been planned?
KLH Emme constantly feels threatened by Lauren especially since Lauren pounces and asks Brendon to homecoming the second he and Emme split up. So when Emme gets the news about Lauren getting into the college Brendon planned to attend (like his dad), her heart sinks. If she were to look deeper into what Brendon had shared with her about the future, she’d see what his future plans were.
ER Emme’s last boyfriend cheated on her. It must have left her with trust issues. Does this colour all of Emme’s way of thinking?
KLH Emme is dealing with a lot of mistrust and hurt after her last boyfriend’s betrayal. Her ex, Jon, had been talking to his ex while he was dating Emme and it has left her self-esteem damaged. She’s constantly worrying about being cheated on again with Brendon. Her friends also see how this has impacted her and they try to offer their support.
ER You deal with other issues as well, such as the illness of Emme’s grandparents. How does Emme deal with something like dementia?
KLH Emme is very close to her grandparents and when her grandma gets sick, they become aware of things changing with her grandpa, too. Her grandpa moves in with them and Emme helps care for him. It’s hard for her to watch him become so vulnerable, but she really steps up to be protective of him and help him in this new phase of his life.
ER This is a YA contemporary romance. The story deals with intricate relationships and very real characters. Do you think all age groups will enjoy your story?
KLH I’ve gotten some great feedback from both teens and adults and I love that people enjoy the story for different reasons. Some see themselves in Emme and realize some of her insecurity issues are things they see in themselves. I had a male beta reader who told me he got swept up in the story and he enjoyed seeing Emme’s side of things with her relationship with both Darren and Brendon. Some see themselves in Brendon and how he often has to sacrifice what he wants to do for his family. So I think it’s a story that all age groups can find something in.
Thank you so much for joining me today, Krysten. It’s been an absolute chatting with you. All the best with the book. It sounds fabulous to me.
Besides mining her teen years and humiliating moments for her novels, Krysten is also a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and writes young adult, middle grade, new adult, and adult fiction as well as humor essays. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in Portugal, South Dakota, and currently resides in southwestern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows (she’s addicted to American Dad to the point where she quotes episodes on a daily basis and also loves Girl Meets World). She’s also a third generation Detroit Lions fan.
Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, and Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2). Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book. Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times and on Living Dayton.
Praise for Dating the It Guy:
“A sweet, endearing story—you’ll fall in love with Emme just like I did!” –Kimber Leigh Wheaton, YA/NA author
“Hager’s authentic characters will resonate with readers of all ages as they are immersed in the story – complete with teen drama and angst, but also the relationships which make it all worthwhile.” — Leslie L. McKee, book reviewer, Edits and Reviews by Leslie
Amazon paperback: http://a.co/hBydoYm
and Noble: http://bit.ly/2m5y9OC