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1. Blue Arbor is a lake town I made up. Since I have a series set in Grand Haven, Michigan where they also visit Saugatuck, I wanted to create a separate town from those, too. I imagine Blue Arbor as a mix of Holland, Michigan and Spring Lake.
2. I watched (and read) a ton of music bios and documentaries while working on this story. Everyone from Ed Sheeran to Elvis, Marvin Gaye, Ariana Grande, George Michael, and many more. It helped me see what that celebrity lifestyle was like with all the pressures.
3. While I was working on the book, my music crush since I was a kid (George Michael) died. I stopped writing for a bit because he had inspired me a lot to write this. His music kept me going though.
4. I was very close to my aunt, so I wrote an aunt character for Cecily to confide in.
5. I visited two piers while working on this story for the music video shoot scene. One was in Holland, Michigan, and the other was in Grand Haven. Going to places in person and walking the path my characters take helps me set my scenes better.
6. I have had some interesting comments about the Zach character from readers. A lot of mixed feelings there about him because apparently a lot of people know someone like him. I had a male tell me he saw himself in Zach a bit more than he was comfortable with!
7. Cecily feels uncomfortable after her guidance counselor doesn’t seem to think much of her extracurricular activities. I wrote in an assistant principal character who gets Cecily’s love of reading to show that everyone has their unique strengths.
8. Mr. Warwick is loosely based on my father. He loved reading and took an interest in helping his students. I remember him telling me he knew a little girl who loved reading, but she didn’t have books to read at home, so he brought some of his old Hardy Boy books to her classroom.
9. F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of my favorite writers, so I had Cecily start reading him after her assistant principal suggested him to her and found a documentary on him to watch.
10. The documentary Andrew and Cecily both like is Great Gatsby: Midnight in Manhattan. I found it at the library and really got into it. I checked it out so many times that I finally just tracked down a copy of my own.
Andrew sat back and nodded. “Well, Dimitri got the song, you know? He understood what I was looking for—a relationship where two people understand each other on a spiritual level. You know, where their souls connect. Make sense?”
“Yeah, is that what you have with your girlfriend?” I asked hoping it didn’t look like I as phishing for info on who he was dating.
He shook his head. “Nah, I’ve never had anything like that before. But it’s the ultimate idea though, you know? How about you?”
“No, never,” I said and then I felt guilt wash over me. “I mean, I’ve had deep connections with people—just not what you’re talking about or what Dimitri said—the whole deep mystical thing.”
Andrew stared at me and I felt like he was looking into my soul. “Sometimes it feels like it’s impossible to get that connection with anybody. Or you think you’re halfway there and they say they get you, but then something happens and you know they weren’t as deep into it as you were—or at least as deep as you were hoping. That’s the inspiration for next song I’m working on. It’s about when you want to believe so badly that you have a soul connection, then something happens and you realize it was just another superficial relationship. That’s the title: Just Another Superficial Relationship.”
“Wow, I can’t wait to hear it.”
“I can sing you the chorus if you want,” he said.
Holding my breath, I tried to be cool and not squeal with delight that my favorite singer was about to not only sing for me, but let me hear an unreleased song. This was like a dream come true and it made me question if I hadn’t indeed fallen into the water and hit my head on some rocks, and was now either dreaming this in a coma somewhere or this was my own personal version of heaven. I felt guilty for inwardly gushing over Andrew when I had a boyfriend. But this wasn’t about me being interested in going out with Andrew. It would never happen anyway. This was just me meeting my crush who happened to be a singer, who I felt understood my feelings more than anyone else.
Andrew sang the chorus and a warmth washed over me. The song was perfect—the yearning, the longing—I had experienced all of it myself. It was like he had taken all my innermost thoughts and somehow put them into words.
“Amazing,” I said. My whole body was warm as my mind raced. Was I actually sitting here with him and having him trust me enough to share a new song? This was beyond anything I had dreamt of happening today.
Krysten's work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News and on the talk show Living Dayton.
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