Today's author interview is with Kristina McBride, whose book The Tension Of Opposites debuted May 25th.
It’s been two years since Noelle disappeared. Two years since her bike was discovered, sprawled on a sidewalk. Two years of silence, of worry, of fear.
For those two long years, her best friend Tessa has waited, living her own life in a state of suspended animation. Because how can she allow herself to enjoy a normal high school life if Noelle can’t? How dare she have other friends, go to dances, date boys, without knowing what happened to the girl she thought she would share everything with?
And then one day, someone calls Noelle’s house. She’s alive.
A haunting psychological thriller taken straight from the headlines, The Tension of Opposites is a striking debut that explores the emotional aftermath of a kidnapping on the victim, and on the people she left behind.
Hey Kristina! Tell us a little about yourself as a writer – do you outline, or wing it? Do you write daily, or in snatches?
I outline as well as wing it. I usually start without much of a plan, inspired by a scene or character. Then, as I dig deeper, I try to write a list of scenes/chapters, which I transfer to note cards. Once I reach that point, I can easily play around with the order of things. I do write daily, trying to catch as many quiet moments as I can with two little ones running underfoot in my hectic household.
When – and why – did you begin writing?
I started writing as a young child, just silly things, and moved to journaling and poetry as a teen. When I hit college, I wrote some short stories. The problem was I could never keep them short. In my 20s I graduated my efforts to writing novels, and just recently narrowed my focus to YA. As for the why part of my writing, that’s kind of like asking me why I breathe. I don’t really think about it, writing is just something I have to do.
What was your process writing this book? What did you have trouble with, and what inspired you?
I was inspired during a rare moment of free time, when I was flipping through channels on TV, and stopped to watch an interview Oprah was conducting with a young man who had recently been returned to his family after spending four years with his kidnapper. This kid was absolutely amazing, so strong to have survived his ordeal. I couldn’t get him out of my mind, and soon after the interview, I began writing the story of Tessa, whose best friend has just been found alive two years after her kidnapping.
Writing that first draft was easy. When I landed my agent, the hard part began. I spent eleven months revising, and about six months into the process, scrapped almost everything to start a complete rewrite. It’s exhausting to even think about, but I’m glad I kept going!
What did it take to get The Tension of Opposites on bookshelves?
Lots of patience, hard work, and perseverance. Oh, and tons of chocolate!
Name one minor character you like particularly, and why.
Coop, the younger brother of kidnapped-and-returned Noelle, is one of my favorite minor characters. He’s funny and a little obnoxious, exactly what I would order up if I could have a little brother of my own.
From the title and cover, it would be easy to assume that The Tension of Opposites is all about the themes of kidnapping and emotional fallout. But I hear you’ve got a bit of light romance in there too. How did you balance these two opposing themes?
I didn’t want this book to be consumed with dark and dreary scenes. And really, it’s about Tessa’s struggle to overcome her own issues, which are a direct result of the kidnapping. In dealing with her survivor’s guilt, she isolated herself from the world, which means she hasn’t allowed herself to get close to any guys. Max appeared in my head one day, and I knew Tessa had a crush on him, but couldn’t deal with her emotions because of Noelle’s return. Luckily for Tessa, Max is not only persistent, but also patient, and he likes her in return.
Here on Headdesk, I have a minor obsession with the rules of writing. Is there any particular rule you write by?
Something I have begun telling myself lately is, “Trust your process.” It’s a direct quote from my agent, and it helps so much when I’m stuck on a particular point in my writing or revision.
If knew you a teenager who aspired to be a novelist, what would you say to them?
Write. Write. And write some more. Set goals for yourself, and then plan the steps you need to take to reach those goals. This is cheesy, I know, but if you persist, your dreams really can come true!
How have you grown as a writer, and how do you hope to see yourself grow in the future?
Geesh, you ask some hard questions! I’m still in the stage where I’m not sure that all this is real. I feel that my main growth in the last year is moving from aspiring author to professional author (crazy!). I hope that I can continue to write books that I am proud of, to create characters that people can relate to, and maybe even put out some books that will sweep people away.
What’s next for Kristina McBride?
I’m working on the second book in my 2-book deal with Egmont USA. That’s about all I can say for now.
Ooh. Sounds mysterious. Thanks for participating, Kristina, and best of luck!
Kristina McBride has dreamed of being a published author since she was a child and lived across the street from a library. After graduating with a bachelor’s in English Education, Kristina taught high school English for eight years. After having her first child and completing her Master’s in Education, Kristina decided to quit teaching and take a crack at her dream. Kristina lives in Ohio with her husband and two young children, stealing as many moments as she can to write, write, write. You can learn more about Kristina by visiting her website or her blog.