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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Interview with Kristina McBride

Happy Wednesday! Here's an interview with YA author Kristina McBride, whose debut novel The Tension Of Opposites comes out May 25th, 2010.


Up / Down
Hot / Cold
Free / Noelle

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.


Q: What was your querying process like?

A: Crazy long and painful. I’ll make it quick. Manuscript 1: Over 100 rejections – only one partial requested (Um, what was I thinking?). No offers for representation in 2006. Manuscript 2: roughly 50 rejections – 5 partials & 2 fulls requested. No offers for representation in 2007. Manuscript 3 – From my first batch of 20 queries, I had roughly 10 requests for partials and fulls. I was pleased and excited to accept representation from Alyssa Eisner Henkin with Trident Media Group in May of 2008.

Q: On your website, it says you were nearly kidnapped. Can you tell us about that? How much did that influence The Tension of Opposites? What else sparked the idea for The Tension of Opposites?

A: One day when I was very young, my mother and I returned home to find a man in our garage. He took her inside, leaving me in the car in the driveway, and while he ransacked our house, he lost the keys to the stolen car he had parked in our garage. He put all the stolen items in the car I was still sitting in, and almost drove away with me. So, “kidnapping” is a strong term since he wasn’t after me, specifically, but he would have taken me if my mother hadn’t pleaded with him. Because of that day, that story from my childhood, I have always feared being kidnapped. Which is why I was so drawn to the story of a young man who Oprah interviewed several years ago. He had recently been returned to his family after spending four years with his kidnapper. I was captivated, and soon after watching that show, Tessa started speaking to me.

Q: Many of us aspiring authors have dreamed about the Call, for both the offer of representation and the book deal. What was yours like?

A: The Call when I was offered representation was very professional and businesslike. I was terrible nervous! But it was good! Very, very good! I connected with Alyssa immediately and knew she would be perfect to help me launch my career.

The Call when I learned of my first offer was much different. It was a horribly hot summer day, and I had just returned from a family trip to the pool. When the phone rang, I didn’t even hear it. Why? I was in the bathroom scrubbing two sticky children, who were screaming and writhing like I was giving them a bath in acid. It wasn’t until later that I saw the blinking light on the answering machine.

“Great,” I thought. “What next?”

All I wanted was to sit back and relax, but I hit the play button. When I heard the voice of my agent, I knew it would be something big because she had NEVER called me without scheduling. I shrieked with delight and ran to tell my husband the good news. We celebrated later by taking the kids out for ice cream. Which made them sticky all over again. But I didn’t care one bit!

Q: Are any of your characters based off people you know?

A: While there are little traits in my characters that you might find in my friends (my BFF in high school always wanted a yellow Jeep) or family (my Grandpa Lou loved taking photographs and owned an old-school Nikon), none of the characters are based on anyone in particular.

Q: Can you tell us about the extensive revisions you made with your agent, Alyssa Eisner Henkin? Was there ever a time you felt like giving up?

A: Oh, dear. I worked on revisions with Alyssa for nearly a year. I knew I was in for it from our very first call when she warned me that my manuscript needed a “major overhaul”, and greatly appreciate her patience and guidance. That said, it was HARD. I allowed myself specific evenings to wallow in self-pity and eats loads of chocolate, but I never once felt like giving up. To be painfully specific, I submitted four drafts, changed the title three times, and six months into revisions, dropped everything but five chapters to basically start over. Ouch. That hurts to admit ☺

Q: Does music help you write? Do you have a special playlist for The Tension of Opposites?

A: Music (or any background noise) throws me off when I’m writing. I prefer complete silence, which is rare in my house. If I had to pick one song that comes to mind when I think of my novel, I’d say it’s Don’t Follow by Alice in Chains. It’s Noelle’s song, all the way.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: The second book in my two-book deal with Egmont USA. That’s all I can say for now.

Q: What some of your favorite YA books you’ve read recently?

A: I was fortunate enough to get my hands on an ARC of Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards Amazing.

Q: Why write for young adults? Is it the audience you always planned on writing for?

A: My first manuscript was an adult suspense/thriller. It obviously didn’t go over too well (see my query issues above). Two of the main characters in that manuscript were teens, and after completing it, I realized that the scenes with them flowed better than any of the other scenes, and the dialogue seemed to come to me without much effort. They were the most fun to write, and to read and revise. I was a high school English teacher for eight years, and I really connect with the young adult age group. Basically, I just think it’s fun to read and write about teens. Teens face so many struggles, and it’s interesting to play around with plotlines that surround those types of issues.







Amna said...

you were right.
this is a very inspiring interviw!
and the book sounds AWESOME.
great job!

Becca Cooper said...

Great interview, B!! :D
There are so many awesome books coming out this year I don't know how I'm going to afford them!

choco (In Which a Girl Reads) said...

Great interview!

It's so interesting to read about the querying and revising process, and this book sounds amazing!

Jen said...

Holy Space Cows this was fantastic!!! What an amazing interview! All the work and excitement she went through, I can't wait to experience that, and the book sounds fantastic!!!!

Kara said...

Love hearing about authors who persisted through many rejections. There is hope for us!!

M.J. Horton said...

This is really inspiring! She's a really determined woman! Awesome interview BC!

Anonymous said...

Great interview! Extremely inspiring for all of us querying. Never give up.


Emilia Joyce Plater said...

Awesome interview, you two! That almost-kidnapping story is captivating.

Anonymous said...

These were such fun interview questions to answer! Thanks, B, for taking the time to let some people know about my book. And thanks, everyone, for all your kind comments.


Mindy said...

I love reading your interviews!! :) You give me inspiration to keep going. There are some days I feel like this process will never end..But I know that I just need to take it one step at a time. You keep my faith alive and my hope strong! I can't wait to read your book! I'm soooo excited!! When you have a signing, I'm totally coming. ;)

Bookalicious Ramblings said...

Very interesting interview - thanks for posting! I can't wait to read this book, it sounds great!

La-La-La-Laurie said...

Awesome interview, Bailey! Loved it.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful interview! Thank you both for the insight. I admire Kristina perseverance through it all. Can't wait for her book.

bclement412 said...

Thanks for stopping by Kristina, and thanks for offering yourself up for this ;)

And thank you guys for the great comments!

Bee said...

I've heard a lot about this book. I'll be looking out for it :D
And that cover totally complements the title!

Jon Paul said...

Bailey--Great interview. Listen, I got an award this morning out of the blue and I'm passing it along.

Tag, you're it!

Amy Saia said...

This was great to read. Thanks!

Jame said...

Thanks for the mention Kristina! Great interview.

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