How long did it take for The Tension of Opposites to go from an idea to a finished copy on store shelves?
Are you sure you want to know the answer to this? I started writing the book in the summer of 2007 – the first draft took 3-4 months to complete. I landed my agent, Alyssa Eisner Henkin, with a slush pile query in May of 2008. And then I hit the hard part . . . revision. With Alyssa’s brilliant guidance, I revised for six months, but the book still wasn’t working. In January of 2009, I deleted all but five chapters and started over. It was hard, but important. The freedom of starting over helped everything to gel together in just the right way. In June of 2009, The Tension of Opposites was pitched to editors and I had three offers in three weeks! The book his shelves on May 25, 2010 – so the short answer to your question is about three years.
Is Tessa and Noelle's story based on any real-life experiences?
Yes, though I would use the term “inspired” instead of “based on”. When I was a young child (3 or 4), I was nearly kidnapped during a burglary-gone-wrong. My mother and I came home from shopping one day, this was before remote garage openers, and found a man in our garage. He took my mother inside, leaving me in the still-running car, and ransacked the house. When he was ready to leave, he piled all of the loot in the car where I still sat, and proceeded to drive away with me. My mother stopped him, luckily, and we were both fine. Comparing my story to others makes me feel like the term “almost kidnapped” is a bit dramatic, as this man was not there specifically for me. But, it’s really the only terminology that fits.
Did you ever find the harrowing subject matter difficult to write about?
Sometimes, when I was really in Noelle’s head, it became difficult. I had to think about what she went through to get the scenes with her right. The journal entries were probably the most difficult emotionally because they were written from her perspective.
Why did you choose to tell the story from best friend Tessa's point of view, rather than Noelle's?
Dirty Little Secret: I tried to write this book from Noelle’s point of view. But she wouldn’t talk to me. Tessa was all up in my face, telling and showing me all sorts of things, but I kept pushing her aside, thinking this book had to be written from the kidnapped-and-returned girl’s perspective. After several attempts to pull Noelle out of the dark, I left her alone and focused on Tessa. Thankfully, that was all Noelle needed to trust me and open up.
What kind of research did you need in order to write The Tension of Opposites? Did you speak to any real life survivors of a similar trauma?
I did a lot of online research about the emotional effects of a kidnapping. I thoroughly researched the Stockholm Syndrome, where a kidnapped victim begins to relate to their kidnapper as a means of survival. I also watched several interviews with Shawn Hornbeck, a young man who was kidnapped at the age of eleven, lived four years with his kidnapper less than an hour from his family, and was finally found and returned to his home at the age of fifteen. His story was the true inspiration for this book. The interviews he did with TLC and 48 Hours were excellent for me to gain insight to the struggle of a kidnap victim.
Did the cover design or image go through any drastic changes along the way?
The two images on the cover have remained the same from the first version. A few things were tweaked along the way – the font style, the placement of the text, and the overall tone of the colors. I was lucky that Egmont was open to any suggestions I offered. At one point, my agent and I asked if we could see a version with the girl, who was originally cast in a dark sepia tint, to be brightened. The change made a huge difference, and I’m glad it stuck.
Is The Tension of Opposites a standalone novel, or will you revisit the characters in the future?
For now, The Tension of Opposites is a standalone.
Can you tell us anything about your next project?
I am currently working on book 2 of my 2-book deal with Egmont USA. That’s about all I can say for now. (Because you never know how much I’ll have to delete during revision!)
- Kristina's site: Kristina Mcbride.com
- Kristina's Twitter: @McBrideKristina
- US publisher's site: Egmont USA
- My review: The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride