Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Very First Author Interview!! With Kristina McBride

So, yesterday I posted my review of Kristina McBride's THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES. And today, I'm interviewing the author herself!  

Seriously, Kristina's awesome and has some really great stuff to share! Make sure you check out her silly answers at the end too--AND one lucky commenter will win a signed copy of her book!!!

First, here's a little bit about Kristina:

Kristina McBride, a former high-school English teacher and yearbook advisor, wrote The Tension of Opposites in response to the safe return of a child who was kidnapped while riding his bike to a friend’s house. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two young children. This is her first novel. Visit her online at www.kristinamcbride.com.

So everyone, please welcome Kristina to the Babbling Flow!

I’m just going to dive right in here! The inside cover states the story was ripped from the headlines—and in your bio, I read that you wrote this in response to the safe return of a child who was kidnapped while riding his bike to a friend’s house. I’m sure your creativity propelled the story forward, but how much research did you do to ensure you were telling a story that was compelling but also believable? (Because THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES is definitely both!) 
Thank you so much! To ensure that I would be offering a truly realistic story, I did quite a bit of research on two main subjects: Kidnapped-and-returned victims, and the kidnappers themselves. While I did not carbon copy any one child’s experience, I did take some small bits of inspiration from these stories. For instance, in an interview, one girl talked about how much she hated the smell of coffee when she returned home after spending months with her kidnapper – this was so moving to me, I had to use it. These details helped me get to know Noelle better, and pulled her story to a more powerful level. The interviews and stories I reviewed helped me ensure that I had the right tone and feeling as far as Noelle’s return. In regards to research topic number two, the kidnappers, I focused mainly on the legal issues they face. I couldn’t just ignore Charlie Croft, the kidnapper, after Noelle returned home. Though we never meet him, he is an essential character to the book, and I wanted to make sure that the legal parts of his story would be accurate.
Gah! You're a stronger woman than I. Researching the kidnappers would scare the heck out of me! 

Tessa’s the main character, but really Tessa wouldn’t be Tessa without Noelle. Heck, the book wouldn’t be the book without Noelle. So, let’s talk about Noelle. I’d imagine you really had to inhabit this character, to write her as realistically as you did. How did you do it? I mean, just reading her was hard for me at times—so heartbreaking. Was it difficult to write her? 
At first, it was totally impossible. Funny what can happen when you try to write a book – the characters often won’t cooperate. When I started the first draft of The Tension of Opposites, I attempted to write the book from Noelle’s point of view. But she was silent. Tessa was the only one who spoke up. I shushed her, thinking this was Noelle’s story. It wasn’t until I gave Tessa a fair shot that I got to know Noelle better. I’ve always been an avid journaler, so the best way I found to connect with Noelle was through her journal entries. I wrote five or six, but only three made their way into the final version of the book. Noelle really opened up to me in her journal entries, and I felt like I knew her full personality after writing them.
What an awesome method--I've interviewed my characters before, but I haven't journaled for them... I'll definitely do so in the future though :)

We’ve covered research and inhabiting characters—but I want to delve a little deeper into your methods! {insert evil laugh} Tell me: are you a plotter or a pantser?? What’s your writing process? 
Well, I can only tell you my writing process as it stands for today, because it’s this constantly changing and evolving part of who I am. I used to be a complete panster, discovering the book I was writing in small pieces as I sat down to work each day. During a lengthy revision process on The Tension of Opposites in which I scrapped all but five chapters of the manuscript (yes, you read that right – I deleted all but five chapters about six months into revisions), I started plotting. Nothing set in stone, but just an overall idea of the major scenes that needed to take place. I formed a much clearer picture of the characters and plot in my head before I began writing, took notes on note cards (one card per chapter, where I jot down any details, like dialogue, that I might use later), before I began writing. I have continued to use this process with my new WIP, and it seems to work well for me. I’m still a panster, though, in the respect that if some new idea strikes me halfway through a draft, I have no problem cutting chapters or plot threads that no longer fit.
Yeah, I'm revising a novel I didn't plot out first and I will NEVER not plot again, ha! But I definitely think it's important, no matter how strict I plot, to keep an open mind for working with new ideas!

What’s been the most rewarding part of the publication process? And, you know I have to ask it: what’s been the hardest? Do you have any tips for those of us (*clears throat*) working toward that dream of publication? 
I’m not sure I can pinpoint the most rewarding or challenging stages. There are the obvious highlights – holding the final book in my hands, seeing my name on the cover, and having friends and family share in the experience. Oh, and the YALSA nomination for Best Fiction for Young Adults was totally cool. But even the hard stages – the revisions and editing – have been rewarding as well. I think I have grown so much as a writer through the entire process. Maybe that’s the answer to both questions, that though it has been a struggle, I can see the growth that has occurred through each step of the process. My main tip for any aspiring writer is to never give up. Keep writing. Read a ton of books that fall in your genre. And understand that while rejection hurts, it’s part of the process and means you’re in the game. And being in the game is exciting, so enjoy!
Congratulations on the YALSA nomination! That's awesome! And I totally got goosebumps at thinking about what it must feel like having your name on the cover of a real, live book! *pauses to dream for a moment* Thanks for the encouraging words!

What’s next in line for Author Kristina McBride? Anything you can share with your fans? 
I am working on book two of my two-book deal with Egmont USA. That’s about all I can say for now . . . except that I’m falling in love with this new plot and all the characters
Oh man, such a TEASE :) Well, whatever you're working on, I can't wait to read it!

Alright, well you’ve read my blog, so it should come as no surprise that sometimes I can be kinda silly. And I figure that since you’re book is pretty intense, maybe you need some silly time too! QUICK! Answer these final questions with the first word that pops into your mind!!

Celebrity crush   In this very moment, I’d have to say Dave Matthews (was just listening to DMB – his voice is dreamy!)
Dream vacay spot:    Caribbean
Favorite scent:   Chocolate
As a child, what’d you want to be when you grew up?   Author, Teacher, Hair Stylist, or Librarian
What do you see in this inkblot?? 
It’s a motorcycle with one pig (think Olivia) riding on each side, back hoof kicked out for balance. I can’t figure out if this is a friendly circus type of situation where they’re practicing a stunt, or if they’re battling it out over the motorcycle. I get more of a fun vibe from these pigs, though, and believe this might be a competition where they show off their unique talent of duo motorcycle riding for a prize of some sort. Maybe a trip to the Caribbean with loads of chocolate and a private DMB concert included. I think the pigs are wearing tutus, so they are very fancy little things with a flare for style. And I believe their names are Millie and Mae

Okay, so remind me never to drink soda again, while reading your interview answers because I definitely almost spit my Diet Dr. Pepper out at your inkblot response. hahaha

Thank you SO much for visiting the blog, Kristina! Can't wait to see what comes out for ya next :)

Okay guys! Want to win a signed copy of THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES? Leave a comment with your email address and tell me and Kristina what YOU see in the inkblot!


  1. I see an evil elephant. :)
    Great interview. She's cute AND writes great books. Sounds like another cute little blond I know. (cough cough, you).

    Looking forward to reading about Tessa.

  2. oooh good interview! Those were some awesome questions

  3. +JMJ+

    LOL! I love the silly questions and answers, Sara!

    I had to really squint at that inkblot to see the two daring ballerina piggies. They make a more fun, lighthearted picture than what I saw, which was an angry-looking wild boar mask--tusks and all. (Hey, you're not psychoanalysing all of us now, are you? LOL!)

    Now I'm off to listen to some Dave Matthews. I'm the type to have crushes on celebrities because of the way they talk rather than the way they look (e.g., I don't like Brad Pitt's way of talking, so I have never got what the fuss over him was about), so the thought that Kristina might be the same way makes me believe Mr. Matthews is worth a second, more serious listen! =)

  4. Greta interview! I like how she talked about her writing process. It's always fascinating hearing how other writers approach writing. Kristina's novel sounds terrific!

  5. This was an excellent interview, Sara. I really enjoyed the questions and answers. I also like the idea of doing the character's journals. Interesting.

    As for the ink blot...after her answer that is ALL I can see! I see her answer perfectly. Except I think their names are Polly and Petunia.

    Happy Tuesday,

  6. Yay! for your first author interview, it was great. The inkblot looks like two angels carrying a woman to me, but I can see the pigs, too.

  7. Thanks for this interview ladies - lots of great info!

    Love the inkblot response and now can't see anything except Olivis :)

  8. 2 evil flying pigs kissing a baby troll on a pogo stick..... creepy.


  9. This interview was SO much fun! Thanks to everyone for responding - so interesting to learn what others see in the inkblot. There's a psychologist out there who would have a blast with us.

  10. Okay, it's really not cool for you to post an author interview the same day as me and then do SUCH a better job with it! Are you TRYING to make me look bad???? :)

    No, but seriously, AWESOME interview. I learned SO much and am definitely going to have to check out her books. You guys both rock! :)

  11. Great interview! I can't wait to read this book, even though I know it's probably going to be an emotional one.

  12. I would love to win this book! vintagebomb [a] gmail.com

    Cool interview... I kind of see the whole pig thing in the ink blot... I can definitely see Olivia doing something like that. However, to me, it looks like a face of a fox!

  13. I can totally see what Kristina saw with the motorcycle and pigs but I also see a bat.

    ozelloking@yahoo (dot) com

  14. What a fantastic interview ... by both of you!!! Wow ... she sounds incredible! Her inkblot response was hilarious!

  15. Great interview! I'm so looking forward to reading her book!

    I see two sumo wrestlers on a big bell...wearing tutu's.

    linaramz at yahoo dot com

  16. These are wonderful questions and answers! I had so much fun reading it!

    In the inkblot...so strange, I see a bug with pincers on it's mouth and there are two birds on either side of it, looking away so there beaks are sticking out!

    I'm so weird!

    Thanks for this!

    -Julia G.


  17. I think I really see a werewolf in to different spots. But it's hard to tell!



  18. Great interview to both of you! The book sounds great. I love the journal idea. I'm totally going to try that!

    Let's see. I see two dancing gnomes who are holding a cat in the middle, maybe the cat doesn't want to dance with them, maybe they're playing monkey in the middle with him. And he's hissing. He could be enjoying himself too. Love the inkblot idea ;o)

  19. Great interview, ladies! I can't wait to read Kristina's next book.

    I already own a copy, so you don't need to enter me in the contest. To me, the inkblot looks like the sacrum (lower back bone).

  20. it looks like some weird statue, with fat girls holding onto its horns, if that makes sense. dancing around it and maybe even seducing it. omgosh disturbing.

    feeyonachan at gmail dot com

  21. Aw, fun interview! I don't journal for my characters but I think it's a great idea!

    In the inkblot, I saw flying pigs, even before I read Kristina's answer. Weird, huh? I can totally see the motorcycle in there, too. Very cool.

  22. I can SO SEE THAT in the inkblot! Fantastic interview :D

  23. Umm... I see a weird bug surrounded by two people in the inkblot.

    I would love a chance to win this book! It looks fantastic!

    basicallyamazingbooks [at] gmail [dot] com

  24. Okay, so I was squinting... I see a headless angel... like, gushing out blood or water. Do I have problems or something?

    Great interview! I admit I kind of skimmed the first few questions (since I haven't read it yet, and I'm afraid of spoilers), but I can't wait for McBrides's next novel!

    cc932005 at hotmail dot com

  25. I see a bat with two extra sets of wings!

  26. I see an evil elephant. Thanks for the giveaway!

  27. I see three circus performers, one standing on his head, the other two standing on the first performer's hands and holding out their arms.


  28. I see two goblins competing for some bug. xlacrimax at gmail dot com


Yay! I love when you have things to add :)