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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Beyond the Page with Kristina McBride

Kristina McBride, author of The Tension of Opposites, is stopping by today to talk about publishing her debut novel. One lucky reader will win a signed copy of her book and some cool swag. Another will win a query critique.

Release Date: May 25, 2010
Publisher: Egmont USA
Pages: 288

Description: Two years ago Noelle disappeared. Two long years of no leads, no word, no body. Since the abduction, Tessa, her best friend, has lived in a state of suspended animation. She has some friends, but keeps them distant. Some interests, but she won’t allow herself to become passionate about them. And guys? She can’t get close—she knows what it is like to really lose someone she cared for.

And then, one day, the telephone rings. Noelle is alive. And maybe, just maybe, Tess can start to live again, too.

A haunting psychological thriller taken straight from the headlines, The Tension of Opposites is a striking debut that explores the emotional aftermath a kidnapping can have on the victim, and on the people she left behind.

*Description provided by Kristina McBride

About the author: 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 http://www.kristinamcbride.com/.

By the numbers

Time it took to write The Tension of Opposites: Four to five months to write the first draft. (But revisions with my agent took an additional eleven months. And that doesn’t count edits with my publisher.)

Number of revisions: I lost count at, like, the fifth draft. Somewhere around there I deleted the book (except for five chapters) and started over. This, by the way, is just with my agent – before the book was pitched to editors. After Egmont USA picked up The Tension of Opposites, it went through at least four or five more rounds of revision and copy editing. I’m exhausted just thinking about all that!

Final word count: 70,000 ish (I’m “ishy” because the most final version I have on the computer is riddled with comments from several copy editors.)


1. The Tension of Opposites is your first published novel, but is it the first you've written? If not, how many did you write prior to it?
The Tension of Opposites is my third attempt at a novel. I queried relentlessly on the first two manuscripts, and learned so very much by making mistakes along the way. Like, there’s no need to query the 127th agent if all the previous responses have been rejection. Write your next book and query that instead.

2. How did the idea for The Tension of Opposites come to you? (i.e. a single image, a key scene, a song, etc) What was it?
It’s always a character – with every book. They start talking. I listen. Then I write. Tessa was the one who first spoke in the case of The Tension of Opposites. I ignored her at first, trying to coax Noelle out of her shell, because I thought this story should be written from the kidnapped-and-returned girl’s perspective. But Noelle was stubborn. She remained silent. Tessa, thankfully, was persistent. This book was her story long before I ever realized it. (I am so not in control of these people.)

3. What was more difficult, writing the book or the query? Why?
The query. Hands down. It’s the most important aspect of getting published if you can’t attend conferences and meet editors and agents face to face. You could have a totally amazing book on your hands, but if the query doesn’t stand out, no agent will ever read the first pages. You have to get the query right – like, perfect – in one simple little page. Whittling an entire book down to that concise of an introduction is a painstaking process. I spent at least a month on each of my queries, taking time away from them and then going back, changing little words here and there, wondering if it was hooky enough. I agonized over each aspect of these queries until I was about to go insane. Then I sent them out. (Separately – this is for each of the three manuscripts I wrote over the course of two and a half years.) Best source that I found when learning the rules of query writing? AgentQuery.com
And the cool thing about this site is that you can do a “Quick Search” to find agents who represent books in your genre!

4. How long did it take you to find an agent after you finished writing the book? How many rejections did you receive?
First of all, I must restate that I spent a total of two and a half years querying three different manuscripts before landing my agent. If I had to estimate the number of rejections I received (this pains me), it would be more than two hundred. For manuscript three (which was then called Buried – but later turned into The Tension of Opposites), I sent twenty queries out a few months after completing the manuscript. I had roughly ten requests for partials/fulls within a week or two. My agent, the totally incredible Alyssa Eisner Henkin, requested a call a week or so after she received the full – so we’re two or three weeks out now . . .

5. How was representation finally offered to you?
Alyssa offered me representation during our first call, which was scheduled much like a formal business meeting. I prepared for the call by using suggestions I found at AgentQuery.com, When Agents Offer Representation and When Agents Call.
6. What has been the most surreal part of the whole publishing process?
 Last summer, after eleven months of revision with my agent, I received three offers on the manuscript. From real, live editors that work at actual publishing houses. And then, there was an auction. Squee! I made it!

7. What are you working on now?
Book 2 of my 2-book-deal with Egmont USA. It is completely unrelated to The Tension of Opposites. That’s about all I can say for now.

U.S. Only


  1. Kristina is such a nice person (as well as talented author!) and has the best book trailer I have ever seen!

  2. Great interview...I loved that she said that the character came first. Character-driven stories are always the best and the most well-written. It makes me even more excited to read this!

  3. Interview was great. I have been wanting to read since the first review I read.

    Thanks for hosting.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

  4. One of the book that i've been eyeing for quite some times. count me in for this book :)

    uniquas at ymail dot com

  5. This book sounds like a great read. Thanks for this giveaway!

  6. Sounds like a great book! Thank you for the great giveaway! Yay for being an English teacher!

  7. Great contest! And the book looks intriguing.

  8. Thanks for the awesome contest and interview babe! I can't wait to read this! :)