Friendship 101, An interview with Kristina McBride, YA author of THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES
June 14th, 2010 by Liza Wiemer

Tension. Opposites. Friendship.


Kristina McBride

Kristina McBride, author of The Tension of Opposites, understands that in every relationship there are complicated layers.  Loyalty and love. Fear and insecurity.  Now imagine that your best friend vanishes most likely kidnapped with no leads and the strong possibility that she may be dead.

Kristina has done a masterful job of weaving the story of Elle – a teen who returns home to her family and best friend Tessa two years after her abduction by a pedophile – with the complications of friendship and relationships.  Imagine separated hands – one represents friendship, and the other the kidnapping and safe return of your BFF.  Now weave the fingers together.  This is precisely how Kristina integrates these two different ideas to create an amazing YA novel.

This interview focuses on friendship, what we can learn about ourselves from the people we hang with and a special rule that Kristina uses, which can help us decide if the people in our lives are good for us.  To enter a drawing for a signed copy of The Tension of Opposites please see instructions below.

Q:  What qualities do you believe are necessary for a true and meaningful friendship?

A:  Any type of relationship is difficult unless you can be a friend to yourself first. That might sound cheesy or cliché, but it’s true. You must listen to your inner thoughts and not go against that little voice inside your head. It also is essential that you feel appreciation for who you are as a person. I was so shy and unsure of myself when I was in high school, and even into college. One thing that helped me appreciate who I am was looking at myself through the eyes of my best friends. I always thought my closest friends were pretty cool, so if they liked me maybe I was okay. If you can’t learn to appreciate yourself you’ll begin comparing yourself to others, resenting others, and become an all around sticky mess. It took me a VERY long time to get to the point where I loved myself as much as I love my friends.  That’s the goal to strive for. When you get there, you’ll feel a freedom unlike anything you’ve ever known. You’ll stop feeling afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. You’ll automatically hang around people who accept you for who you are because you’re not so busy trying to be whatever it is you think they want you to be. And you’ll have a much better life because of it!

Beyond this, I think friends must share common ground, a sense of safety (including honesty and respect), and tons of laughter.

Q:  Do your main characters, Tessa and Elle, possess these characteristics, or is one friend more loyal than another?  How does this friendship work?

A:  I believe that Elle is so broken after spending two years with her kidnapper that she can’t be much of anything to anyone when the book begins. Tessa is fiercely loyal and protective – to a fault actually. She lets her relationship with Elle become too much of a driving factor in her own life. This friendship is difficult because there is no balance. Tessa has to give and be understanding, even as she’s hurt by this new version of her friend.

The reason this friendship works is that Tessa is so loyal and patient. Tessa feels that if she gives Elle enough time, she’ll come around.  Not too many people could have that kind of patience or devotion to another person, and that’s definitely admirable.  If it had not been for the kidnapping, Elle’s behavior as a so-called friend would be inexcusable and Tessa should give up her quest to have Elle in her life.  It’s Tessa’s loyalty, however, that helps Elle find her footing again.  I appreciate the journey these two friends take together.

The lack of balance we see between Tessa and Elle is evident in many types of relationships. There is a natural sway of give and take in some relationships that last for a long period of time.  You must, however, be sure that the sway is there – that one person isn’t constantly giving while the other is constantly taking.

Q:  Many YA go from relationship to relationship or hook up to hook up.  Often these experiences result in pain.  Other than the possibility of sexual gratification, what is it that a YA is looking for and how can s/he find it?

A:  I believe that this goes back to my statement that you first must be a true friend to yourself. You have to protect yourself and respect yourself in the same manner you do your best friend.

We’re all searching for the people we can be our true selves with and not worry about judgment, right? That was my struggle as I made my way from young adulthood to adulthood. I learned that I have some incredible friends who will stick by my side through anything, others who kind of flit in and out of my life, and yet others who I cannot trust at all.  Look at the people who come into your life as if you’re “dating.” Ask yourself the following: “Do I want this person in my life? Does this person make me feel positive and bring out the best in me?” If the answer to either question is no, then you give yourself permission to “break up” with the people who are not healthy energies in your life. If you can understand that most people will not stay in your life forever, if you take from each person what you can to make yourself a better person, there won’t be so much pain as you move through the important relationships in your life.

I think if I had to do it all over again, I’d just chill out a bit and realize that it’s all a process. It would have been so much easier early in life if someone had spelled it out for me by explaining the following:  This is the way life goes – you meet people – some stay in your life and others go. It’s okay no matter what happens with each person because you’ll always have you. You’ll figure out who’s important to your journey and who isn’t as you move forward.

Q:  Guys and girls often find that girlfriends/boyfriends interfere with their other friendships or with schoolwork/sports.  This tension leads to breakups.  Why is that, and how can YA deal with these situations?

A:  DRAMA! I was a very intense high-schooler and I played into the whole relationship game too much. I have learned something VERY important about relationships. It’s the 90/10 Rule, and I live by it. Here’s how it works: If you’re not having fun and feeling good about yourself 90% of the time you’re with the wrong person (whether it’s a friendship or a romantic relationship), stop hanging out with them. You can do this gradually by pulling away, or make it a clean break. There are a zillion people for you to spend your time with, and you shouldn’t waste a minute of your life with anyone who doesn’t make you feel good about yourself. Ever.

It was a huge “Ah-Ha!” moment for me when I realized that though a breakup (with a friend or boyfriend) might stink, it was happening for a reason. I learned to allow myself a few days to feel depressed if I needed it because I had to honor my feelings.  Then I found something to help me move on – like an art class – something special just for me.

Q:  When you think of Max and Tessa, what is it about their relationship that clicks?

A:  I believe that the relationship between Tessa and Max works because there is a mutual respect and compassion between them. (Okay, Max might have to take more weight in this because of all the issues Tessa is going through with Elle.) It’s important to be able to put yourself in another person’s situation, and to treat them kindly based on their individual situation. But you have to create boundaries and not allow anyone to cross them. Tessa certainly tests Max’s limits, and she’s not sure if or how long he’ll stick around. (You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens between them!)

Q:  Looking at your own high school years and the friendships that worked and didn’t work, please share a story or two about the lessons you learned from those relationships.

A:  I’ve already talked about my 90/10 Rule, which I have had to put into effect for several relationships in my adult life. I’m not talking about bad people, just people that didn’t make me feel positive about myself and what I was thinking/saying when I was around them. I only wish I’d lived by this rule when I was in high school.

The most important thing I have learned is that the only person who will be with me every second of my life is me. I have to be true to myself first and foremost, and the rest will fall into place. I spent a lot of time being afraid of what others think about me, and it’s the coolest thing to be able to say, “This is me, and I’m not ashamed of any part of me. If someone likes me – cool. If not – that’s okay too.” This is much easier said than done!! especially as I move into the public eye with the publication of my book!  I just take a deep breath and remind myself that it’s all about my perspective. I do my best to stay positive.

Q:  With the easy and fast-paced access to information today via such communication modes as e-mail, texting, Facebook, and Twitter what do YA need to know in order to build positive friendships/relationships?

A:  Be careful.  Don’t throw something out there that could be hurtful to someone, because it’s not worth it and you’ll never be able to take it back. Be the person you want others to remember later in life. Think about your actions and their consequences. Above all, strive to be kind in every situation. That’s what it’s really all about.

There are many lessons readers can take away from the relationships in The Tension of Opposites.  What have been the most powerful for you and why? I’ll take this full circle and end where I began. It’s essential to build a positive relationship with yourself. You must learn to be comfortable with you – all of you – even the stuff that’s not so great. If you can do this, you’ll learn to open up, as Tessa struggles to do throughout the story, and the rewards will be plentiful!

To enter the drawing for a signed copy of The Tension of Opposites please do one of the following under comments:

  1. Share your thoughts about this blog piece.
  2. Share your ideas on what makes a person a true and loyal friend.
  3. Share a short story of friendship.
  4. Retweet this blog piece on Twitter and/or put a link on Facebook.  (Please let me know that you’ve done this by providing the Facebook link or add @LizaWiemer on Twitter.)

Entries for this drawing will close on July 1, 2010 at 8:00 PM CST and are open to individuals in the United States and Canada.

To learn more about Kristina McBride please see her website:  www.KristinaMcBride.com.  For more information from the publisher go to: http://tinyurl.com/24ceaus To order or read reviews of The Tension of Opposites check out Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/2bgbfb2 The book also is available at any bookstore near you.

23 Responses  
Joe writes:
June 14th, 2010 at 8:46 pm

This is a great interview; I’ll definitely pick up a copy if I don’t win (so don’t enter 😉 )

1). I really like the 90/10 rule. I wish I had known about it earlier – like in high school – but it’ll help me in college. Lots to think about. Thanks.

Sara Broers writes:
June 14th, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Great interview~ Looks like an awesome book!

Casey (The Bookish Type) writes:
June 15th, 2010 at 11:30 am

This sounds like a fascinating and unique novel! I would love to read it. I’ve tweeted about this contest here:


Thanks =)

Jackie Noel writes:
June 15th, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Looks like an interesting plot. And great friendship advice!

I think what makes a friend a friend is when they do nice things for you. They are always lifting you up and don’t have jealousy, but are happy for you. They comfort you when you are sad. They are forgiving and you just have one heck of a time with them!

I am lucky because I have an identical twin and we are as close as can be. We have had each other to hang out with our whole lives. We always had a friend at school or wherever we went. We are always there for each other. 🙂

Marina writes:
June 16th, 2010 at 9:54 am

True friendships are hard to find. There are different kind of friendships, just like relationships. I have recently learned that each friend has his or her weaknesses and strengths. You feed on both, but you need to learn how to love yourself first like Kristina McBride said. That’s hard to do but when you do, you end up feeding your friend’s strength too.

PS- All your blogs are great.

Natalie writes:
June 16th, 2010 at 5:27 pm

I’ve heard so many great things about this book. Thanks for the giveaway!

Tweeted it here


Faith Draper aka byfaithonly writes:
June 17th, 2010 at 3:56 pm

Excellent interview and even though I don’t have any YA in the house that would read the book I would love to read it myself – sounds like a remarkable story. Friendships are always so difficult as a grandmother now I try to stress to the young ones ‘if you are someone’s friend you are their friend because of who they are no matter what that may be’.

Aik writes:
June 18th, 2010 at 3:29 am

In my opinion, what makes a person a true and loyal friend is that he/she is willing to share your joy and happiness, assist you when you have troubles and encourage you when you are feeling down.

Aik writes:
June 18th, 2010 at 3:30 am
Cassandra writes:
June 18th, 2010 at 7:43 am

I think a good friend is one who is loyal, but also honest [you know the kinds of people who just follow along without actually letting out their “truths”]. One who you can depend on time and time again, who, no matter how annoying you are, they eventually come around. Not only that, but by being their friend, you are also able to make efforts to be a good friend, because you just love them so much. 😛

Lisa Gail Green writes:
June 21st, 2010 at 9:31 pm

WOW! That was an in depth interview! Kristina sounds so self-actualized. I think most adults don’t understand that much about relationships! And the book sounds fascinating. I would love to read it. To me, real friendship is the ability to be yourself around the other person, no matter how good/bad/ugly you are at the moment.

Shawnee Bowlin writes:
June 21st, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Adults can learn from books like this as well. Plus, I have a young adult who can always use some help, and Mom wants to stay on top of how young people think. As someone who enjoys a variety of reading types, I must say this book sounds wonderful.
Friendships can use help no matter what age we are!

Cindy Springsteen writes:
June 22nd, 2010 at 8:57 am

This looks like a great book and a great look at the importance of friendships.

Erika Lynn writes:
June 23rd, 2010 at 6:39 pm

This is wonderful, and I agree laughter is a major part of friendship.

Joe writes:
June 23rd, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Love the book trailer! I agree that the 90/10 rule is extremely useful. I will use it this coming year when drama strikes the middle school where I teach.

Ariella writes:
June 24th, 2010 at 4:15 pm

That was a really cool video preview. I definitely want to read it. Very cool ideas behind it!

Sara (The Hiding Spot) writes:
June 24th, 2010 at 11:12 pm

THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES is one of my all-time favorite reads! I was lucky enough to interview Kristina over at my blog as well. 🙂 I never tire of reading Kristina’s interviews because I adored the characters and every little insight reminds me just how much I loved them! I especially enjoyed Max and Tessa’s relationship. They were adorable together and Max brought out so many wonderful traits in Tessa that had been long buried. I think Kristina did a remarkable job at writing such a dark topic in a realistic way, while still incorporating “fun” and light aspects. http://thehidingspot.blogspot.com

Betsy writes:
June 25th, 2010 at 5:13 am

Powerful interview and such crucial words about friendship for everyone in the world. I have lived by the 90/10 and didn’t even know it! Can’t wait to read more of Kristina’s books!

L. Sneyd writes:
June 30th, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Sometimes it’s hard to be a true friend to yourself, because ultimately you’re in charge of yourself. If you don’t love yourself like a friend loves you, how will you do what best for you?

Courtney Rae writes:
July 1st, 2010 at 10:59 am

What makes a person a true and loyal friend?
If they can tell you how they feel about something you do. The truth is always out there. Also, you can tell them anything and you know that once they know, your secrets are safe in their vault.

I tweeted: http://twitter.com/courtneyyrae/status/17502110264

Love this post, by the way! And I love the 90/10 rule.

Melissa writes:
July 1st, 2010 at 5:26 pm

I really like Kristina’s 90/10 rule, and I agree with her completely that if you feel bad about yourself more than 10% of the time around them, maybe they aren’t for you. I know that I’ve said this before on your blog Liza, but I’ve had “friends” who were hurtful to me about 90% of the time and I stuck with them in 7th and 8th grade anyway. However, I’m really glad that I was able to move away from them when I entered high school. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I completely learned my lesson…the same one had to be figured out as an adult with relationships, but it was a good start.

amy dendy writes:
July 1st, 2010 at 5:52 pm


Lana Scholtz writes:
July 1st, 2010 at 6:24 pm

hi thanks for the contest!

-Lana — lanakapana101@hotmail.com

I tweeted: https://twitter.com/lanakapana101/status/17527348265

This blog gives lots of great advice and perspective on friendship. what makes a friend loyal is if they make sacrifices for you, or put as much effort into the friendship as you do. the small things like when someone cancels their plans for you or goes out of their way to do something just for you makes a friendship special.

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