By David Grant, author of The Other Side of Friendship
When’s the last time that you made a new friend or even cared about making one? Who are your friends? I mean, who are your true friends? The ones you can count on to be with you through the good and bad times. Could you call them at 2 AM to talk about a problem or would your call go straight to their voicemail?
Friendship isn’t easy. In fact, it can be extremely difficult. Making new friends and keeping friends takes time and effort. It takes work – a lot of consistent work. It takes more work than many people are willing to put into it. The interesting thing is that it doesn’t really matter how much effort one individual puts into creating and maintaining a friendship, if it is not reciprocated. Friendship is clearly a two-sided endeavour and if that fact isn’t clearly understood and followed it can really hit a person hard. It’s why I wrote this book and would like to share more about why and how below:
The Other Side of Friendship
My debut novel, The Other Side of Friendship captures the ups and downs of the main character Army Colonel Tyrone Washington, as he tries to make a new friend while attending the prestigious Eisenhower School at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. Despite being happily married with one child, highly successful in his professional career, and living the life of his dreams, Tyrone feels that something is missing –true friendship with someone outside of a family member. The emotional impact of trying to make a new friend disrupts Tyrone’s professional and personal life.
A Conversation With the Author, David Grant:
Why write a fiction novel about friendship?
Because friendship is such an interesting and universal topic. Just about everybody has a memorable friendship story – a happy one, a sad one. When we think about “friendship” a mixture of emotions begin to flow through our minds. While some novels include friendship or relationships in general as a sub-plot or sub-theme, “The Other Side of Friendship” focuses primarily on Tyrone Washington’s quest to make a new friend and how he emotionally deals with the situation.
What was the inspiration for this story?
While the story is overall fiction, life events and reflections from the past played a significant role in shaping my thoughts. Some of the scenarios in the story were inspired by events that I was personally involved in and other scenarios were based on conversations that I had with friends and family over the years. Like I mentioned previously, everyone has an interesting friendship story; I was eager to capture in this novel the themes from stories that people shared with me. I guess the best way to say it is that “life” was the inspiration for the story.
In addition to friendship, are there any other themes in the novel?
Yes, quite a few themes exist in the story. Friendship is clearly the central theme throughout the novel, from beginning to end. However, I sprinkled in additional themes that focus on family relationships, racism, politics, the intricacies of friendship between married men and women, mental health, and also harassment. I really wanted the reader to walk away with an insightful and powerful message. Some parts of the story are written almost like a history lesson, a reflection of my years of academic writing.
Is it harder for people from some groups to make friends with people from other groups? What about foreigners and immigrants? Do they lose faith in the effort it takes to find the friends they need to live a better quality of life?
Having quality friendships is very important to feeling connected and overall personal wellness. Studies have shown that friendship has a positive impact on our lives. In the area of making new friends, immigrants may have additional challenges. Being new to an area and not fluently speaking the local language are potential barriers to making friends. However, these two challenges could actually motivate an immigrant to meet new people and make friends. When an immigrant is new to an area, there is a natural tendency and need to reach out to others in order to receive support and build some type of friendship or relationship, similar to what a new employee or new student may do when going to a job or school for the first time. This “need” for support and to meet new people is a catalyst for friendship. If new immigrants meet other individuals who are open to friendship then a connection can be made. It’s just important for immigrants to reach out to people and take steps towards building friendships.
And as for is it harder for people from different groups to make friends with each other, personally, some of my most fulfilling friendships are with people who are different from me in the areas of race, gender, and ethnicity. For me, having some type of common bond with an individual and routine close proximity have been important triggers for friendship, which easily overcame any obvious differences.
What was one of the more surprising things that you learned during the writing process?
Well, this novel is the first one that I’ve written. I learned a lot about the writing process and, just as importantly, I learned about the needed steps to actually produce, publish, and market a professional quality book. It takes time and patience in order to do it right. For instance, identifying and selecting the book cover designer, editor, and interior designer, is a very detailed and personal process which takes research, interviews, and time. It was a real learning process for me, but fortunately I pulled together a great team who helped turn “The Other Side of Friendship” into a wonderful final product. I’m really proud of the story.
What have you enjoyed the most about writing “The Other Side of Friendship”?
Definitely, the feedback. I love receiving feedback from someone who read the story. Hearing the excitement in their voice about how they connected with the themes and situations in the novel really makes me feel good. I also welcome constructive feedback, too. If someone didn’t enjoy the entire story, that’s ok. I still appreciate their feedback, so I can consider it and continue to grow as a writer and person.
What will be the biggest nugget of friendship wisdom for the reader?
Know when to walk away from a situation and just leave it alone. Walking away from a friend or relative, especially after you’ve invested time and energy, is difficult but it often needs to be done. We can’t force people to like us or to be around us. After all, would you really want to spend time with an individual that you “forced” to be with you. Friendships and close relationships need to happen naturally, with both individuals making an effort. It is easy for me to say “walk away,” but actually it is much harder to do.
Have you started writing your next novel?
Yes, I sure have. I’m writing a story that focuses on the challenges and conflicts that families with special needs children may face. I’m very excited about writing this novel and eventually sharing it with readers.
Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?
Absolutely! In the area of making new friends, don’t hesitate to take the initiative and essentially put yourself out there. The only way somebody will know that you want to be friends is if you invite them to spend time with you. On the same note, be aware and respectful of their response. Everybody isn’t interested in making new friends; some people just don’t have time for new friends. Regardless, respect the individual’s response and move on. At the end of the novel, I placed twenty-two questions about friendship and relationships to help readers reflect on the story and on their lives.
As for personal goals and dreams, go for them! Writing a novel was a personal goal for me. It took me out of my comfort zone. I’m still actually a bit reluctant to tell people about my novel, but I’m getting over it. Whatever your goal or dream may be, you can achieve it. There are so many helpful resources available online and in our communities. You’d be surprised at how eager some individuals will be to help you reach the goal.
“The Other Side of Friendship”
David Grant’s Author Page
Read David Grant’s previous blog post below: