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Happy Monday Everyone! I’m excited to have Annie Sullivan here to share about her new YA fantasy TIGER QUEEN. It’s set somewhere we don’t really see in fantasies that much—the desert—and sounds like a real page turner. I also interviewed Annie when she was a debut author last year and A TOUCH OF GOLD released. I’m excited to learn what it’s like to transition that first year of being an author.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

From Annie Sullivan, author of A Touch of Gold, comes Tiger Queen, a sweeping YA fantasy adventure that tells the story of a fierce desert princess battling to save her kingdom. Fans of Rebel of the Sands and Meagan Spooner will devour this retelling of Frank Stockton’s famous short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?”

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.

Hi Annie! Thanks so much for visiting again!

1. For people who don’t know you, tell us a bit about yourself and how you became a writer.

I’m the author of fantasy and fairytale retelling young adult novels. I love writing about strong female protagonists and characters who deserve their own story. I’ve been writing little stories since I was a kid, but I didn’t seriously start considering becoming a writer until college. I loved the creative writing classes I took, and from there, the rest is history.

2. TIGER QUEEN is a retelling of “The Lady, or the Tiger?” What made you decide to retell this story?

I read this short story in middle school, and the infamous cliffhanger ending always made me wonder what the true ending to the story might be. From there, I knew I had to retell this story and give it the ending that it always should have had. But in my version, I focus on a warrior princess who fights suitors in an arena to win her right to rule, but when her last opponent is announced as the one man she’s never been able to beat in fight, she has to scramble to keep her throne. But if she’s not careful, she’ll end up facing a tiger in the arena instead of her next opponent.

3. Your story is set in the desert. I’ve read that you did a really good job grounding your story in your setting. What research did you do in creating your world? Was there anything about it that surprised you as you created it?

Surprisingly, I wrote most of Tiger Queen while I was in Antarctica, which is actually one of the largest deserts because of how dry it is. So I turned the stretches of endless white and the spiraling snow into endless sand dunes and stinging sand blowing. But I also did a lot of research into desert creatures and desert characteristics so the desert felt real despite being a fantastical setting. Finally, I did work with a sensitivity reader just to be sure I wasn’t portraying any harmful stereotypes of desert cultures.

4. That's so funny that you wrote this in Antarctica. Kateri sounds like a strong protagonist determined to do what she has to for herself and her people. What was her character development like for you?

Kateri is one of the hardest characters I’ve ever written because she is so strong and stubborn. Her character arc really became one of showing that she could still keep her strength while opening up to people and asking for help. So I really enjoyed going on that journey with her, and I can’t wait for others to see how she grows through the story.

5. When did you write this story in relation to the release of A TOUCH OF GOLD? Was it challenging writing this on more of a deadline and while you at least had marketing to do for your first book?

I already had a draft of Tiger Queen written before A Touch of Gold ever came out. But I was revising while waiting for A Touch of Gold to release, and it’s hard to really put all your marketing on hold as you enter a whole new world and try to make it as perfect as you can. Plus, I was writing the sequel to A Touch of Gold in there too. So you really have to learn how to manage deadlines while still giving yourself time to have a life.

6. That would be challenging. Was the process of working with your editor the same or different for your second book than your debut book? Why?

I had a new editor for Tiger Queen, but I loved working with her. I think every editor brings something different to the table, and I took what I learned from my first editor and what my new editor taught me and combined them to create the best story I possibly could. So in the end, I think the book turned out even stronger because of that.

7. Looking back on your debut year, what are things that you think worked and didn’t work in terms of building your social media platform and marketing your book? What advice do you have to debut authors?

My best advice is to be where your readers are, so I try to reach people where they’re primed to be
thinking about books. And a lot of my readers are on Facebook and Instagram, so that’s where I focus my time, content, and ads on hashtags like #bookstagram and book groups on Facebook. I’ve tried sitting in local bookstores hoping I’ll sell books, but that doesn’t always work if the crowd just isn’t coming in that day.

My advice for debut authors is to build up your following by giving away books that are similar to yours. Build up a fan base of people who like similar things to your style and genre. Have entrants follow you and tag a friend or two to be entered—and hopefully those friends will come follow you too. Also, form a street team. Get them to start posting for you and helping spread the word because you can’t do it all yourself no matter how hard you try.

8. That's great advice. TIGER QUEEN released September 10, 2019. What have you been doing to promote it and what made you decide to this marketing plan?

I’ve been doing a lot of ads on Facebook and Instagram. I’ve always heard it takes someone seeing your book cover seven to eight times before they stop and take notice. So you really need them to see it over and over again, which you can do with targeted ads. My publisher also sent me on a tour this year, so it helps to get the word out that way as well. Otherwise, I’ve just been shouting from the rooftops about my book because you never know who might see it when you post about it.

9. What are you working on now?

Right now I’m finishing up the sequel to A Touch of Gold called A CURSE OF GOLD. It’s full of even more mythology and heart-pounding action! I can’t wait for readers to dive in when it releases in 2020. Plus, I’m working on a few new things, so stay tuned!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Annie. You can find Annie at:

Annie has generously offered a hardback of TIGER QUEEN for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through November 30th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog or follow me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is International to wherever Book Depository ships for free.

Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday, December 4th I have a guest post with debut author Kelly Coon and her agent Kari Sutherland and a giveaway of Kelly's YA fantasy GRAVEMAIDENS and a query critique giveaway by Kari

Monday, December 9th I have an interview with debut author Kim Long and a giveaway of her MG contemporary LEXI MAGILL AND THE TELEPORTATION TOURNAMENT

Saturday, December 14th I'm participating in the Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Wednesday, December 4th. Happy Thanksgiving!


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

The Lady or the Tiger was one of my favorite short stories as a kid! Great idea to take it from the cliffhanger ending. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'd really like to know what she was doing in Antarctica!

Joanne R. Fritz said...

I'm fascinated that Annie was able to write desert scenes while in Antarctica! But yes, I guess it is a kind of desert. And good writers can write anywhere.

How wise of her to take what she learned from her first editor and combine it with what her new editor taught her.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Took notes on the book and marketing advice. Sounds like a great story! Best of luck.

Computer Tutor said...

That's exactly the sort of story I like reading--strong female with no quit in her!

nashvillecats2 said...

Reading late in the day due to workmen doing repairs.
Excellent post Natalie.


Pat Hatt said...

Be where the readers are is great advice indeed

Powdered Toast Man said...

It must be hard to write with frozen fingers when you are in Antarctica.

Mary Preston said...

A great post thank you. I love this cover.


Kristen said...

This book sounds so fascinating. And I really like the idea of giving away other people's books while debuting your own. Great advice. Thanks

Danielle H. said...

I read this author's first book and enjoyed the writing style and voice very much, so this book is one of my most-anticipated ones of 2019. I shared on tumblr: https://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/189171750042/annie-sullivan-interview-and-tiger-queen-giveaway

Carl Scott said...

Tiger Queen looks like a really fun book, I'm looking forward to it. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
I follow on Twitter and I've tweeted a link: https://twitter.com/carlrscott/status/1196876303409934336, and pinned an image on Pinterest with a link as well: https://www.pinterest.es/pin/336573772152893538/.
Thanks again, have a great day everyone!

Donna K. Weaver said...

Nice interview! Congrats to Anne!

Megan said...

Thank you for the giveaway! :)
Tweeted this: https://twitter.com/WordsThatStay1/status/1197152327607685120
GFC: Megan S.
Email: megan(dot)clarsach(at)gmail(dot)com

Anonymous said...

Hi Annie! I'm not familiar with the story you're retelling, which actually makes me even more excited about it! Thanks for the giveaway.

Jennifer said...

I'm fascinated by the synopsis! I am entering the Tiger Queen giveaway. :)

Angela Brown said...

Now I'm very interested in checking out the source story for this retelling. Thank you for the great interview and the advice :-)

Rosi said...

I always enjoy your interviews. Thanks for this one. I will pass on the giveaway. To many books -- not enough time.

Angie Quantrell said...

Oh, this book is captivating! I can't wait to read it and find out what happens. Great interview! Congratulations, Annie! Thanks, Natalie, again, for sharing with us! I will post to Twitter.

mshatch said...

Great interview and gorgeous cover! Congratulations to Annie :)

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for this opportunity :) :) I'm following through email: Lily M. lilyone90@gmail.com
Twitter: @01BookPlace
And I also mentioned this giveaway on Twitter:)

Tonja Drecker said...

Fun interview! This one sounds amazing...especially with the setting.

Nancy P said...

Sounds fantastic.

positive DOT ideas DOT 4you AT gmail DOT com

DMS said...

This book sounds so interesting and I really enjoyed the interview. Funny to write about the desert in a place so different! :) Thanks for the chance to win a copy and wishing Annie the best of luck!

nrlymrtl said...

A sensitivity reader? That's a great idea when you are portraying a culture not your own in a book. that's great the author went the extra mile.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

The story sounds fascinating. Hope to read it soon. Also, the interview is great. I enjoy learning how other authors work. Best wishes to you.

Nick Wilford said...

I never thought of Antarctica as a desert before - I think it's really cool (pun not intended) that it could inspire a story like this. I also wonder what Annie was doing in Antarctica - is she a research scientist? I'm sure there's rich pickings for stories there too!

Pat Garcia said...

I can relate to your desire to get more into your writing and wish you all the best to really be able to jump in and let your writing flow.. I jump for joy to hear that you will have two days off during the week so that you can do that. That is a blessing.
Shalom aleichem,
Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

Crystal @ Lost in Storyland said...

Thanks for sharing this interview. I enjoyed hearing about the publishing industry from a writer's perspective. It was especially helpful to hear about what it's like to work on a book while marketing another book - and one top of working book 2 of that first book!