Terri Procopio: Tell us a little about yourself.
Annie Sullivan: I was born and raised in Indianapolis and went to St. Pius for grade school and Brebeuf Jesuit for high school. I received my undergraduate degree from Indiana University and my MFA from Butler University. I currently work at Wiley Publishing.
TP: When did you first become interested in writing?
AS: It started when I was a kid. I wrote funny little stories and made up adventure tales. I did a little writing in high school, but when I got to college I was really drawn to English. I was an English major with a concentration in creative writing at IU. After undergrad, I decided to enroll in Butler’s MFA program to pursue it further.
TP: Your debut novel comes out this August. Can you give a brief synopsis?
AS: My novel is called “A Touch of Gold” and it’s a young adult fairytale retelling that is set in a mythical land. It’s about King Midas’ first daughter. When she’s seven years old, her father turns her into a golden statue. Three days later he turns her back into a human, but she has lasting side effects – one of which she has golden skin and the other is she can sense the objects that her father has turned into gold. When these objects are stolen, she sets out to bring them back. It’s a tale of adventure and fantasy with all these great sweeping landscapes, but it’s deeper than that. It’s about a girl with golden skin and she’s an outcast. There are rumors about her and no one wants to touch her, so it’s also about finding confidence and beauty within yourself. She has a lot of anxiety about gold and being around gold. There are a lot of deeper meanings which I think are important to be aware of in today’s climate such as mental issues and body confidence issues.
TP: Why do you have an interest in young adult and fantasy writing?
AS: I enjoy young adult and fantasy because you can have trolls and fairies and dragons and princesses and still address issues such as mental health, bullying and rumors in a way where there’s also an adventure. I love that you can mask these issues within a world where you’re still having fun but also learning about yourself within these characters. I like to use my imagination and create creatures that don’t exist anywhere in the world. The young adult level is where I feel the most comfortable.
TP: How did you first develop the concept of this book?
AS: I actually started it after watching “Pirates of the Caribbean.” I was thinking about the cursed gold and how they had to carry it back to the treasure chest. I thought if they only could have absorbed the gold and who might be able to do that. Who deals with gold? That sparked the idea of using King Midas. I typically like to write about strong female characters, and I remembered one version of the myth where King Midas has his daughter turned to gold, but you never know what happens to her. I really wanted to explore this forgotten character.
TP: Can you describe going through the process from finding an agent to publishing a novel?
AS: It was exciting, terrifying and horrifying all in one. It’s exciting because there are all these possibilities and dreams of being an author and it only takes one yes from an agent and one yes from a publisher to get there, but it really is a long battle. It took me two books to get an agent. I tried to get an agent with “A Touch of Gold” but it wasn’t ready. I got an agent with a different book and that book went on submission and didn’t sell to a publisher. We wound up giving “A Touch of Gold” a complete makeover, sent that one out and it wound up being the one to get the book deal. It can be very hard, very depressing and you get to the point where you’re getting rejection after rejection. There was one day I think I got six rejections. You start questioning whether you’re meant to do this. Once you do finally get an agent, then you start revising. The agent then sends it out and that’s what’s called being on-sub. You can only submit to one editor per imprint at each publishing house. That’s where you’re counting on your agent to send it to the right person at each house. When a publisher picks you up, you get an editor and revise it again and do copy edits. Finally, it goes to marketing and publicity.
TP: Who is publishing “A Touch of Gold”?
AS: HarperCollins Blink. Blink is the young adult imprint of HarperCollins. It’s kind of like their PG-13 imprint which I love because that’s very much what I do. I have been very happy with them and their marketing.
TP: What are you working on next?
AS: This book actually has a sequel, so I am busy working on that one. The nice thing is after you sell your first book, you can usually sell your next one on proposal and only need a couple chapters and a synopsis. Right now I am working on my next book as well as marketing “A Touch of Gold” and getting pre-orders.
TP: How do people find you and order the book?
AS: They can find me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook Author page, and I have a website. They can purchase the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or ask their favorite indie bookstore to order it.
TP: Are you having a book launch?
AS: They’ll be a huge launch party on Friday, August 17, 7 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble in River Crossing. There’ll be fun giveaways, prizes, I’ll do a little reading and will be signing books. Everyone is welcome to come dressed in gold.
TP: What advice do you have for people who are starting out in fiction writing?
AS: Don’t give up and stick to what you want to write about. When you write about what you love, whether it’s dragons or unicorns or mysteries or serious literature, if you’re entertained your reader will be entertained. Keep writing, practicing and reading and that will make you a better writer.