The time it was about The Kingdom

Posted May 30, 2019 by Stacee in Blog Tours, Interviews | 1 Comment

I’m pretty sure everyone knows just how much I love Disneyland, so when The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg was pitched to me as “Disneyland meets Westworld”, I was 10000% in.  I devoured the book and loved the story and when it came time to sign up for the blog tour, I couldn’t respond fast enough.

Before we get to the interview with Jess, let’s check out the book.

Title: The Kingdom
Author: Jess Rothenberg
Pages: 352
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co
Pub Date: May 28, 2019
Find It: Macmillan | Indiebound | B&N | Amazon | Goodreads

Welcome to the Kingdom… where ‘Happily Ever After’ isn’t just a promise, but a rule.

Glimmering like a jewel behind its gateway, The Kingdom(TM) is an immersive fantasy theme park where guests soar on virtual dragons, castles loom like giants, and bioengineered species–formerly extinct–roam free.

Ana is one of seven Fantasists, beautiful “princesses” engineered to make dreams come true. When she meets park employee Owen, Ana begins to experience emotions beyond her programming including, for the first time… love.

But the fairytale becomes a nightmare when Ana is accused of murdering Owen, igniting the trial of the century. Through courtroom testimony, interviews, and Ana’s memories of Owen, emerges a tale of love, lies, and cruelty–and what it truly means to be human.

Sounds good, right?

1. Please give the elevator pitch for The Kingdom.

The Kingdom is a blend of sci-fi, fantasy, romance, and courtroom thriller—think Westworld meets Disney World meets the Serial podcast for teens—and is set in a futuristic theme park where seven half-human, half-android Fantasists (picture Disney princesses, but with highly advanced artificial intelligence) have been created to make guests’ wildest dreams come true, no matter what. But when one of the Kingdom’s most beloved Fantasists, Ana, is accused of murdering a park employee, she ignites the trial of the century. Did she do it? Could she do it? The truth is dangerous… and nobody wants the Kingdom to fall.

2. Which came first: the world or the characters?

A character’s voice tends to be the first thing I connect with when I’m writing, but with The Kingdom the world came first—this darkly fantastical place just kept whispering secrets to me I couldn’t wait to write down. (In a way, the Kingdom felt like a character, too.)

3. Why do you love Ana and Owen and why should we root for them?

In some ways, Ana and Owen could not be more different—he is human and she is a half-human, half-android hybrid after all—and yet, despite their differences, despite the fact that they are literally wired differently, they still come to share a very special and surprisingly human connection. I personally love stories that subvert expectation in the romance department, and Ana and Owen are no exception.

4. The story is told through Ana’s memories, courtroom testimony, and interviews. Did that make drafting easier or more complicated?

Both! The past/present narrative and mixed-media format (I wanted the readers to be uncovering clues about the murder and debating Ana’s guilt or innocence right along with the court) made the book way more fun to write, and also way more complicated to plot.

5. Without spoilers, what was your favorite scene to write?

The scene at mermaid lagoon. You’ll know it when you get there.

Speed {ish} round: 

1. You find out that you’re being published for the first time. Describe the next 5 minutes. 

As I recall, it was basically a five-minute rollercoaster of shock, elation, tears, euphoria, and cartwheels.

2. What three things would you take to a desert island?

Sunscreen, my ukulele, and a fully-stocked (i.e. water, food, working GPS) catamaran!

3. You can only read one book for the rest of your life. What is it?

Ooh, that’s hard! If we’re talking series, probably Harry Potter. (Obvious, I know.) But if it has to be just one book, I’d probably pick Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I love that book with my whole mother/daughter/wannabe-thru-hiker-heart. <3

4. Which book character would you want to hang out with?

Hermione Granger.

5. What is the one thing about publishing you wish someone would have told you?

That things are almost never exactly as they appear on social media and pretty much everyone (no matter how happy, easygoing, or successful they may seem) has their fair share of heartbreak, disappointment, anxiety, imposter syndrome and/or professional ups and downs.

6. You wake up and discover you are Bella in Twilight. You know how it plays out. What do you do differently?

Pick the underdog! (Underwolf?) #TeamJacob!


Jess Rothenberg is a writer and freelance editor who grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. A former editor of books for young readers, including the #1 International Bestselling Vampire Academy series, Jess lives in New York City with her husband, son, and cat-who-thinks-he’s-a-dog, Charlie. Her debut novel for teens, The Catastrophic History of You & Me, has been translated into more than a dozen languages.

website | twitter | instagram


Huge thanks to Macmillan for the invite and to Jess for taking the time! Be sure to follow along on the blog tour {see the graphic below} for all sorts of extra goodies.

The Kingdom released on May 28th and the buy links are above!

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