Interview with Aamna Qureshi, Author of The Lady or the Lion

Hello, tea party attendees! We’re so excited to have Aamna Qureshi as a guest at our tea party today. I was incredibly lucky to read an ARC of The Lady or the Lion, and absolutely adored it — it comes out on July 20th, and this is one that you won’t want to miss!

Retells “The Lady or the Tiger?” against a Pakistan-inspired world of forbidden love and court intrigues.

Once there was a princess forced to choose a fate for her lover – to a future in the arms of a beautiful lady, or to death in the mouth of a lion? But what came first was the fate she would choose for herself.

As crown princess of Marghazar, Durkhanai Miangul will do anything to protect her people and her land. When her grandfather, the Badshah, is blamed for a deadly assault on the summit of neighboring leaders, the tribes call for his head. To assuage cries for war, the Badshah opens Marghazar’s gates to foreigners for the first time in centuries, in a sign of good faith. Enter Ambassador Asfandyar Afridi, a wry foreigner who admits outright that he is a spy. Stubborn, proud, and suspicious of foreigners, Durkhanai does not appreciate that he won’t bow to her every whim and instead talks circles around her.

And yet, she has to make him her ally to expose those truly responsible for the attack as more ambassadors from neighboring tribal districts arrive at court, each one of them with their own agenda and reasons to hide the truth.When a mysterious illness spreads through the village and the imperialists push hard on her borders, Durkhanai must sort through the ever shifting loyalties at court and her growing feelings for Asfandyar. Will she be able to leave the antics of a spoiled princess behind and become what her people need – a queen?

Hi Aamna! Thank you so much for joining our tea party today! We’re so happy you’re here! For our tea party guests who are meeting you for the first time, can you tell us a little about yourself, and The Lady or the Lion?

Hi everyone! My name is Aamna Qureshi and I’m a Pakistani-American Muslim who is so excited to be publishing her debut novel! The Lady or the Lion is set against a Pakistan-inspired world and features a desi princess, court intrigues, forbidden romance, and fairytale vibes.

If The Lady or the Lion was a tea party, what would be the theme of the tea party? What flavor of tea would your main characters be? What tea party treat do you think your characters would bring?

I love this because I love throwing tea parties and coincidentally, Durkhanai, our protagonist, is always calling for tea and snacks in her palace. The theme would be something extravagant and opulent, think fancy porcelain, polished silver dishes, lots of fresh flowers and candles. Durkhanai would definitely drink really strong and sweet masala chai. Asfandyar would bring a jar of homemade jam for the scones with raspberries he picked from his personal garden.

Without giving too much away, what scene — or quote — was your favorite to write?

There is a scene involving a mango I had a lot of fun writing. I adore mangos, and it’s such a personality trait for Pakistanis, so I loved including them in a scene that is really very….sweet.

What’s an album or song that describes your book? 

Wildest Dreams by Taylor Swift!

Looking forward to the future a little: what’s your wildest pie-in-the-sky writing dream? 

Movie adaptations! For The Lady or the Lion, it would be so cool for it to be adapted into a film in Pakistan and done in Urdu. I would love that

I loved the angst and romance between Durkhanai and Asfandyar, but particularly the angst! What are some of your favorite tropes? 

I also love angst! I love the “stranded because of the weather,” “only one blanket and must huddle for warmth,” and “spying and must hide in a confined space together” tropes to name a few, and these all make appearances in The Lady or the Lion.

We just have to ask (if you’re allowed to share) – what are you working on next? (We heard that a sequel to The Lady or the Lion might already be in the works, and you’ve got a YA Contemporary coming out in 2023)? 

Yes on both accounts! I just finished the first draft of the sequel, which will be out summer 2022, and the YA contemporary novel is out in 2023, and that’s a bildungsroman about a Pakistani-American Muslim girl who runs away from home in order to find herself.

Finally, what kind of message do you want readers to take away from The Lady or the Lion? 

It’s okay to stumble and struggle on your journey of figuring out who you are and who you wish to be.

Links for The Lady or the Lion: Goodreads | TheStorygraph | Bookshop | IndieBound | Preorder Gifts* | Personalized + Signed Copies
* Preorder gifts are open internationally!

Aamna Qureshi is a Pakistani, Muslim American who adores words. She grew up in a very loud household, surrounded by English (for school), Urdu (for conversation), and Punjabi (for emotion). Through her writing, she wishes to inspire a love for the beautiful country and rich culture that informed much of her identity. When she’s not writing, she loves to travel to new places where she can explore different cultures or to Pakistan where she can revitalize her roots. She also loves baking complicated desserts, drinking fancy teas and coffees, watching sappy rom-coms, and going for walks about the estate (her backyard). She currently lives in New York. Look for her on IG @aamna_qureshi and Twitter @aamnaqureshi_ and at her website

Follow Aamna: Website | Instagram | Twitter

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