Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Interview with Victoria Lee for The Electric Heir

The Electric Heir (Feverwake #2)

by Victoria Lee
Publisher: Skyscape
Release Date: March 17th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT
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Six months after Noam Álvaro helped overthrow the despotic government of Carolinia, the Atlantians have gained citizenship, and Lehrer is chancellor. But despite Lehrer’s image as a progressive humanitarian leader, Noam has finally remembered the truth that Lehrer forced him to forget—that Lehrer is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia.

Now that Noam remembers the full extent of Lehrer’s crimes, he’s determined to use his influence with Lehrer to bring him down for good. If Lehrer realizes Noam has evaded his control—and that Noam is plotting against him—Noam’s dead. So he must keep playing the role of Lehrer’s protégé until he can steal enough vaccine to stop the virus.

Meanwhile Dara Shirazi returns to Carolinia, his magic stripped by the same vaccine that saved his life. But Dara’s attempts to ally himself with Noam prove that their methods for defeating Lehrer are violently misaligned. Dara fears Noam has only gotten himself more deeply entangled in Lehrer’s web. Sooner or later, playing double agent might cost Noam his life.

Can you briefly describe the FEVER WAKE series, its characters and what’s going to happen in THE ELECTRIC HEIR?

In THE ELECTRIC HEIR, we pick up six months after the events of THE FEVER KING. Noam is with Lehrer, and secretly fighting to bring him down from the inside. Dara returns to Carolinia without his magic, but teamed up with a group of quarantined zone rebels seeking to kill Lehrer. Both Noam and Dara want the same thing, but their methods for achieving it are vastly different, and they have to decide if they can trust each other to do the right thing.

Who would you say is your favourite character now from the story and why?

This is a hard one! I love Noam, obviously—I mean, he’s the main character—but if I’m brutally honest, Dara is my favorite. He represents so much of what I was trying to say with this book. I relate a lot to his experiences, and honestly I just want him to be happy. 

How did the story occur to you? Did you find inspiration anywhere?

It took me a really long to figure out what story I was actually trying to tell with this series. I wrote several versions of The Fever King trying to figure it out! Parts of the book were originally ideas for other books that ended up getting cobbled together Frankenstein’s-monster style for TFK

Primarily, I wanted to write about the intersection of intergenerational and personal trauma—about what it means to face our trauma, and the way the world can demand that we “have” to confront our abusers. In The Electric Heir, a lot of the plot also deals with how people come to accept that things that are happening to them are traumatic or abusive, and to show the ways that different people handle abuse both when they’re recovering from it and when it’s still ongoing. I feel like a lot of stories talk about the journey that happens after abuse—but it’s equally important to tell the story of surviving in the moment. The book touches on a lot of adjacent issues, like what it means when you aren’t a “good” victim or don’t react to trauma the way people want you to, or how survivors can victim-blame each other and themselves, and the cognitive dissonance of gaslighting yourself into believing the abuse is acceptable because that’s easier than admitting the truth.

If you could choose one song to describe THE ELECTRIC HEIR, which one would it be?

Oh this question is a fun one. Probably “You Can Run” by Adam Jones, which my friend sent to me once because she thought it would be the perfect song for a movie trailer for The Electric Heir. And you gotta admit the lyrics are spot-on.

Which book was most difficult to write and which one the most fun to write and why?

I definitely think The Fever King was more difficult to write—I had to get to know the characters and their world and figure out a way to get all the information on the page that was necessary for the reader to understand the status quo so that I could start to deconstruct it. But in The Electric Heir, although it deals with heavier issues, I was working with characters that I now knew and understood intimately; it was easier to know how they would react to situations and what the emotional arc of their stories was, and how that emotional arc would influence the plot.

What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date?

Have a lapsang souchong tea, which is a very smoky black tea that reminds me of whisky, and drink it while sitting in the government complex—sorry, I mean American Tobacco Campus—courtyard in downtown Durham, North Carolina.

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish THE ELECTRIC HEIR?

I loved Wilder Girls by Rory Power—it’s such a deliciously twisted eco thriller and it manages to balance being literary with being suspenseful perfectly. Plus I love what Rory does with structure and language in this book. Just, A++.

From a trauma literature perspective, I also highly recommend My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell, which deals with a high school student’s coercive and manipulative relationship with her teacher, and her slow journey toward understanding what has happened to her.

What would you say is the most difficult part of writing a book/series?

Revisions. Well, starting the revision, specifically. When you know that you have to break the book in order to make it better, but you can’t quite bring yourself to make the first cut.

Although maybe I’m just saying that because I’m in revisions right now on a book…. Ask me while drafting and I’ll probably say writing beginnings, because you have to set up the world and characters and stakes, or writing endings because you have to tie up all the loose ends.

As a reader, what is the “one thing” that a mind-blowing story must have, in your opinion?

Good characters, for sure. An excellent plot is not nearly as fun if you don’t have characters involved that you care about—and the characters should influence the plot, too, such that their weaknesses and choices drive the story forward.

What’s next for you?

My next book is called A Lesson in Vengeance, and it comes out summer 2021 from Delacorte/Penguin Random House. It’s a sapphic dark academia about a girl who is grieving the death of her former girlfriend, then meets an enigmatic literary prodigy who recruits her to plot the perfect murder as research for a book. It’s very gothic and dramatic and pretentious. Also, there are witches.

Victoria Lee grew up in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent twelve ascetic years as a vegetarian before discovering spicy chicken wings are, in fact, a delicacy. She’s been a state finalist competitive pianist, a hitchhiker, a pizza connoisseur, an EMT, an expat in China and Sweden, and a science doctoral student. She’s also a bit of a snob about fancy whisky.

Victoria writes early in the morning, then spends the rest of the day trying to impress her border collie puppy and make her experiments work.

She is represented by Holly Root and Taylor Haggerty at Root Literary.


  1. Fantasy is my favorite genre, so this book is on my TBR.

  2. I, too, hate despotic governments and I look forward to reading this!