It’s Sunday! Welcome to another awesome #BeyondTheBio interview here at PickMyYA! This weekly interview series features YA authors chatting with teen readers, and we’re so excited to have two very special people with us today.
Our first guest this week is Victoria Lee, whose highly-anticipated The Fever King comes out this Friday. It’s one of our most anticipated books of 2019. Before becoming an author, Victoria’s been a pianist, a hitchhiker, and an EMT. She loves pizza. (Same, am I right?)
And our teen interviewer today is Julie Anne. Julie Anne’s one of our interns here at PickMyYA and has interviewed tons of other amazing authors, including bestselling authors Joelle Charboneau and Ally Carter. Julie Anne’s a high school senior who hopes to attend Cal State Long Beach in the fall.
Alright, let's get to the interview! And don't forget to stick around to the end to find out how you can win a hardcover copy of The Fever King, host a future #BeyondTheBio interview, or both!
Julie Anne: Your debut novel The Fever King is unlike anything I've ever encountered! I was so engaged while reading it! Could you give our readers a little summary of what they can expect?
Victoria: The book takes place in a speculative North Carolina, in a world where magic’s a lethal virus and the rare survivors are infected with the ability to use magic. The main character is antifascist activist kid Noam who’s always fought against the anti-immigrant government (his parents are undocumented immigrants from Atlantia, a neighboring country that’s dealing with a lot of magic outbreaks). But when he gets infected with magic, he’s recruited by the Minister of Defense to join a government-funded magical training program. He decides he’ll let the Minister teach him the science behind his magic…but secretly plans to use it against the government and bring them down from the inside. It’s complicated by the fact that he doesn’t know who to trust—the father figure from his old life has turned against him now that he’s part of the government, he suspects the Minister of Defense has his own agenda, and he’s falling in love with the Minister’s cruel and powerful son.
Basically, you can expect a morally gray book with antiheroes, charismatic politicians, bad decisions, Jewish main characters, and a 100% queer cast.
Julie Anne: Although it's set in the future, your book tackles many political issues of our own time. In fact, Noam's the son of undocumented immigrants. How did modern politics influence your writing process?
Victoria: I actually wrote the book several years ago, and it was mostly inspired by my experiences as a Jewish person in diaspora. I wanted to write about the experience of feeling like an outsider in your country of birth—of not really being sure if there’s a country to which you ought to belong or not, of having an identity that is inherently politicized. I think this is an experience that a lot of groups share, and I hope that people will feel seen by it.
Julie Anne: My favorite character is Noam. He’s so realistic and enjoyable. Who’s yours?
Victoria: Oh man this is such a tough question! I love Noam so much—he’s so angry and passionate and full-hearted and I adore him. But…Dara might be my favorite? (Am I allowed to say that? Noam’s the main character after all!) He and I have shared certain life experiences that were so important for me to write about and represent on the page, and it’s hard not to have a huge soft spot for him because of that. Protect Dara Shirazi at all costs.
Victoria: I love We by Yevgeny Zamyatin—I read it in high school as part of an independent study and loved it a lot. I also have strong feelings about Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood—and assign a lot of my obsession with complicated villains to Attwood’s depiction of Crake. Other favorites are Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, and The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick.
Julie Anne: I really love the magic in your book. If you had powers, what would you do with it?
Victoria: I guess it depends what my power was! But secretly I want to be a telepath. Yes, I’ve watched X-Men, I know it has major downsides…but I’m also super nosy and am literally getting a Ph.D. in psychology so I guess you could say I’m already obsessed with how the human mind works.
I’d try to use my powers for good. Maybe I could spy on corrupt politicians’ thoughts and figure out a way to hold evil people accountable?
Julie Anne: Will there be any more books in The Fever King series?
Victoria: Yes! I just finished writing a draft of The Electric Heir, which is the sequel to The Fever King. This book will actually have two point of view characters, so we’ll get to be in the heads of both Noam and Dara. It starts six months after the events of The Fever King and is approximately eight billion times more angsty and dark than the first book. I’m excited for people to read it!
That’s it for today’s interview with Victoria. If you'd like to win a copy of The Fever King for yourself, just click on the image below to go to giveaway page. The contest is open to anyone living in the United States, but we'll give you a free extra entry if you're a teen.
Speaking of teens, if you're a book-loving teen like Julie Anne, we'd love to have you host an upcoming #BeyondTheBio interview. It's an easy and fun chance to interview your favorite YA authors, and we'll guide you through every step of the process. Click here to learn more!