Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Caroline Trussell Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/20/2024
  • Jenna Satterthwaite Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/10/2024
  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.


Happy Monday Everyone! Today I'm excited to have debut author Victoria Lee here with her agents Holly Root and Taylor Haggerty to celebrate her YA fantasy THE FEVER KING. The magic sounds really unique, and it's great to see a fantasy with a male main character.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

Now here are Victoria, Holly, and Taylor!

Taylor and Holly to Victoria:

  1. Please tell us everything you know about psychology and the human brain in one paragraph. If that is too much, I guess we’ll settle for how does your research/teaching work influence your writing?
Probably the biggest influence is on my writing that stems from psychology/neuro research is my interest in character development. For better or for worse, I spend a lot of time thinking about why everyone in my books does what they do...including the villains. But I think there’s also an element of bringing psychology knowledge to inform how I structure a book, too. There’s a whole field of psychology that focuses on narrative and what we find most compelling or surprising or thrilling in a story. And when I’m reading a book I often find myself asking why I enjoy the parts I enjoy--or am surprised when I’m surprised--or bored when I’m bored. And a lot of times the answer is psychological--like: “I’m not personally experiencing enough cognitive dissonance from this book, so the tension feels manufactured.”

  1. You are the master of the writers retreat. What are the must-have ingredients for a perfect writing getaway?
Well, me and my writing friend have noticed a trend: every airbnb we’ve rented for a writing retreat has come complete with taxidermied animal heads. Is the presence of a couple skulls necessary to pound out a few thousand words a day? You tell me. I will say that whiskey comes in handy, as does the perfect soundtrack, carefully-scheduled breaks, writing sprints, and a cheeseboard.

  1. What do you do for self-care, given the demands of your two brilliant careers?
I have started doing Muay Thai, which is a style of martial arts. It’s been great for reducing my anxiety and building confidence. Plus, who doesn’t like to hit things sometimes?

I also really recommend bath bombs. Particularly the sparkly kind.

  1. What have you discovered about yourself as a writer during the writing of your second book?
I’ve learned that it’s really important to plot even more than I’m already plotting. By which I mean: I need a still-more-detailed outline, so I avoid those mid-book crisis moments of “shit, something else needs to happen before this next part, but I have no idea what.”

I’ve also gotten better at just letting myself push past awkward scenes and telling myself I’ll fix in revisions.

  1. You’re an *excellent* follow on Instagram. What accounts do you love to follow?
In terms of bookish accounts, my favorite is Tes at paperbackbones. She loves all the same books I do (Grishaverse, The Secret History) and her aesthetic is really on point.

I also recommend spinatale, booknerd_reads, and printedalphabet.

In terms of non bookish accounts: helena.moore’s style is incredible.

  1. One of the things we loved about your book was the setting. Can you tell us more about how you built the physical world of The Fever King, and how you balanced real locations with your alt-history worldbuilding?
So the book is set in my hometown, as y’all know, and so writing in this setting was very close to my heart. I very much started from that—the foundation of reality—and built the alt history world building on top of it. All the differences between the Durhams end up being subtle in some ways...but they have major ramifications.

  1. If your main characters, Noam and Dara, had to pick a crush from another novel’s cast of characters--who would their book-love be?
Noam would probably be in love with either Vasya from The Bear and the Nightingale or literally-Satan from The Master and Margarita.

Dara, on the other hand, would definitely go for a bad boy type like Ronan from The Raven Boys.

8. In The Fever King, your characters have to master the underlying scientific principles associated with their powers before they can make use of their magic. If you acquired witching powers today (ideally without the virus!) what powers would be 1) the most fun and 2) the most difficult for you to master?
“Without the virus” being the operative phrase! Hmm. Well, I think teleportation would be most fun because space is time so you could space travel and time travel. But it would probably also be the most difficult for me to master cause...physics. Ha.

  1. Without giving too much away, what can readers expect from the sequel, The Electric Heir?
Ummm. It’ll be very dark. And twisted. And I’m so sorry. I really am.

Victoria to Holly & Taylor:

  1. What is the most exciting part of being an agent for both of you?
Taylor votes for the joy of telling clients good news and the excitement of finding something new in the slush that you love and can’t wait to share with others. Holly thinks it’s getting a front-row seat when a book takes off and really finds its readers.

  1. What is the least exciting part of being an agent?
The endless, oppressive, never-ending tide of email. Too bleak? Just giving you our truth here. Ha!

  1. If you had to do any other job in the world, what would you be?
Holly has spent perhaps too much time thinking about this! But she’s still here, so clearly it’s all good. She would either go to medical school or run an adorable bra shop. Taylor would own a beachfront aerial yoga studio (ideally next door to Holly’s bra shop!).

  1. What does a day in the agent life look like for y’all?
Every day is a little bit different, depending on whether we’re trying to get a submission out the door,
go over a tricky royalty statement, close a new deal, or strategize about an upcoming marketing plan. In general though, we find that it’s really important to set and protect our priorities for the day, because there is so much work to be done that you could do nothing but react to your inbox all day. And some days that’s what happens, but if you’re only ever reacting, you can’t advance your clients’ goals as much as you want, and that’s one of the biggest ways we’re adding value for our clients. So striking a balance between responsiveness and accomplishing the important--rather than just the momentarily urgent--is a big part of the day to day balance.

  1. How do you know you’ve found an author you want to work with?
For Holly, it’s usually a book that moves me beyond the “should this be published?” and into “I have to be the one selling it.”  Taylor wants to connect with the voice above all else. For both of us, we really pride ourselves on working with wonderful humans--kind, compassionate, thoughtful--and so we’re also looking to get a feel for whether an author has a similar mindset.

  1. Do you see writing as a business? What suggestions do you have for authors about viewing themselves as entrepreneurs?
The IRS definitely sees writing as a business, and so to that we say: Keep your check stubs. KEEP YOUR CHECK STUBS. Seriously though, keep your check stubs. Every year we guide authors through tax season, and we have dealt with Schedule C ourselves too, so we speak from experience when we say the best thing you can do is right now, this very minute: designate a spot where you put every scrap of documentation related to money received or spent on your career as an author. If you’re next-level, also pop this data into a spreadsheet. Your book purchases, travel, commissions withheld by your agency, etc. are all deductible and keeping them all in one place is the best gift you can give your future self.

  1. What is your top advice for anyone who might want to become an agent themselves?
The best way to learn this job is to work in very close proximity to someone who is doing it. We both came up under the apprenticeship path--working for established agents as assistants, then taking on our own clients--so we’re biased toward it, but also it is a proven, great way to learn the business. It’s really hard to get the kind of deep insight we both benefited from working remotely, which I know is a challenge for many people interested in the field. If there are reputable agents near you, it can never hurt to email and make your case for why you would be an asset to their agency; agent your way into an assistant gig by pitching something (yourself, in this case) in a way that makes people want to get onboard! You might not hear back, but what if you get a job that opens every door?

  1. What is your top advice for writers who are a) querying; b) about to go on submission to editors; c) new debuts; d) established authors?
A: Be selective about who you send to and don’t settle for an agent who isn’t as great as what you and your work deserve.
B: Take up yoga and/or stock your wine cellar (i.e. find ways to take care of yourself through the process); start writing a new (unrelated) book.
C: Look for the joy in each milestone along the way instead of the fear. Remember that comparison is the thief of joy. Also, the Internet is forever.
D: Honestly all of the above! Ha!

  1. What are some non-client books you each read lately that you loved?
Circe by Madeline Miller, Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu, My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing, The Big Ones by Lucy Jones & On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

  1. Would you rather have to bathe in vanilla coke every day for the rest of your life, or wear only clothes made out of meat a la Lady Gaga?
VANILLA COKE. Very much the vanilla coke option. We are unanimous.

Thanks for sharing all your advice. You can find Victoria at:

Victoria twitter: twitter.com/sosaidvictoria
Victoria instagram: Instagram.com/sosaidvictoria
Victoria site: victorialeewrites.com

To find Holly and Taylor:

Root Literary site: rootliterary.com
Holly twitter: twitter.com/hroot

Taylor twitter: twitter.com/tayhaggerty

Victoria has generously offered a signed copy of THE FEVER KING and Holly and Taylor are offering a query critique for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through March 23rd. If you do not want to be included in the critique giveaway, please let me know in the comments. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. The book giveaway is U.S. and the query critique giveaway is International.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, March 18th I have an interview with debut author Sabina Khan and a giveaway of her YA contemporary/multicultural the love & lies of Rukhsana Ali

Thursday, March 14th I'm participating in the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop

Monday, March 25th I have an agent spotlight interview with Katelyn Uplinger and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, April 3rd I have an interview with debut author Gillian McDunn and a giveaway of her MG contemporary CATEPILLAR SUMMER and my IWSG post

Monday, April 8th I have an interview with debut author Swati Teerhadla and a giveaway of her YA fantasy THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT

Wednesday, April 10th I have an agent spotlight interview with Mary Cummings and a query critique giveaway

Monday, April 15th I have an interview with author Tanya Drecker and a giveaway of her MG fantasy MUSIC BOXES

Hope to see you on Thursday!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Believe me, I keep track of all check stubs and expenses!

Brenda said...

The Fever King sounds intriguing. Have a lovely week Natalie!

K. Mullane said...

Thanks for a great post. Interesting to hear about psychology focused on narrative, will look in to that. Always like reading agent tips and info on querying while in the trenches. Appreciate all the info you post Natalie!

Joanne R. Fritz said...

This is another wonderful and thorough post. Thank you, Natalie. I learn something every time I read one of your posts. In this case, the psychology/neuro aspect is especially intriguing.

Love the agent dialogue with Victoria. I always wondered how agents handled all the emails they must receive!

nashvillecats2 said...

Always a pleasure to read all the news and views Natalie. A bit late in the day for me but none the less enjoyable.


Elizabeth Seckman said...

I banned my husband's animal carcass to the basement after we got married. Maybe I should dust it off, grab some whiskey, and get busy.

Kimberly Gabriel said...

Great interview! I love how Victoria wove in so much psychology into her book.

Jessy Yarrell said...

This was a good interview.

Pat Hatt said...

I've seen many a animal head in many a yard, should I steal one to get more writing done?

Unknown said...

I can't wait to read this book!

Reese K Jones said...

Loved this interview/guest post!

Unknown said...

Great interview! I appreciate the advice you gave to those of us interested in becoming an agent, especially mentioning remote work or any similar work near you. As someone in the Midwest, it feels impossible to break in, so to speak, but this gave me hope! Great interviews.

Danielle H. said...

I enjoyed the interview and getting to know the author. This book is a must read for me and now that I know the author truly gets to know her charcters' motivations, I know it's going to be an exciting read. Please do not enter me in the critique giveaway. I shared on Tumblr: http://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/183406032902/victoria-lee-holly-root-taylor-haggerty-guest

Angie Quantrell said...

Great interviews! Oh, the writing paths we tread! Thanks for sharing with us. :) angelecolline at yahoo dot com

DMS said...

This sounds like an amazing book. Very intriguing! Interesting to read the interview. I had no idea that so many airbnbs had taxidermy animals. Best of luck to Victoria.

Jamie said...

Awesome interview! Thanks for sharing. goetia_2000@yahoo.com

Tonja Drecker said...

The cover is amazing...as is the surmise! Thanks for the fun interview too.

Judith L. Roth said...

A beachfront aerial yoga studio--great answer!

Empty Nest Insider said...

Lots of good advice here. Wine and yoga sound like a winning combination!


Megan said...

I'd LOVE to win a copy of the Fever King, it sounds wonderful! :)
GFC: Megan S.
I tweeted: https://twitter.com/WordsThatStay1/status/1106138138660007936
Email: megan(dot)clarsach(at)gmail(dot)com

Kristin Lenz said...

Fun interview, everyone!
Natalie, I'm querying again, so yes please enter me in the giveaway. So great to see the blog continuing strong and with a great line-up of posts ahead. Cheers!

Caitlin said...

I'd love a signed copy of The Fever King but am not interested in a critique.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the giveaway!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and my email is kirabauthor@gmail.com.

Unknown said...

Three for one! Thanks for the peak behind the curtain from both sides.

Laurence King said...

What a delicious interview! Love the agents/author dynamic :) My email: laurence2@comcast.net

SStokes said...

This interview made me laugh out loud multiple times. But one quibble...meat dress FTW. my email: stacyastokes (at) (gmail). Thanks for the giveaway!