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Pride-iversary: An Interview with Felicia Davin

We're kicking off our Pride-iversary interviews with the one and only Felicia Davin. We talk about her new queer historical romance, The Scandalous Letters of V and J, where her inspiration for the story began, and what media she's currently enjoying.

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Tell us about your newest book, The Scandalous Letters of V and J, and what inspired you to write it.

The Scandalous Letters of V and J is set in 1820s Paris. The story follows V(ictor), a transmasc nonbinary person who is making their own way in the world and just discovering magic, as they meet and fall in love with J(ulie/n), a young artist who can use her artistic ability to shapeshift. V is fascinated by magic and wants to learn more, while J has been hurt by magic in the past and is committed to only using it in this very personal, private way. So they disagree about that and then they get into a whole lot of magical trouble.

This book is inspired by some of my favorite works of French literature. Dangerous Liaisons is a reference, as well as some other novels told in letters, because I just absolutely love writing letters and diary entries. The other major inspiration is the works of Honoré de Balzac, which follow a huge cast of characters around Paris. Balzac’s works contain some magic and queerness—especially characters who fall outside of, or sit in between, conventional, binary categories of gender. But they often don’t have happy endings. I wanted to play around with some of the ideas there, and the setting, and I wanted to see my characters live to fall in love. So that’s a big difference.

My book is way more sexually explicit than its inspirations. I like to write sex, and I thought it was a fun way to show these two characters exploring themselves and their relationship.

Can you tell us a little bit about your characters? Which, if any, did you identify with most and why?

Both V and J are really ambitious in their own way. V is really driven by curiosity, and especially having come out of this isolating, abusive home environment where they were denied an education, they want to know everything. So when they find out about magic, they immediately go hunting for books about it and start doing experiments to see what they’re capable of. They write a lot—because when you write an epistolary novel, you need main characters who write a lot—but one of their quirks that I particularly love is that they make a lot of lists. There’s even a spreadsheet. I love a spreadsheet too, so that was fun for me. This list-making tendency was one of those things that started as a little bit of a joke, but also, as soon as I’d written that spreadsheet, it gave me a lot of insight into this person. Like, who would do this? This is someone who really has a deep need to pursue the unknown and to make sense of things. They are eccentric and they are committed. (And, given that it’s a horny spreadsheet, naturally it was made by a horny person. I don’t think that counts as insight.)

J, on the other hand, really likes to master a skill and then perfect it. J is very, very good at painting and drawing. That’s the source of their power. They don’t share V’s need to go out and stare into the abyss, maybe toss something in just to see what happens. They do want to exercise their skill and to be recognized for it. I get that. J is quiet and pretty sweet, but also very competitive and very confident in their abilities, which isn’t something I identify with, but was really fun to write. There are several moments where she’s like, “Well, obviously, I’m the best” and it’s not contaminated by one iota of impostor syndrome, which is so foreign to me, but I loved giving her that trait.

What are your favourite tropes to write? Are they different from the ones you like to read?

I have so many beloved tropes! I love any kind of forced proximity, whether it’s living together out of necessity or being forced to work together or literally being handcuffed to each other or crammed into a small space. Making characters spend time together, especially when they don’t want to or when they feel conflicted about it because they do want to but they shouldn’t... that is such a fundamental part of a romance for me. I love to write it and I love to read it in any form.

A particular iteration that I always find delicious is “stranded in the wilderness and forced to work together to survive,” which isn’t in V and J, but shows up a lot in my work, including in one of the sequels to V and J, which stars different characters. (V would never willingly go anywhere near wilderness. They are an indoor cat. One of the ones that likes to push glasses of water off the counter, but still: indoor cat.)

You write queer stories. Who are some of your favourite queer characters from other media, and is there any representation you’d like to see more of?

I am absolutely obsessed with Tamsyn Muir’s Locked Tomb series (that starts with Gideon the Ninth). I love how profoundly lesbian it is—just women everywhere, falling in love and trying to save each other and grappling with (or maybe committing) atrocities. It explores gender in such a beautifully nuanced big way, too, since you’ve got all these people sharing bodies and souls with each other. Gideon is such a richly drawn butch character, and she and Harrow have this thorny, complicated thing between them that has been love and hate and perfect synchronicity in a fight, whether it’s against each other or someone else. Also, if Gideon and Harrow don’t kiss, I will die.

As for representation I’d like to see more of, I think we’re really lucky to live in such a bloom of new queer and trans books, and the main issue is finding out what’s out there—connecting authors with the readers who most want their books. Blogs like this one are doing that work. I’ve also used the category pages at LGBTQReads a lot, like I had a friend whose kid came out and I wanted to buy her a book with trans girls in it, and that list was so handy. They have lists for race and disability and family dynamics, among many other things, and also romance by setting and trope. It’s a really incredible resource.

We’d love a hint about any of your current projects! Are you working on anything that might please or even surprise your readers?

The Scandalous Letters of V and J is the first in a series. There are two more full-length novels planned, one of which is written and will come out in November. They have different main characters—people you meet if you read V and J—but are set in the same world and follow the same big plot arc. I also have a couple of side stories set in the same world that are nearly finished.

Our podcast focuses on media we’re currently loving. Are there any books, shows, movies, games, or podcasts you’re enjoying this Pride month? Any recommendations for our audience?

In honor of this being Swords & Sapphics, I recommend Rien Gray’s Out of True series. They’re all fantasy novellas about sapphic knights, inspired by Arthurian legend and very sexy. The two that are out right now are Valerin the Fair and Martis the Brazen. The first one is about a huge blond butch with a sword who gets seduced by a witch and the second one is about a stoic dragon shifter with a dark past who I just adored. Tons of nonbinary and trans characters everywhere. Really magical, unusual prose.


Felicia Davin (she/they) writes queer fantasy and sci-fi romance. When not writing and reading fiction, she teaches and translates French. She loves linguistics, singing, and baking. She is bisexual, but not ambidextrous. She writes a biweekly email newsletter about words and books called Word Suitcase, which is available at


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