The Blue Dragon's Bite
by Andrea Fowkes
Russia 2085: A deadly virus – HN17 (Blue Dragon Flu) has killed half the world’s population. But there is hope. With the virus in decline, humanity is rebuilding.
After eleven years in an isolation camp, Katya’s finally reunited with her family. Now she’s learning to navigate the high-tech city of New St Petersburg with help from her sister, and possibly falling for an annoying, gorgeous boy.
But Katya’s ill – is it HN17?
If she asks for help, she’ll be sent back to camp, never to see her family again. But if she doesn’t say anything, Katya, her family, the whole city – everyone could die. Can Katya save her family, the city and herself?
About the Author
Growing up on the move gave Andrea a wonder for the world, a fascination for how it works and a belief that science is essentially practical magic. Even though she’s stopped moving house, she continues to travel and be amazed.
Andrea uses the attention to detail she learned as a jewellery designer and her experiences on her travels to add depth and insight to her writing. She currently lives in London with her family.
The Blue Dragon’s Bite by Andrea Fowkes, introduced by Isobel Clara
The limits of science are as boundless as our imagination. That’s the great joy and lesson of Katya’s story. I remember being introduced to her sister Sery’s bedroom for the first time. A whole solar system brought to life within just four walls: tangible, vivid, extraordinary. I felt Katya’s excitement, and my own, as I shared through her eyes, the wonder of what technology can achieve. Through Andrea’s writing, science becomes magic.
As an only child, I never really craved brothers or sisters… until I read this manuscript. They bicker and fight (as all the best people do), but the love that sisters Katya and Sery share is so fierce, it conquers all. In fact, it might just save the world too.
What was your inspiration for the story?
For me, story ideas tend to be amalgamations of things. After swine flu and Ebola, I saw that a more intense pandemic could be the beginning of a story. This thought combined with my interest in AI, the rise in tech and our reliance on it, wove itself into an idea for a new story. When Covid hit I’d already invested a lot of time researching and had written the synopsis and first ten chapters. I thought of abandoning it but decided Covid only makes it more relevant.
This story isn’t just about the virus it’s about our increasing reliance on AI and technology: the wonder and danger that makes it a double-edged sword. It’s about complicated friendships, tight sibling bonds and toxic perfectionism.
What was your most memorable moment on the MA?
The Summer Conference in 2019; students from Vermont came over to Corsham Court. It was wonderful to be part of an international gathering of writers, all connected by a love of writing for young people. But there were so many wonderful things at Corsham: the crazy amount of hibernating ladybirds in one of the classrooms, the peacocks wandering the village, hedges shaped into clouds – all quite amazing on a daily basis.
What is the most important thing you learned on the MA?
It’s so hard to pick one; there were so many lightbulb moments. The most important things I learned on the MA, specifically: rhetoric from Joanna Nadin, narrative distance from Lucy Christopher and the subtleties of language from David Almond. Generally: the need for persistence and self-belief if you’re pursuing a life as a writer, but also that there is a community of like-minded people who are there with you.
What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
Those amazing moments when things click into place. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, you know what your characters or plot have to do or say next; it’s kind of like magic. But the work I love is editing. Once you have the fabric of the story you can start shaping it, adding layers and depth – definitely my favourite part of the writing process.
What do you like doing when you’re not writing?
I like reading, travelling, going to exhibitions, the theatre – art in all its forms. I like to do things that make me look at the world in a new way, or question it – things that make me think.
What is your top piece of advice for aspiring writers?
Keep going, keep working at your craft, the first draft is almost always rubbish but there are diamonds in the seams waiting for you to make them into something beautiful and new.
What was your favourite book as a child?
I loved anything with tons of adventure and magic. Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree was a favourite as it had lots of both.
What place in fiction do you most want to visit?
My thoughts immediately jumped to Hogwarts or Middle-earth, but future worlds also have a big pull for me. I think there’s a lot of wonder in the future. So I’d have to say the high-tech city of New St Petersburg in my story would be somewhere I’d love to go.