While there’s some debate to their size, and to whether they’re cute or scary when they’re babies, everyone agrees that dragons are lizards. Everyone, it seems, except writer Ty Drago, who apparently thinks his name entitles him to rewrite the rules of biology however he sees fit for his new science fiction novel Dragons (paperback, Kindle). In the following email interview, Drago attempts to justify his perversion of biology, while also explaining what inspired and influenced this sci-fi story.
I always think it best to begin with a plot summary. So, what is Dragons about, and when and where does it take place?
The book is set at the end of this century. By then, space travel has been fully privatized, with colonies established on the moon, Mars, and some of the larger asteroids, all of it run by Coffin Solar Exploration (CSE for short) and its powerful founder and CEO, Charles Coffin.
Eighteen-year-old Andy Brand awakens to find himself a prisoner, held by faceless captors who want him to do the seemingly impossible: to create fire without benefit of a match. You see, they know what Andy has learned all his life to never admit: that Andy isn’t human. He’s a Dragon, one of a vanishingly small subspecies of homo sapiens who are capable of generating incredible amount of thermal energy. Throughout history, Dragons have been among us, living quiet lives, trying to stay under the radar — because every time they don’t, something disastrous happens.
But aren’t there always folks who figure they can control the uncontrollable?
Now, Charles Coffin and the CSE need a Dragon to help them rescue a group of colonists being held hostage on a remote ice moon. But, as Andy soon learns, not all is what it seems.
And that’s as much as you get…
Where did you get the idea for Dragons, and how, if at all, did that idea change as you wrote this novel?
Believe it or not, when I first had the idea, I planned on using the term “salamander” instead of “dragon.” In legend, salamanders are fire creatures, like dragons, but more timid and less threatening. In fact, the working title of the early drafts was “Call Me Salamander.” But I quickly realized I was selling my protagonist, and in fact the whole genre, a bit short. Andy’s a “dragon” not a “salamander!” That becomes evident pretty early on.
Dragons sounds like a sci-fi story. Is that how you’d describe it?
This is absolutely science fiction. I’m not “genre-bending,” like if you were to drop a Martian into The Lord Of The Rings. The title is meant to be a tiny bit ironic, since the book’s central theme deals with the “myth” of dragons and the reality behind those legends. The fun lies in taking the big, scaley, fire-breathing lizard thing and turning it on its ear. My dragon is a lanky, eighteen-year-old kid from the ‘burbs.
Dragons is not your first novel. Are there any writers who had a particular big influence on this story, but not on anything else you’ve written?
That’s easy. Ben Bova. I devoured his Grand Tour, what is sometimes called his planet series. I loved the way he would explore alien worlds using good science and, perhaps more importantly, strong, well-written characters. He’s always been a hero of mine, but his influence is especially strong with Dragons.
How about such non-literary influences as movies, TV shows, or games; did any of them have a big influence on Dragons?
Gotta say no to this one. I love video games, and they can sometimes have solid plots, but I’ve never come across one that inspired me as a writer. I hope I haven’t offended anybody out there.
Sci-fi stories like Dragons are sometimes stand-alone novels and sometimes they’re part of larger sagas. What is Dragons?
I wrote Dragons as a stand-alone novel, but I left in the “hooks” that would let me craft a worthy sequel if the opportunity and inclination presented themselves. I don’t like completely closing the door on any of my characters. If Andy and his struggles resonate with readers, I can absolutely see his story continuing.
You said a moment ago that Dragons hadn’t been influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games. But do you think Dragons could work as a movie, show, or game?
As it happens, there’s been a movie “in the works” based on the first book in my Undertakers series for quite some time now. I’d love the see that happen with Dragons. A series would be fun, too. Less sure about a video game, though. I have other novels that I think would be a better fit for that particular medium.
So if someone wanted to make Dragons into a movie or show, who would you want them to cast as Andy and the other main characters?
I could see Charlie Heaton as Andy Brand. He plays Jonathan on Stranger Things and was Sam in The New Mutants. He’s a great actor and I think he’d bring the right gravitas to the role.
I think Anya Taylor-Joy [also The New Mutants] would be absolutely great as Miranda. Without dishing out any spoilers, I think she could bring just the right mix of sexy and scary to the role.
And [Captain Marvel‘s] Brie Larson would be a solid fit for Kim Shelton.
Finally, if someone enjoys Dragons, which of your other books would you suggest they read next and why that one?
Well, I love pointing people toward Torq, my science fiction / dystopian / superhero novel that came out in 2018. It’s a great story and I’m insanely proud of it. And, of course, there’s always my five-book Undertakers series, which has about as unique a take on the “zombie invasion” theme I think you’ll likely to find.