Thank you so much to Sarah for hosting me as part of my blog tour. I really appreciate being featured on Workaday Reads. My debut novel is Transferral, a YA novel set in an alternative present day UK, published by Dancing Cat Books.
The initial idea for Transferral came in 2010, when I was listening to a nurse talking about her experiences during the SARS epidemic. She said she was treated like a criminal; when she wore her scrubs, people crossed the road to avoid her. That got me wondering. What if criminals were indeed contagious? What if instead of being incarcerated, they were sentenced to diseases?
I was excited about the concept, particularly as it would give me the opportunity to explore ideas about scapegoating that I’d been considering for a while. It tied in with the way in which disease, supposed ‘uncleanliness’ and fear of contagion has been used as a weapon against the underprivileged and other marginalized groups throughout history.
But although I experimented with several plots and worlds at the time, I hit a brick wall. I’ve read too many sci-fi novels set in fictional societies that no-one in their right minds would agree to be a part of. And I needed to believe in my invented world before I could build a book within it.
A couple of years later I had my first child. A baby girl who seemed to get endless ear infections, colds and fevers. I have never felt as helpless as I did listening to her cries and laboured breathing. One night, while lying on the nursery floor awake and worrying, I realized I would have done anything to take her pain away. To pass it on to someone else, someone more used to it, someone who deserved it more than she did. And I knew it was time to revisit my idea.
At the same time I was reading a lot of history. Particularly the history of London, a city I used to call home. And it occurred to me then that while I couldn’t believe in anyone agreeing to such a sentencing system now, it would seem merciful compared to the brutal punishments enacted on the (mostly poor) criminals of Victorian and Edwardian London.
And so the idea of a divergence point from our past formed. A time when the Victorians, so fond of experimenting with blood, electricity and live volunteers, discovered a way to transfer disease from one living human to another. And from there I developed an alternative history leading to a different version of our present-day world. Not a futuristic dystopian society with a tyrannical government, but a democracy. The same Parliamentary system as ours, the same City of London, the same people, but a society with an intertwined healthcare and criminal justice system.
And this is the world that Talia Hale is born into. A girl whose grief leaves her determined to make sure that bad things only happen to bad people, and whose privilege prevents her from seeing the damage that the system does – until the day she saves a girl from a madman with a cleaver. The girl disappears, and as Talia tries to track her down, she realizes that the attack – and her world – are not as simple as she thought.Transferral by Kate Blair
Published by Dancing Cat Books on Oct 24, 2015
Genres: Dystopia, YA
Find the book: Amazon, Goodreads
London, England, present day. This is the world as we know it, but with one key difference: medical science has found a way to remove diseases from the sick. The catch? They can only transfer the diseases into other living humans. The government now uses the technology to cure the innocent by infecting criminals.
It is into this world that Talia Hale is born. Now sixteen and the daughter of a prime ministerial candidate, she discovers that the effort to ensure that bad things happen only to bad people has turned a once-thriving community into a slum, and has made life perilous for two new friends.
When Talia’s father makes an election promise to send in the police to crack down on this community, Talia can only think of how much worse things will be for her friends. Will she defy her father to protect them, even if it means costing him the election?