Zhang '19 Publishes Fantasy Novel in China

by St. Andrew's Communications Staff
Five years ago, Lisa Zhang awoke from an incredible dream – she and her friends possessed magical powers that they employed as they embarked on a journey inside a school. Rather than let her memory of the dream pass, she wrote it down.
Today, she can hold that dream in her hands as a published book. Zhang ’19, an international student from China who will graduate this week, wrote, edited, and published her novel, “埃斯弗尔列车上的故事:屠龙,” translated into English as “Tale of the Train Esrever: Slay The Dragon,” all while studying at St. Andrew’s.

“Tale of the Train Esrever: Slay The Dragon” tells the story of 梅林·莱尔斯雷利, or Merlin Lylesreilly, who is searching for another world and finds himself in one occupied by wizards and witches – “sort of like Harry Potter,” Zhang said.

“He is just trying to live a normal life and ignore the problems…[but] he doesn’t see the full picture of what is happening,” she said. “He thinks it’s a utopia, but it’s not.”

Writing has long been a pastime for Zhang; she once wrote a novel as a gift for a friend. “Tale of the Train Esrever: Slay The Dragon” was an opportunity for Zhang to test her ability to write for a wider audience while also exploring an idea that inspired her.

She started writing the book in 2016 and finished her text in January 2018. As she navigated the Oral History Project and studied for exams, Zhang was editing her final draft and preparing it for a summer printing through a small publishing house in China.

“I think I was more excited before I got to hold it, just seeing the pictures from my editor,” Zhang said. “That was the most exciting moment, and signing the contract.”

Five hundred copies were printed in the first run in July 2018, and so far 100 have been placed in libraries and bookstores in China. Zhang, who is a member of the Cum Laude Society and interned last summer with the CTTL’s Science of Teaching and School Leadership Academy, encouraged students with a similar dream to “write first and worry about it later.”

“It’s stressful but also fun,” Zhang said of balancing work as a student and an author. “It’s a special experience.”

Zhang will attend the University of Virginia, where she plans to explore majors in business, philosophy and psychology. She has started writing two more books: a sequel to “Tale of the Train Esrever: Slay The Dragon” that tells Merlin’s story from the perspective of a witch, and one on international students and mental health.

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St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is a private, coeducational college preparatory day school for students in preschool (Age 2) through grade 12, located in Potomac, Maryland.