Some time ago on Twitter I came across New Zealand author Rachael
Craw. For those who don't know her, Rachael is one of the funniest, most enthusiastic and generous tweeters out there and great fun to follow (check out her Twitter account to see for yourself!). Not only that but she's an
awesome writer and her debut novel, Spark - the first in a fantastic YA/crossover trilogy - has created a massive buzz amongst readers in the Southern hemisphere. It was also one of my favourite reads of 2104 so I'm
thrilled to welcome Rachael to the blog today. However, before you read her answers to my (many!) questions here's a little more about the woman herself:
Rachael Craw studied Classical Studies and Drama at the University of Canterbury, and became an English teacher after graduation. Working with teenagers has given her a natural bent towards Young Adult fiction and a desire to present a feisty female protagonist in her writing. Released in 2014, her debut novel, Spark, is the first in a series published by Walker Books Australia. Rachael was born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand, and currently lives in Nelson with her husband and three daughters.
You can connect with Rachael on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads or discover more about her by checking out her website. Don't forget to suscribe to her newsletter for all the latestest book-related goss!
Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Rachael. I'm so excited to have you stop by.
For me, your debut novel, Spark, was one of the most
exciting books of 2014. But instead of me rabbiting on about it here could you tell the readers what it’s about?
Spark is the first book in a YA sci-fi crossover trilogy about a seventeen year old girl named Evangeline Everton who discovers that she has been genetically engineered to save her best friend Kitty’s life. Evie is a Shield and Kitty’s touch has sparked the synthetic gene in her DNA, igniting special physical and telepathic abilities, binding her to act as Kitty’s protector. Kitty is being stalked by a Stray, a relentless genetically engineered killer. Evie must learn to master her new abilities quickly as time is running out for Kitty. This is set against the rigors of a normal teenage life where Evie is trying to settle in at a new school and trying not to fall in love with Kitty’s irresistible brother, Jamie.
You say that the idea for Spark came in a dream. Can you tell us a little more about that?
I was itching to write, desperate even. I knew I wanted to write YA, that I wanted my protagonist to be a kick ass teenage girl. I knew I wanted the story to have a fantastical element but I didn’t have the central concept. I sat on my bed one night and prayed a very desperate prayer for an idea, then I fell asleep and had the dream that became the prologue of Spark. In the dream I was running through a dark forest with strength, speed and reflexes beyond my natural ability. I could sense there was someone in danger out in the woods and I had to find them and save them because there was a killer out there stalking them in the dark also. When I woke I knew I had my idea and started asking lots of questions like how was I so fast and strong? How did I know there was someone in danger? Why was it my responsibility etc. The ideas for the Affinity Project, the creators of the genetic experiment, began to form in my mind
How does Stray, the second book in the trilogy,carry the story forward?
In Stray Evie faces a terrible moral dilemma when the Affinity Project finally comes for her. She decides to resist them and their strict protocols but her choices put her at odds with the organization she hates and the people she loves, including Jamie. Evie’s convictions lead to reckless actions which lead to far reaching consequences for which she will have to pay. Stray is a darker story than Spark and the stakes are sky high.
I believe that Shield, book number three, is with your editor. Can you give us some idea of what that book’s about?
Shield focuses on Evie coming to terms with her identity within the Affinity Project. It’s about confronting injustice and standing up against tyranny.
Spark, Stray and Shield are great titles. How did you decide upon them?
Each book title is named after one of the genetically modified characters in the trilogy, though each story is told from Evie’s perspective. Book 1 is called Spark because the story revolves around saving Evie’s Spark, Kitty. It also has a nice connotation of ‘beginnings’ and the sparks of ‘first love.’ Book 2 is called Stray because it revolves around Evie’s involvement with a particular Stray – the source of her moral dilemma. Book 3 is called Shield because it is all about Evie’s identity and what it means to really save someone.
I expect every author has chapters or scenes that don’t make it into the published book. What one deleted scene/chapter from Spark do you wish had been spared the cut? And Stray?
I don’t know that I could pick one – there are tons! Some of the cute character background details would have been fun.
Both of your books have incredible covers. Who created them and did you have any part in the design process?
The covers were designed by Amy Daoud at Walker Books Australia. The only input I gave was saying that I wanted the covers to be more kick-ass than kissy-kissy. Amy nailed it.
I agree! Moving on, there’s a large sci-fi element in your books. How much scientific research did you do to support this?
Very little. I’m less science and more fiction. I approached it like a game of Balderdash where you invent believable/technical definitions of made up words.
Coming next: Part 2 of Rachael's interview where she talks about writing, her path to publication, the Spark Army, and lots lots more.