On the blog today I welcome back New Zealand author Rachael Craw, whose YA crossover novel Stray (the second in the Spark trilogy) was published recently. Before reading Part 2 of her interview here's a quick reminder about Rachael 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 TwitterFacebook, and Goodreads or find out more about her by checking out her website. Don't forget to suscribe to her newsletter for all the latestest book-related goss! 

What was your path to publication?

It took me 5.5 years from dream to publication. I wrote a couple of drafts and then I had my manuscript professionally assessed. I think I had 3 assessments over 3 years and then 1 year of mentoring. Then it was picked up in its second submission.


What two pieces of advice would you give to writers striving to be published?

Get help and learn to receive criticism.

You read Drama and Classical Studies at university. How have your studies influenced your writing? 

I suppose my studies have fed my love of the hero-archetype and the theme of fate versus freewill, especially Classical Studies and Shakespearean tragedy.  The Spark trilogy is an exploration of both of these concepts in storytelling.


Can you tell us a bit about your writing process?

I am a pantser, mostly, but I am trying to learn to plot. I’m not very good at it. I’m more of an external processor so I often don’t know what I think or what I want to happen in the story until I write it. It is a very long winded approach but it’s got me this far.

Leading on from the previous question what challenges, if any, did you face in creating a YA trilogy?

I think the biggest concern in writing a trilogy is making sure each plot arc is a complete and dynamic story within the overarching storyline.


What do plan to write once you’ve completed the final book the Spark trilogy?

I would love to write some fantasy or magical realism.


You have a fantastic online relationship with your readers, not the least of which is the awesome #SparkArmy. So, Rach, what’s that all about?

The #SparkArmy is simply a rallying hashtag used by Spark-enthusiasts when tweeting about Spark related news. It was a label tossed into the twitterverse by Kate from Fictional Thoughts blog. It was picked up by Eugenia from Genie in Book and Kelly from Diva Book Nerd, two YA book bloggers who started a goodreads #SparkArmy board, where people can post discussions about the trilogy. It’s really only a handful of people but they are very supportive and keen.

I was intrigued by the #TeenCon2015 Book Boyfriend Battle. Can you tell the readers about this?

This was a part of the Sydney Writers Festival where each publisher submitted 2 book boyfriends from their titles to compete in a debate. My publicist from Walker Books went representing Jamie from Spark and Jace from Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments. Each publishing house had 1 minute to promote each book boyfriend and the audience of YA readers screamed and clapped their support for the book boyfriend they loved best. The winner was Dimitri from Vampire Academy! It was a hugely successful event and every attendee went home with a bag full of free books (including Spark).

Now let's round off the interview with a few quickfire questions:


What’s the best place you’ve ever visited? And the worst?

Washington DC was the best. The Springs Junction public toilets travelling to the West Coast of the South Island of NZ is the worst.


What novel do you wish you’d written and why?

Ack! So many! The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness, Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.


What’s harder to write, dialogue or setting?

I love both but dialogue best of all.


If you were only allowed a presence on one of these social media sites, which would it be - Twitter, Facebook or Goodreads? Why?

Twitter because 140 characters does the job nicely.


Apart from people, what three items could you not live without?

Books and, sadly, my laptop, and my phone.


Pizza or curry?



Koala or emu?

Hmmmm, neither


Swim in a lake or the sea?

Sea, but only close to shore as I have a terror of open water.


Blogger or vlogger?

I do neither.


What makes you angry?



When are you at your happiest?

With my besties.


You said on your website that you once had ambitions to be an actor. If a Hollywood director offered you the lead role in a guaranteed blockbuster movie on the proviso that you could never write again, would you take it?



Still on the theme of movies, who would play you in the film of your life?

Jennifer Donnelly! (She is also my ultimate pick for playing Miriam in Spark.)


And who would play Evie, Kitty and Jamie from your books?

Because they are young they would need to be played by up and comers, I think. I would like Jamie and Kitty to be properly English though.


Why did you want to be an air hostess when you grew up?

When I was 8 EVERYBODY wanted to be an air hostess. LOL It was considered glamourous!


What five things would you lock in Room 101?

Is this a room I should know about? Should I say bodies? Shameful secrets? Past mistakes? I’m not sure!


And finally, what would you say to anyone who hasn’t yet read your books?

I promise you a damn good time.


Thanks again for agreeing to this interview, Rachael. I wish you continued success with Spark and Stray and lots of luck with your future writing. I also look forward to reading Shield when it's published. 

Write a comment

Comments: 4
  • #1

    Rebecca C (Friday, 18 September 2015 10:26)

    I think it's wonderful that Rachael has cultivated such a great on-line relationship with her readers. More of us writers need to be doing that. And I am in awe of 'pantsers' because I just can't work that way. I have to outline everything. Thanks for part 2 of a great interview, ladies!

  • #2

    Julie Fulton (Friday, 18 September 2015 10:29)

    Another interesting set of questions with informative answers. Thanks Christina and Rachael!

  • #3

    Susanna Bavin (Friday, 18 September 2015 20:21)

    I loved part 2 of the interview even more than part 1. I sympathise with you, Rachael, for being a pantster learning to plot - I know what that is like. I was interested, too, to read about your path to publication. You obviously had a professional attitude right from the start - congratulations. Great interview, Christina - I loved all those quick-fire questions at the end.

  • #4

    Christina Banach (Saturday, 19 September 2015 08:09)

    Thank you, so glad that you enjoyed it. Rachael was great to interview. C x

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