Welcome to my stop on the Spark Blog Tour organized by Walker Books Australia. Spark is the first book in a new Sci-Fi trilogy which features gene modification, a kick-arse heroine, plenty of action and a dash of romance too. I thought Spark was a great addition to the YA Sci-Fi scene and I’m delighted to share my interview with the author, Rachael Craw, below.
Q&A with Rachael Craw
I read that the idea for Spark first came to you in a dream. Prior to getting the idea for Spark, was writing a novel something you had wanted to do?
When I was a child I would have said categorically yes, I wanted to write a novel. Even up until high school. I can remember telling my English teacher I wanted to write a novel by the time I was 21! (So I’m only 19 years late). But into my twenties and thirties life got pretty busy, being a ‘responsible’ grown-up training and becoming an English teacher, getting married, paying the mortgage, having babies and what not. I always kept journals, wrote poetry and played with scripts and screenplays but nothing ‘professional’ and I certainly never attempted to write for publication. But I think the urge to write was in my DNA. When my third daughter was born the ‘need’ to write began to boil up inside me. I was desperate to get started but I suppose some part of me always feared I lacked the discipline and general inner fortitude to follow through. I underestimated the power of obsession and compulsion, the power of an idea taking hold and not being able to shake it.
Many authors are categorized as being either plotters (having plotted their novels out in advance) or pantsers (writing by the seat of their pants). Would you consider yourself to be a plotter, a pantser or a little of both?
I had a very bare bones idea as scaffolding and the rest was pantsing, I think. So many of the twists and turns and subplots evolved in the process. I would like to be a better plotter. I think plotting is a better way to go.
Are there any similarities between you and Evie?
I gave her my hair and skin purely because I could. I’ve mentioned a few times in interviews that this was backlash against a deplorable lack of fair skinned, raven haired heroines in fiction, television or movies during my childhood and don’t talk to me about Snow White. Housework, comas and marrying the first bloke who kisses her didn’t inspire me much. I was all about Wonder Woman, but even she had a tan. In terms of temperament, Evie doesn’t share my sunny disposition. I’m an optimist, generally cheerful, I laugh a lot, loudly. She probably has my sense of irony and a similar way of cutting off emotion to handle a crisis but it’s Miriam I relate to most. (Kitty definitely has my sense of humour).
Spark contains many characters that have had their DNA genetically altered by a synthetic gene. Is genetics something you have always had an interest in? Did the sciencey stuff require a lot of research?
I don’t know that I could claim I’ve always had an interest in genetics. Definitely having my kids has been fascinating to discover likenesses in physical resemblances, temperament, talents, personality and being able to see my husband and me in these details. And when I first made contact with my birth mother I had that jarring moment of seeing the power of DNA at work. Aside from looking so much like her it blew my mind that I could be so like someone in personality, mannerisms and talents with someone I’d never spent any time with. It stirred up some spooky contemplation about how much of who we are and who become is already ingrained in our DNA.
I spent a fair amount of time Googling DNA and the sciencey stuff like physics, brainwaves, memory and what not but I pretty much dived in made things up.
Being a proud New Zealand author, would you ever consider writing a novel set in your homeland?
Absolutely! It was really only the scope of the Affinity Project that made Spark feel like an American story.
What are some of your favourite books?
Obvious English teachery books like: Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Lord of the Flies, Handmaid’s Tale, Human Croquet.
Personal Reading: The Lord of the Rings, Isabelle Allende’s The Island Beneath the Sea, The Night Circus, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake Trilogy, Atonement, Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life.
Spark is a young adult novel. Are there any YA novels you want to recommend?
Kate Atkinson’s Human Croquet is one of my absolute favs! Patrick Ness, Chaos Walking; Elizabeth Knox, Mortal Fire; Kate de Goldi’s 10pm Question; Samantha Shannon, The Bone Season; Rainbow Rowell, Eleanor & Park. Harry Potter (of course)
What sorts of things do you enjoy aside from writing?
I’m not sure if I remember … I used to watch television and have a social life … okay, so it’s not that bad. Usual things: books and movies! Love Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones.
Spark is the first book in a trilogy – would you be able to tell us a little of what readers are to expect from Stray (book #2) and Shield (book #3)?
In Stray, Evie goes in for orientation at the Affinity Project compound and endures gruelling interrogation, training, testing that stretches her to the limits physically, psychologically and emotionally. All of her relationships come under tremendous strain. I can’t explain the significance of the title without giving things away so I will say no more. Book 3, Shield, deals more with the big issues of genetic predestination and confronting the injustices of the Affinity Project.
Do you have anything specific you would like to say to your readers?
Thank you for taking a punt on a new kid on the writing block. I hope Evie, Jamie, Kitty and the characters from Spark find a place in your heart. Xxx
I always find it exciting when authors I like enjoy reading the same books as I do. The Bone Seasons, Eleanor & Park and Harry Potter were all amazing!
Thank you Rachael for answering my questions. To everyone out there – Rachael is lovely. I’ve chatted with her on twitter a few times and she’s incredibly funny and really nice so don’t be afraid to let her know what you thought about Spark.
Click here to read my review for Spark
And if you’re interested in Spark, be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour! 🙂
Tuesday, June 24 Diva Booknerd
Wednesday, June 25 The Tales Compendium
Thursday, June 26 Kids’ Book Review & Happy Indulgence
Friday, June 27 Fictional Thoughts
Saturday, June 28 Inside My Worlds: R.L.Sharpe & Aussie Reviews
Sunday, June 29 Striking Keys & Thoughts by J
Monday, June 30 Books for a Delicate Eternity & Fiction in Fiction in Fiction
Tuesday, July 1 The Loony Teen Writer & Kkatie Reads
@RachaelCraw | RachaelCraw.com
Spark on 1st July 2014
Evie doesn’t have a choice.
One day she’s an ordinary seventeen year old, grieving for her mother. The next, she’s a Shield, the result of a decades-old experiment gone wrong, bound by DNA to defend her best friend from an unknown killer.
The threat could come at home, at school, anywhere. All Evie knows is that it will be a fight to the death.
And then there’s Jamie. irresistible. off-limits
I got Spark recently for review and I can’t wait to read it! It’s great to see what Rachael has to say about her book, and after reading this I’m even more motivated and excited to get started 🙂
Yay, what a great questionnaire! Interesting to see all the similar and totally different questions people ask (and comparing them to the questions I asked Rachael, haha). Would love to see one based in New Zealand 🙂