Rachael Craw, was an English teacher before she had kids, then she was “hijacked” by writing, and Spark was her first novel. Her book was published by Walker Books Australia. Stray (book 2) is set for release in September 2016. She was born and raised in Christchurch and now lives in Nelson. She moved when the earthquake destroyed her neighbourhood. She went to Burnside High School. She was greatly inspired by her English teacher Ms McColl. Mrs McColl took her creative writing class to the Writer’s Festival in Dunedin (Rachael’s first ever!) where she sat listening to the poetry of David Eggleton.
10 years ago, did you want to become a writer?
I think I’ve wanted to be a writer my whole life but the idea of getting published seemed far beyond the reach of possibility. So I never attempted to do anything professionally which strikes me now as a very great shame. Imagine how much more experience I would have by now if I had been brave enough to start twenty years ago. Unfortunately I feared I lacked the discipline to attempt writing a book. I thought I was too lazy, too impatient, that I lacked the inner fortitude to follow through and I hated the idea of starting and giving up. All these silly fears kept me from trying. I completely underestimated the power of obsession. When the idea for Spark came to me, I was hooked and couldn’t let it go.
Throughout my whole life I have kept journals and still do. I enjoyed writing plays more than stories when I was a child and teen and was very attracted to dialogue and the spoken word. I also wrote a lot of embarrassing poetry about boys I fancied and boys who broke my heart.
Do you enjoy reading Sci-fi books?
I must confess I have read very little science fiction, though I loved studying William Gibson (famous sci-fi writer) at University. I have always felt like a bit of a fraud seeing Spark labelled as sci-fi because when I think of the genre I naturally think of things like Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, space, aliens, futuristic technology. Spark is much more of a contemporary drama set in the here and now, a coming of age story that just happens to have the slightly far-fetched premise of genetically engineered DNA.
Here’s a glimpse of my reading habits:
My favourite genre is Magical Realism.
My favourite authors are Margaret Atwood and Kate Atkinson.
I am a huge fan of YA and greatly admire the work of Patrick Ness and Maggie Stiefvater.
Currently, I’m on a fantasy bender.
Did you have other ideas of where Spark would go or did you always know?
The idea came from a dream. The dream became the prologue of the book. The feeling in the dream of running at speed with crazy awesome reflexes, strength and heightened senses “felt” like radio-active spider bite material. I suppose I could have attributed Evie’s abilities to magic but it was more like a comic-book superhero vibe. I knew I wanted to write YA, that I wanted a kick-ass female protagonist but the world of the Affinity Project was a process of discovery, letting my brain have fun coming up with the how and why behind her abilities.
3 things I wanted to explore in Spark:
Freewill. How much of whom we are is a result of our choices and how much is predetermined by what is in our DNA?
The hero archetype. I wanted to play with the ‘chosen-one’ role in story-telling (it’s become very unpopular these days)
A 3-stranded love story exploring the love between a parent figure and child, between friends, and romantic love.
CONFESSION: I’m not much of a plotter. I have a basic idea of where I want to go and feel my way towards the end.
What age did you start devouring books?
I was a very keen reader. I’m not sure how old I was but I can remember devouring Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Books, Roald Dahl and the Narnia books. In fact, I can remember attempting to read The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe at an age where most of the words were fairly incomprehensible to me but I was determined and ploughed on despite the holes in my understanding.
Have you always had a love of words?
YES! Words are my great love. Shape, sound and texture. I’m a bit obsessed with finding the right word.
What did you think you were going to be when you were at intermediate?
A few characters in Spark have DNA that gives them superhuman powers. If you could have a superpower, what would you choose?
Telekinesis (moving things with the power of your mind).
What subjects did you take at High School?
English, Drama, Classical Studies, Creative Writing, Photography and Art History
How long did it take you to get published?
From idea to publication it took 5.5years. I had to learn to write along the way. I looked for great, trustworthy criticism to help hone my craft. I had my manuscript professionally assessed several times and a year of mentoring. I still have lots to learn.
What books inspired you as a child?
I loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Narnia books, Anne of Green Gables and all of LM Montgomery’s work. I was a huge fan of girl detective Trixie Beldon and chewed through her endless mystery adventures.
The Interviewer: My name is Tessa. I am 12. I love dogs, reading books and discussing new books with my mum. I have never read a sci-fi before Spark but it is my favourite book, of all time. I have grown up in Christchurch and travelled a bit through NZ.
Rachaek’s web site