Author on the Grill: Rachael Craw

Spark is a new young adult series with a science fiction twist. An intense forbidden romance and a seemingly average girl with an incredible secret. Set to be released on July the first, click HERE to read the prologue and first chapter of Spark. Thanks to Walker Books Australia, I was able to interview the sassy, sarcastic and superbly awesome Rachael Craw with only days until her first novel is released.

Spark is a new and unique spin on the well loved roles in young adult. How did the concept for the series come about?


I had a dream I was running through a forest at night, incredible speed, crazy reflexes, stamina and strength. Then I was gripped by a terrible urgency and I knew there was a girl out there in the dark being hunted by somebody bent on killing her. I knew if I didn’t get there first that she would die and it was my responsibility to save her. When I woke I knew I had the seed of a story (the seed I had prayed for just before going to sleep! What the?). I immediately began to ask questions: why was I so fast, strong etc? How did I know the girl was in danger? Why did someone want to kill her? Why was it my responsibility to keep her safe? It didn’t feel like magic, it felt like being a bit of a superhero, like radio-active spider bite material, or the result of chemical-X. That dream became the prologue of Spark.
I really enjoyed Evie's character. She was a mix of sass and an incredible amount of maturity for a girl with another life in her hands. What was the inspiration behind her character?


Even though I wanted this somewhat comic-book premise for the story I also wanted my protagonist and the world of Spark to be grounded in the here and now. Evie is pretty normal, down to earth, caring and kind but she’s also self-conscious, self-doubting, justifiably angsty (given her circumstances) and simply trying to survive her life, her lot. I’m not sure about inspiration… I deliberately gave her my hair and skin, purely because I could. I hated growing up with no characters that looked like me on TV, in movies or books. The closest I had was Snow White but she just did housework, fell into a coma then married the first guy who kissed her. I worshipped Wonder Woman but even she had a tan. There might be some of me in Evie in terms of sarcasm and the way she reacts to circumstances (though I relate more to Miriam) but I’m easy going, cheerful, optimistic. Plus, Evie’s tougher, braver and more determined than I am. I could never be a Shield. I’m against physical discomfort in all its forms and if someone punched me, I’d probably bawl
I loved how the characters communicated with one another, naturally. Were you mindful to create realistic characters who were able to interact with one another with ease, that readers could relate to their relationships?


Dialogue! I love dialogue! It’s probably my favourite tool for communicating character. I work hard to create an authentic voice. As a reader, dialogue is something I pay close attention to. It’s one of the main things that enables me to buy into the world of the story or it will disengage and alienate me. So I care a lot about making it work.
The romance between the two main characters is intense, reminding me of the relationship depicted in the Vampire Academy series. How would you sum up their relationship and why do readers enjoy the forbidden romance aspect?


There were a couple of things I wanted to poke at in Evie and Jamie’s relationship, one is a fairly standard trope of the unattainable hot-guy in the school that all the girls love (something I remember vividly from my own high school experience) and then what happens when your ‘Everygirl’ actually snags him and a bit of the old ‘star-crossed’ lovers routine. That’s at the most surface level, just for kicks. Then I wanted a love story with more depth and a complicated history. A then and now contrast. From childhood crush to genuine first love. Both characters have grown and changed from when they were 14 / 15, both have expectations and assumptions about the other that they need to sort through before discovering the real person. Adding the complication of the Affinity Project raises the stakes for loss and disappointment, but it also creates questions about the authenticity of their feelings. Is love still legitimate if it was designed in a Petri dish? Having some background knowledge of their pre-Spark attraction allows us to hope that what they feel isn’t just hopped up DNA but it’s not a guarantee. Somehow they will have to figure that out.

Forbidden love is button pusher, it rubs our sense of justice the wrong way to see people denied what they want, or deserve. As readers we yearn for a solution, a loophole, a god-out-of-the-machine to make it right. In Spark, the Affinity Project’s strict protocol surrounding ‘sanctioned affiliations’ is yet another affront to their loss of personal freedom and choice. It gives you a desperate feeling that needs to be relieved.
One of my favourite scenes is with Evie and Richard, and the 'accident' that occurred in gym class. Richard is the ultimate jackass, why do we need characters like Richard in young adult?


There’s a bit of wish-fulfillment in seeing the protagonist of a story face down the Big Bad in the school grounds. Richard is particularly creepy with his predilection for taking advantage of inebriated girls. I like Richard mainly for contrast. If your problem is keeping your best friend alive and stopping a deranged killer from murdering her, how big of a deal is the school bully? Not much of one. I like Evie processing this. She is aware that in her non-genetically engineered life, Richard would have been intimidating. Villains big and small are necessary obstacles for our protagonists to overcome and they're fun to write.
On a personal note, how did you find the process of publishing your first book?


It’s like being in perpetual labour. Next time I would like the epidural. (However, I love my publisher with the love of a thousand fiery suns)
If you could Harvest the thoughts of anyone in particular, who would it be and why?


Technically KMH only allows you to experience a person’s physical memory, rather than straight mind reading. Whose mind would I want to read? No ones. Ever. Ack! It would be horrible knowing what people really thought. No good could come of it. However, I could see some benefits in parenting. ‘You said what happened at school today?’ KMH-replay.
and lastly, what can we expect from the next book in the series, Stray?


Evie goes in for orientation at the Affinity Project compound. She comes face to face with the power brokers behind the organisation and is put through grueling interrogation, training and tests where she is stretched to her limits physically, psychologically and emotionally. All of her relationships are put under tremendous strain and she is faced with the realities of her future as a Shield. I can’t explain the significance of the title without dropping spoilers. I shall say no more.


Rachael Craw studied Classical Studies and Drama at the University of Canterbury, but 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. Her debut novel, Spark, is the first in a series released with Walker Books Australia from 2014. Rachael was born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand, and currently lives in Nelson with her husband and three daughters.

Find Rachael via Website     Facebook     Twitter or Contact her 


Wednesday, June 25: The Tales Compendium
Thursday, June 26: Kids' Book Review and Happy Indulgence
Friday, June 27: Fictional Thoughts
Saturday, June 28: Inside My Worlds: R.L.Sharpe and Aussie Reviews
Sunday, June 29: Striking Keys and Thoughts by J
Monday, June 30: Books for a Delicate Eternity and Fiction in Fiction in Fiction
Tuesday, July 1: The Loony Teen Writer and Kkatie Reads


  1. great review I like the questions you posed to Rachael and I look forward to reading the novel

  2. I loved the scene between Evie and Richard and the accident too. Great interview, loved your questions.


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