Author Spotlight - Rachael Craw Q&A

We are so excited to have the fabulous New Zealand author, Rachael Craw, as our guest this month. She very graciously took time out from her busy writing schedule to answer a few questions for us.

Rachael is the author of the Spark Trilogy, Spark, Stray and Shield.

What are you reading at the moment (or, what's the last book you read)?

I recently finished Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor, which I had been saving for a jolly good wallow. I adore Taylor’s work, her rich imagery, world building and characterisation. I was not disappointed. It was completely exquisite and riveting. I read Fleur Ferris new YA thriller, Wreck afterwards – an adrenaline filled page-turner. I love Ferris’ urgent, action-packed style and I lapped it up. I am just about to read Kylie Scott’s first YA novel, Trust. I’m excited to crack into it.

There's a lot of love for the Spark series in both Australia and NZ, how does it feel to have your characters come to life in other people's imagination?

It’s a dream come true. I love hearing from a reader who has fallen in love with the characters and the world of the story. That kind of investment is priceless.

What has been the highlight of your publishing journey so far?

Gosh, this is tough question. There are so many aspects that never get old – like seeing your book in print for the first time. Hearing from a passionate fan. Going to writer’s festivals has been incredible. I’ve been able to come to Australia for several events that I would never have been able to attend otherwise. The Perth Writer’s Festival, Somerset Celebration of Literature, Reading Matters. Amazing.

Your new book has been announced and I know you're working on that at the moment - what can you tell us about it?

Black Water Cull is YA speculative fiction. It’s set on a mysterious island (I have been fantasizing about setting a novel on an island for few years and I am so in love with the moody/brooding/landscape). There is a dimensional rift through which slip creatures from another time and place causing havoc for the locals. There is a mystical herd of deer protected by an elite force of Rangers. There is an infamously dangerous 4 yearly cull to protect the fragile eco-system of Black Water Island and ruthless fortune hunters who risk everything to get their hands on Actaeon’s Bane a priceless compound only found in the bones of Black Water deer. The cull is really the backdrop to a very human drama. Cal West is a ranger and Meg Archer is a young hunter who returns to the island looking for closure on a childhood trauma that links their lives.

Now that you've had a complete series released, is the writing experience different this time?

No. I always find it hard. Never easy. But I love it. Even when I hate it, I love it. Hopefully, I’m a little more instinctual and have a more refined ear but it’s an ongoing learning curve. I always want to be better.

We are all about promoting both Australian and NZ authors. A lot of our readers don't have much experience with NZ YA - can you share some of your favourites with us?

My favourite NZ author is Elizabeth Knox. Her Dreamhunter/Dreamquake duet are so brilliant. Mortal Fire is wonderfully magical and beautifully written. Kate De Goldi is another kiwi author hero, I love The 10pm Question. Karen Healey writes amazing YA, When We Wake and When We Run are very clever furture/dystopia novels inspired by Sleeping Beauty. Bernard Beckett, Brian Faulkner are exceptional. One of my favourite Middle Grade authors is Sue Copsey who writes brilliant ghost stories for kids.

Sweet or savoury?

I have to have both. Kettle corn is the ultimate. That and salted caramel.

What advice do you have for young people who want to become writers?

Read a lot. Write a lot. Learn to receive criticism. When a trusted mentor points out the problems in your work it forces you to seek creative solutions which makes the work better. I wanted to be good more than I wanted to be published and I really wanted to be published. So, I determined to receive criticism because I desperately wanted to make my work better. I don’t regret a single cut, change, edit. Also: never give up.

Why did you choose to write for a YA audience rather than adult spec-fic?

I really can’t imagine writing anything else. I’m not sure what it says about me but I just knew I would write YA. I love that on the cusp of life aspect to that age and stage of life.

Thank you so much to Rachael for taking the time to answer our questions! I'm sure we're all looking forward to reading Black Water Cull!

Rachael Craw can be found on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and on her website

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