Interview by Nicole Melanson ~
Rachael Craw began her working life as an English Teacher after completing a degree in Classical Studies and Drama at the University of Canterbury. She dabbled in theatre and script writing for amateur productions and small independent film ventures. Her passion for dialogue and characterisation finally led to long-form writing with the award-winning Spark series about Evie, a seventeen-year-old genetically engineered human weapon. Rachael’s enthusiasm for classical heroes, Joss Whedon, teen angst and popular culture informs much of her creative process with a particular bias towards “complex and butt-kicking” female protagonists. When she’s not writing she enjoys teaching and small town life at the top of the South Island of New Zealand where she lives with her husband and three daughters.
Rachael loves to connect with her readers and the wider YA community and can be found trading memes and scintillating banter on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
I had a fascination with words from a very early age, particularly the sounds of words. I remember getting my first lockable diary and being thrilled by its potential and the need to fill the pages with something beautiful. I’ve kept journals my whole life – tedious stuff to read, no doubt – but a marvelous creative outlet. I was drawn to poetry and scriptwriting with a particular love for the spoken word which led to a passion for good dialogue. Dialogue is my natural habitat and what I love to write most.
I resisted the idea of long-form writing for many years believing I lacked time, training, patience and more importantly the determination to follow through. Oh, how I underestimated the power of obsession. Once the idea for my first book arrived in my head (a dream after a rather desperate prayer for inspiration) it spread like a hungry virus through my whole body. It led to a five-year journey of hard work, developing a sense of craft, receiving mentoring, acquiring an agent and finding a publisher before I first saw my work in print.
WHAT IS YOUR LATEST BOOK OR CURRENT PROJECT?
After completing the Spark trilogy in September this year, I started working on a completely new story. It’s exciting and daunting, falling in love with new characters and navigating new adventures. The story explores the modern consequences of an ancient curse in the lives of a young man and woman, marked and marred by the fallout. A high stakes hunt brings the two together on an inhospitable island where festering secrets prove more deadly than encounters with creatures from a dimensional rift.
WHAT IS YOUR WORK ENVIRONMENT LIKE?
I am very lucky to have a home office. It’s the sunniest room in the house with lovely big bookshelves and room for a large desk and comfy chairs for receiving guests. I pretty much live in my office with my little dog who is much like a cat, sleeping all day in the sun. When I am in the thick of deadline my desk can look rather chaotic.
WHEN DO YOU WORK? WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE?
If I’m not teaching, I write during school hours, which means I don’t do any housework, chores or errands during that time. So we live in a sort of happy squalor and suffer the supermarket together after school. That gap between 3-6pm is time for random household duties if I can be bothered, mostly it’s time for reading and hiding from the children. I count it a victory to have at least one functioning room in the house at any time. My laundry basket is always overflowing. My one vanity is a clean kitchen and otherwise the house goes to ruin. In the evenings I tend to re-read what I’ve worked on during the day, edit and fiddle with it until around 10pm then I go to bed with Netflix or a book or both.
WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PROCESS?
I fantasize about being a plotter and then I pants the living crap out of everything. I just write and write and rewrite and gnash my teeth and bang my head on my desk and cry into my Diet Coke until it makes sense.
WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?
WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
The Holy Spirit, music, dreams, random things my children say.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART OF WHAT YOU DO?
Having perspective. I have none. I live in perpetual yearning to be good at what I do. Yearning makes you look constipated.
WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU HAD KNOWN WHEN YOU STARTED?
That it is entirely possible to accomplish your dreams.
WHAT IS YOUR ARTISTIC OR PROFESSIONAL VISION?
To be good at what I do. Really, really good. In fact, I want to be good more than I want to be published and I REALLY want to be published. Ultimately, I dream of selling enough books so that I can live.
WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITE FEMALE AUTHORS?
Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Knox, Kate Atkinson, Maggie Stiefvater.
WHICH FEMALE AUTHORS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE INTERVIEWED ON WORDMOTHERS NEXT?
You’ve interviewed some of these lovelies already but I’ll give a shout-out to my Aussie squad: Gabrielle Tozer, Trinity Doyle, Ellie Marney, Fleur Ferris, Nicole Hayes and Rebecca James. These women keep me sane and I love them.
Thank you, Rachael Craw!
— Nicole Melanson
And thank you, Steph Cuthbert, Susan Whelan, Melissa Keil and Gabrielle Tozer, for recommending Rachael!
(Click to read interviews with Steph, Susan, Melissa or Gabrielle.)
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