Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Aussie Blog Tour: Stray by Rachael Craw + Guest Post + Bookmarks + Wallpapers

Stray (Spark #2)
Released: 1 September 2015
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Pre-Order: Amazon  |  Angus & Robertson  |  Booktopia  |  Bookworld  |  Fishpond
At The Other End:
It’s hard to remember hating anything as much as I hate Affinity; a bone-deep loathing for the faceless unknown and the concrete walls of my own DNA.

Evie is a Shield: designed to kill in order to protect, and the Affinity Project have finally come for her. But Evie isn’t ready for the sinister organisation to take control of her life, her body, her mind. She isn’t ready to follow their rules about who may live and who must die – not when it condemns the innocent. She has one option: risk losing everything and everyone – including Jamie – and run.

Read my 5 star reviews of Spark (Spark #1) and Stray (Spark #2)

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:
Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads

Everybody knows the sequel to a novel or movie is fraught with pressure. Can it live up to the standard of the first installment? Will it disappoint? Is it necessary? The film industry especially is peppered by the Scourge of the Stinky Sequel. Box office failings. Scathing reviews. Mercenary capitalisation of viewer interest at the expense of good writing. Here’s a list of a few.

Okay, plenty of those are awful but don’t forget sequel glory is also possible! Think of Aliens, Terminator 2 and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back! But when it comes to novels opinion is a little more divided. Check out this Goodreads Listopia on supposedly disappointing sequels.  I don’t know that I entirely agree with their list.

Let me tell you why I’m pro-sequel. 

I hate to say goodbye. I have difficulty letting go. I want to prolong my experience in the world of the story and with the characters I love for as long as possible. I think much of this comes from childhood reading habits. I LOVED and still love to read series. I was obsessed with Trixie Belden (rural American girl detective) and her friends in the Bob White gang, dungaree wearing do-gooders who solved mysteries and raised money for UNICEF. There were almost 40 books in that series and I just kept coming back for MORE. I was the same with LM Montgomery and the Anne of Green Gables books. Holy moly, I couldn’t get enough of that feisty red-head, her wild imagination and snappy come backs. 

In the same way, I couldn’t wait for Buffy and the gang to arrive on my television screen, Mulder and Scully, Sam and Dean, I want more, more, MORE of my favourite characters in good times, bad times, end of the world times, triumphing, failing, restored and overcoming again and again. Novel series let us come back to old friends. A one off movie may have powerful impact like a standalone novel, but a series is a relationship, an emotional investment for the long haul.

Naturally, when I came to writing Stray I wanted to make it a worthwhile return for the reader. I had intended for each of the stories in the Spark trilogy to have a specific focus that would foster Evie’s continued growth in her character arc. Facing a new challenge each time, Evie takes the reader on a journey deeper into the world of the Affinity Project as she faces her darkest fears. The relationships forged in Spark are tested in Stray with resulting consequences that Evie will have to live with for the rest of her life.

Spark is like a superhero origins story where Evie must come to terms with her new burden of responsibility, learn to master her abilities and overcome terrible odds. It is equally a three-strand love story that explores the love of parent/child, the bond of friendship and romantic first-love. I wanted to explore the issue of freewill and Evie’s sense of self in these relationships while she faces harrowing challenges.

The sequel begins Evie’s ultimate transition from the relative freedom of the outside/everyday world into the controlling/protocol strict world of the Affinity Project. Evie is confronted by the long-term realities of her DNA and the ruthlessness of the organisation controlling her destiny. She faces a terrible moral dilemma that puts her at odds with the people she loves and those she hates. There are new characters to complicate the landscape and a new physical environment to explore in the AP compound. The reader discovers with Evie the dark means by which the sinister organisation functions. Stray is all about choices and consequences – serious consequences.

It’s my sincere hope that Stray accomplishes the best possible outcomes of a sequel, by: 

  • Reuniting readers with characters they care about
  • Taking readers deeper into a believable world
  • Raising the stakes
  • Rewarding reader-investment with a crafted, entertaining and meaningful story
  • Leaving readers eager to return again

While I’ve strived after these aspirational goals, ‘success’ can be difficult to judge. What if I’ve fallen short? What if my reader’s expectations don’t match my intentions? What if their perception of the work doesn’t match my interpretation?  I’m afraid these things are beyond my control and like our dear Princess Elsa, I just have to let it go … 

~ Rachael

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