Sunday, September 6, 2015

'Stray' by Rachael Craw - Blog Tour & Author Interview!!! (Yeooowwwww!!)

So ya'll know that I'm a big fan of 'Spark', debut novel of kiwi writer Rachael Craw (reviewed here - MAD PROPS to Miriam of Create Hope Inspire for recommending this series!).  Well I have the total honour of joining the blog tour launch the sequel title, 'Stray', and I'm pleased as punch.

"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.

As far as sequels go, 'Stray' is at the top of the pile.  It expanded the world of 'Spark' beautifully, with heightened tension, a ton of character development, and some truly lovely writing.  The humour got me, and I read most of the book while sitting at the hosp. bed of a loved one, so I needed a bit of that.  The book itself was a bit of a lifeline, actually.  #grateful.

'Stray' starts in on the action asap - you'll find yourself hooked from the opening pages and then you'll read a teeny few pages more and then you'll look up and it's 10pm and you've forgotten to feed and bathe your children.

I loved getting to know the characters better, and especially enjoyed the dynamic between Evie and Kitty, which has markedly changed since book one (in the BEST way).  Evie and Jamie have some really tender moments too, as well as some pretty painful ones.  In fact there are a few gut-punches in 'Stray', character-wise, but I'll have to leave ya'll to find those out for yo'selves.

Okay, that's a pretty short review but I really don't want to spoil ANY of it!  'Spark' and 'Stray' are such FUN YA/Sci-fi/Mystery/Thriller/Romance crossovers!  I just want you to hurry out and read them both asap, and THEN we can talk about what happens at the end of book two.  Trust me, you'll need to talk about it with someone...

I was pretty excited to ask Rachael all my burning questions, but then of course I totally blanked and couldn't think of much beyond 'what t.v. shows do you watch?'  Yar, I'm totes awesome.  Go on, TRUST me with your interviewee!  Gracious Rachael went ahead and answered them anyway, which only made me like her more :-D

(I've peppered her interview with some top quality cartooning *wink* - I'm ready to quit my day job, everybody!) 

Hi Rachael!  I'm so psyched to have you here at The Golden Adventures!  'Spark' fans are in for such a treat with 'Stray' (I know that my 15 year old niece is going to FLIP OUT!), what a perfect sequel! 

Thank you so much! I’m thrilled you enjoyed it and delighted to be visiting your blog! Look I’ve already started on the exclamation marks!!!

I never felt like you took the obvious plot route in either 'Spark' or 'Stray'. This was super exciting as a reader, there was no way I would've guessed where things were gonna end up, in either book.  Did this come down to meticulous planning, or did you find yourself surprised along the way, too? 

I am a pantser by nature while doing my best to learn to plot (I’m not very good at it) it’s more like external processing – I don’t know if I want to go a certain way until I write it. It’s long winded and painful but currently that is my way of doing things. It may change. However, yes, I was constantly surprised by things happening, characters suddenly doing or saying things I hadn’t expected, characters appearing out of nowhere – the whole bit. I wrote the very first draft of Stray in the same year I wrote the first draft of Spark so it sat there for nearly 6 years before it got it’s re-write. I found it immensely challenging and constraining and many times wanted to can it and start fresh but I was too chicken and bound to a very firm deadline. However, I fought my way through it and I’m pleased and proud of the outcome.

How long did this series sit in your head before you started writing? 

Not long at all. I woke up from a dream and started working on it that day but getting it to a readable standard to a loooong time as I had to learn how to write. I am still learning.

Which is your favourite step in the 'from-idea-to-published-text' process?

Hmmm, such a good question and I would struggle to choose. There is something incredibly thrilling about first draft writing, the unknown, the rush of something appearing on the page that you didn’t expect. I find it very addictive. However, I deeply love the crafting process, my obsessive personality gets to wallow in a sentence and agonise over making it perfect. I crave perfection, I’m parched for it. I never reach it but it is a deeply driving motivation. A gorgeous sentence releases some kind of chemical joy in my brain. Word lust or something.

Do you ever find Evie (or any of the other characters) strongly reflecting aspects of yourself, or do they feel quite separate from you?

I feel intimately bound to all of my characters. Sometimes I feel like they are all me but in fragments. Miriam is probably my closest reflection, except for my total lack of ninja moves and being a complete wuss. I have Kitty’s temperament and sense of humour, Evie has my pride – my loathing for being made a spectacle of and the echo of my teen-angst. Though, I wasn’t as together as Evie at 17. She knows her own mind. I love that about her.

If you were casting director for a film adaptation of 'Stray', who would you cast as the main players?

Evie and Jamie are up for grabs – I feel like they would need to be up and comers. I would love Jamie to be properly English. Miriam I have always fantasized as being played by Jennifer Connelly. I adore her. In Stray there is a character named Ethan Tesla and I picture him as someone with the look of Eric Bana or Henry Cavill. I did a post for Jeann at Happy Indulgence with character profiles for the main characters and fan-casting/photos to show the look.

I don't get the feeling Evie is really the telly watching type, but if she had a favourite TV guilty pleasure, what would it be?

Ha! Poor Evie, not much time for telly. If she did, I think she would watch the Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad. You know, stuff with happy endings. ;-)

And finally, what are your TV/book/music guilty pleasures?

I don’t have guilty pleasures, mostly because I am utterly shameless. I super LOVED The 100! I can’t wait for that to come back on! I ship Bellarke hard! (Clarke & Bellamy). Most people know I am a ginormous Buffy the Vampire Slayer fangirl. This year I have just started watching Supernatural. HOLY MOLY, I am beside myself addicted to that show. I cannot even believe what I have been missing out on!!! I am so profoundly in love with Dean Winchester I don’t even know what to do with myself … and Castiel. I cannot take how much I love Cass. I binge watch on Netflix at least 2 episodes a night before I fall asleep. I watch it in the dark on my laptop with my earphones in and I drive my husband mental by laughing so hard I wake him up. They do the BEST ever meta-stories where they go into parallel dimensions where they find themselves as actors in a show called Supernatural, or stuck in a sitcom, or stuck at a Supernatural convention where everybody is dressed like them and larping a hunt (Live Action Role Play). It kills me. I love it so much I just downloaded ‘Carry On My Waywards Son’ as my text alert and my ringtone is Sam and Dean yelling things like, ‘Answer the freaking phone’. I’m up to season 7 and season 11 was just released in the states! So much to look forward to.

In terms of books I have been trying to broaden my reading in YA fantasy and I am excited for Sarah J Maas next book, Queen of Shadows. Currently I am reading Garth Nix’s Lirael and really enjoying it.

Awwww, thanks Rachael!  And thank you so much for the opportunity to be part of this tour!  Can't WAIT for 'Sheild'!  Check out the other interviews and guest posts below x

Stray Blog Tour

September 1
September 2
September 3
September 4
September 5
September 6
September 7


  1. This was such a fun post, Stella. You are hilarious. I love the pics and cartoons!! Amazing :-D

  2. Great review! Love the shout out too, so glad you enjoyed it and you are the finale for the the tour. Standing ovation to you both xx

  3. Just ONE THING???!!! WHERE DO WE GET IT???!!! And when. I cannot WAIT.