'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 26 June 2014

Blog Tour: Rachael Craw - Why YA?

Kids' Book Review is delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Spark, the debut novel for author Rachael Craw. Spark, published by Walker Books, is the first book in a fantastic new sci-fi trilogy. Links to other stops on the blog tour are included below. Here, Rachael explains why she writes YA.

One of the first things my agents asked me when I submitted my manuscript to them was, Why YA? I hadn’t really thought about it, I just always knew that if I wrote it would be for teens and that my protagonist would be a seventeen year old girl.

I’m not sure if that is an indication that I’ve never properly grown up or that perhaps significant trauma in my formative development stunted my emotional growth keeping me at the psychological age of a pre-adult (and now that I think about it there was a bit of trauma … first heartbreak!) or if it’s symptomatic of teaching for a decade in girls’ high schools. Or, contrary to current scathing commentary against YA and its readers, perhaps this is an entirely legitimate literary platform with stories and characters from diverse genres, valuable regardless of demographic and not just a practicing ground for readers ill-equipped to cope with ‘proper grown-up’ books?

Actually, I’m not that wound up. But the way people have been banging on about YA lately has rather set my eyeballs rolling. Some people just don’t like fun.

For better or worse, I’m a YA writer. Will I only ever write YA? No idea. Do I read ‘proper grown-up’ books? Yes. But don’t make me pick a side. Don’t make me chose. I want Patrick Ness, Rainbow Rowell, Elizabeth Knox and Samantha Shannon just as much as I want Margaret Atwood, Kate Atkinson, Isabelle Allende and Ian McEwan.

I’m a Classical Studies major. I love myth and legend, heroes and gods, oracles, destinies and ridiculous callings. I’m an English teacher. I love tragic princes paralysed by inaction, children turning savage on islands, star-crossed lovers coming to bitter ends, ghosts wandering desolate moors to tap at the windows. I’m a fan of popular culture, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (in fact ANYTHING with Joss Whedon’s name on it), comic books made into movies, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, I’ve even been watching The 100.

I love the hero’s journey. I don’t care if it’s been ‘done’. I want to see her called and chosen, trained and challenged, I want to see her face down those threshold guardians, overcome the shape-shifter, trick the trickster, reach the inner sanctum, test her mettle, be defeated, die and rise again and come home different in landscapes that are real, fantastic, or otherwise. I don’t mind. Just give me rich characterisation, sharp dialogue, atmospheric description, high emotional stakes and a road to follow.

YA fiction is a wonderful place to find these heroes. Adolescence is the cusp of life and possibility, an age still ripe with wonder, hope and curiosity as much as it is rife with angst, insecurity  and self-doubt – things that even proper grown-ups sometimes wrestle. For now, I’m here, in the YA shelves. Evie is my hero, Spark is the beginning of her story and I’m loving the journey.

Born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand, Rachael Craw's experience as a high-school English teacher has given her a natural inclination for young adult literature. Spark: Death by Design, published by Walker Books Australia, is her debut novel and the first book in a sci-fi triology. Visit Rachael's website and Facebook page for the latest updates on her writing and other news.