Series: Spark, #2
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
Genres: YA, Science Fiction, Romance
Source: Received in exchange for review
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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.
Heeeeeeello people of the book nerd community! Thanks to the awesome people at Walker Books Aus, I am apart of the Stray blog tour! I have an exciting guest post for you guys by Rachael Craw and you know what’s awesome? SHE LOVES ANNE FROM ANNE OF GREEN GABLES TOO. Well… who doesn’t, really?
Influence and Inspiration: A nod to my (fictional) heroes
by Rachael Craw
When I look back at the novels that impacted me in childhood it’s not hard to see how these works influenced and inspired my writing today. I mention in a blog post I did for Gina at Behind the Pages how I was obsessed with a junior fiction/MG series about a rural American girl detective called Trixie Belden. Also the work of LM Montgomery, particularly the Anne of Green Gables series, burrowed deep into my subconscious. There were others, but Trixie and Anne were my fictional heroes.
I was an outspoken child. My mouth frequently got me into trouble – especially with older kids – because I had a low tolerance for injustice and zero tolerance for bullies. Part of this came from being the sibling of a brother who struggled in school and was mercilessly harassed by his peers. There was nothing that pushed my buttons more than seeing someone pick on him. I don’t know how many times I was chased through playgrounds, or down the street on my bike by a mob of angry older boys after I laid out a mouthful of retaliatory insults.
Willingness to confront injustice, stand up to authority and express their opinions forcefully were qualities I loved in Anne and Trixie. It made me feel less like of an oddity. Outspokenness isn’t a trait celebrated in children and certainly not in women but I think it’s the quality of courage behind this trait that so appeals. Anne and Trixie weren’t simply talkers, they were thinkers and doers – women of action.
In developing my own protagonist I wanted to give her some of these traits. Though Evie abhors unwanted attention she can’t stomach injustice – In Spark she refuses to be intimidated by high school creep, Richard Dean, she stands up to him when he’s cruel to Aiden and doesn’t hesitate to exact some retribution when he threatens Kitty. In Stray her courage isn’t displayed in words but in action. She thinks and plans and acts in defiance of Affinity Project protocol, knowing it will cost her dearly but willing to pay the price for what she believes in.
There are some other little details from these influential childhood books that find a wee nod in the pages of my own work. Firstly, the setting. When I decided the Affinity Project felt like an American idea (it definitely felt like it in the dream that inspired the story, like something out of a comic book) I immediately imagined Evie’s story into a North Eastern United States context. New Hampshire is midway between (fictional) Sleepyside on the Hudson New York (Trixie) and the Canadian Province of Prince Edward Island (Anne). Evie spends quite a bit of time belting through thick forests and leaping rivers, landscapes I idealised from those books.
Friendship and loyalty is another major focus in these stories. Anne’s bosom friend and soul sister is Diana Barry and Trixie’s is Honey Wheeler. Both best friends in these cases come from families more well-to-do than the protagonist’s. Evie’s best friend is Kitty Gallagher and her family is fairly loaded. All of these relationships rise above the gap in income. An outright nod to Trixie Belden in my book is Kitty’s honey blonde hair. Trixie’s best friend is named Honey on account of the colour of her hair, though Honey Wheeler is a far more meek and mild character than sassy say-it-like-it-is Kitty. Trixie also fancies Honey’s older brother Jim and we all know how Evie feels about Kitty’s brother Jamie (somebody cue the smelling salts).
Obviously, Spark and Stray are stories for older readers and with subject matter far darker than what you might find in a Trixie Belden mystery or an LM Montgomery story but it was a joy for me to let their influence seep into my work. Other direct nods in the Spark Trilogy go to my favourite directors Tim Burton, Joss Whedon and Peter Jackson. Spark is set in the fictional town of Burton, New Hampshire. Stray takes you to a fictional location in Virginia Beach, called Joss Hill. Keep an eye out in Shield where Evie attends a party in Jackson Heights. What can I say? I couldn’t help myself.
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