By: Melanie | September 2, 2015 | (9) Comments

Blog Tour: StrayStray by Rachael Craw
Series: Spark, #2
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
Genres: YA, Science Fiction, Romance
Pages: 425
Source: Received in exchange for review
Goodreads | Purchase

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.

Follow the Rest of the Tour

September 1 Happy Indulgence | Diva Book Nerd

September 2 Behind the Pages | Cassie the Weird | YA Midnight Reads

September 3 Liz McShane Blog | Imaginary Misadventure

September 4 Fictional Thoughts | Genie in a Book

September 5 Kids Book Review | Books for a Delicate Eternity | Nicole Has Read

September 6 Loony Literate | Book Nerd Reviews

September 7 Striking Keys | Very Dark Horse

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About Rachael Craw

Rachael Craw: reader, dreamer, joker, singer, believer, writer and lover of words.

I grew up in Christchurch, New Zealand, studied Classical Studies and Drama, became an English teacher and dabbled in acting. I even auditioned for Shortland Street. Spark is my debut YA sci-fi/crossover novel, the first in a trilogy being published by Walker Books Australia.

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Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 16 year old student from Melbourne, Australia. She is normally found binge watching TV series, reading , blogging, procrastinating or fangirling about how Percabeth is the best ship ever. She's also a lover of caps lock and uses it excessively.

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9 Responses to Blog Tour: Stray

  1. Ooh, great post! I’ll admit, it’s been awhile since I read SPARK, but I do remember I adored it — and I adored Evie’s character SO MUCH. She was badass, but kind and loyal to and just AWESOME. Can’t wait to see Stray! 🙂
    Kara @ Diary of a Teen Writer recently posted…The Secret Life of a Book BloggerMy Profile

  2. Great post – interesting to see where the inspiration for Rachael’s characters come from, I love the strong women in Spark, especially Evie’s defiant, standing up for herself and what she believes in.
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…BookTube Video: August Wrap Up & September TBRMy Profile

  3. OMG TRIXIE BELDENNNNNNNNN, MY LOVE <3 <3 My mum got me onto those books. I think we have all of them. They're so great, ahhhh.
    Emily @ Loony Literate recently posted…One by Sarah Crossan // Conjoined Twins and Free VerseMy Profile

  4. Hannah says:

    Ha, I recently read Anne of Green Gables for the first time and adored it!

    And Stray looks super intriguing.
    Hannah recently posted…5 Practicalities Overlooked in YA DystopiaMy Profile

  5. I heard about this series from Jeann and I definitely want to check it out! The first two books sound amazing. I do love a MC who fights against injustice.

    Great posts, ladies!
    Danielle @ Love at First Page recently posted…Mini Reviews [17]: Romance ReportMy Profile

  6. Lexa Cain says:

    I really enjoyed reading Rachael’s guest post. I had a big mouth when I was a kid, too, and nothing makes me madder than injustice. Her book sounds great! Wishing her much success!
    Lexa Cain recently posted…Celebrate: Organization & Giveaways!My Profile

  7. Frank says:

    Been looking for this

  8. Amitythomas says:

    I really enjoyed reading Rachael’s guest post. I had a big mouth when I was a kid, too, and nothing makes me madder than injustice feeling lonely quotes about relationships

  9. Amitythomas says:

    I really enjoyed reading Rachael’s guest post. I had a big mouth when I was a kid, too, and nothing makes me madder than injustice I heart it this article and your efforts. dont waste time quote

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