Today we have Alissa Callen in the spotlight. Alissa’s latest book, The Long Paddock (MIRA), came out in February. Thanks, Alissa.
How many novels have you written and published and what prizes, if any, have they won?
In my first rural series, Outback Dust, I’ve written two novels – Beneath Outback Skies and Down Outback Roads. I then switched hemispheres to write a six eBook series about Montana ranches named after mountain wildflowers. The Long Paddock is then the first novel in my new Born in Boots series, with the second book, The Back Road, due to be released in February 2018. With a lovely group of authors I have been lucky enough to hit the USA Today bestseller list with a Christmas anthology.
Your forthcoming book – The Long Paddock
What special qualifications do you have for writing this book?
The Long Paddock is a story woven from the scents, sights and sounds of my everyday rural life in central western NSW. I grew up on a sheep farm and now live on a small farm so I write what I know. In my pre-writing life I was also a counsellor so I continue to be interested in the life journeys that people take. Rural mental health remains a local issue and one I wanted to touch upon in The Long Paddock. Droughts can parch more than the earth and bushfires can burn more than windmill grass.
What inspired the story?
The plot for The Long Paddock owes its genesis to a past summer when rain was scarce and I’d drive through mobs of cattle grazing on the roadside verges. Concern has grown over the management and future of the travelling stock routes and this was another local issue I wanted to explore. Yarn bombers had decorated the trees in Dubbo’s main street and the colours and textures soon found their way into my story. After attending the Coonamble Rodeo and Campdraft, not only did I then find myself with a bull-rider hero, but also a misunderstood bull who was determined to take centre stage.
Tell us about your plotting/drafting style
A title always comes first. For some reason I can’t seem to settle on a plot if I don’t have a title to pin the story on. I must confess I’m slightly addicted to Google so it doesn’t take much to send me off down a research rabbit hole while I’m gathering ideas. I’m then a hybrid-plotter. I plot in broad brush strokes before pantsering my way through filling in the finer details.
What is your all-time favourite book by an Australian woman writer?
The Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell.
Lamingtons or pavlova?
Pavlova with whipped cream, raspberries and fresh passionfruit.
Thanks, Alissa, and good luck with your book.
Synopsis: The Long Paddock
A captivating love story about community and second chances.
Country-girl Cressida Knight fills her days with her farm, a mischievous pet bull called Reggie and her volunteer emergency services work. The busier she keeps, the less she thinks about the cowboy who left her behind. She’s convinced the small-town Woodlea grapevine that she’s moved on, but now it’s time to move on for real.
Champion bull rider Denham Rigby shares Cressy’s deep love for the land and all he’s ever wanted was to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Cressy through life. But three years ago a dark family secret left him no choice but to run. Now family duty gives him no choice but to return to the bush.
What Denham hasn’t come home to do is to hurt Cressy by rekindling their relationship. He’s nothing but a liability and the beautiful, self-reliant cowgirl has to stay off limits. But when faced with Cressy’s desperation to save her drought-stricken farm, he can’t keep his distance. He joins her out droving on the long paddock. Then when Woodlea is hit by more than just rodeo fever, they are further thrown together and Denham loses the battle to lock down his emotions.
But has he left it too late to stop running? And will the woman he’s always loved be prepared to risk her heart for a second time?
About Alissa: USA Today bestselling author Alissa Callen is a country girl happiest living far from the city fringe. She draws inspiration from the countryside around her and from the resilience of local bush communities. Once a teacher and a counsellor, she remains interested in the life journeys that people take. Her books are characteristically heart-warming, authentic and character driven. Alissa lives with her family on a small slice of rural Australia in central western NSW.