Welcome to Fabulous Fiction, a blog by Stella Quinn which celebrates books so good, you just want to hug them when you’re done reading.
Alissa Callen’s novels are warm-hearted and touching. She writes down-to-earth rural communities filled with appealing, genuine characters. Snowy Mountains Daughter is the first book set in the high-country town of Bundilla.
STELLA: Tell us a little about your book, Alissa
Snowy Mountains Daughter is the first story of my new series set in a tiny book town.
The road home isn’t for the faint-hearted …
Peony flower farmer Clancy Parker was born and bred in the Australian high country. Small-town Bundilla is the only place she will ever truly belong, even if staying means remaining alone. The man she’d loved is long gone and single men are as rare as a summer snowfall.
As soon as he could, street artist Heath MacBride escaped his complicated family and traded mountain peaks for city concrete. Now a commission to paint a mural on Bundilla’s water tower brings him home. It doesn’t matter how long he’s been away, the animosity of his cattleman father hasn’t waned. As soon as the water tower is painted, he will be gone.
But between steadfast Clancy, who’d once been his muse, a free-spirited kelpie who becomes his shadow and a corrosive family secret, his best laid plans disintegrate. When life again backs him into a corner, will he have no choice but to leave or will he and Clancy have the second chance they’d each thought would forever remain out of reach?
STELLA: Why will readers find this book “hugworthy?”
Alissa: I hope Clancy and Heath’s story will resonate with readers as at its core are the central themes of home, belonging and finding the courage to face the past. Despite everything the hero and heroine and even the rural community go through, the story closes with a sense of hope and of peace.
Stella: I agree! I was lucky enough to read an ARC copy of Snowy Mountains Daughter, and I can add to Alissa’s hugworthy reasons … the descriptions of the countryside! Look out for the up-country scene out on camp. Reading those words, I could have closed my eyes and smelled the dried wood crackling on the campfire, scratched the ruff of Bundy the kelpie, and fed him a sausage of his own.
STELLA: Okay, now let’s get to know the author behind the book!
USA Today bestselling author Alissa Callen is a country girl happiest living far from the city fringe. She draws inspiration from the rural world around her and from the resilience of local bush communities. Her books are characteristically heart-warming, authentic and character driven. Alissa lives with her family on a small slice of rural Australia outside Dubbo in central western NSW.
STELLA: Do you have a favourite genre to read? To write?
Alissa: My pre-deadline favourite genre to read was regency (Bridgeton anyone?). As for my favourite genre to write in, I don’t really have one. Thanks to living on a farm whatever book I write a rural thread always seems to weave its way in (much like how our kelpie sneaks inside to wake up my teenagers).
Stella: Our cavalier x shit-zhu x border terrier has his own special method of waking us, too. Usually it’s his well-chewed red monster getting plopped onto our faces as we sleep.
STELLA: Do you have “must haves” in a book for you to love it? And do you have “dealbreakers”, things that make you throw a book across the room?
Alissa: My two must haves are a self-sufficient heroine and an honourable hero. And in terms of deal breakers it is the flip side of the coin – feeble heroines and narcissistic heroes will be a DNF.
Stella: Oh yeah, totally agree. And heroines can show strength in different ways, even when they live in societies where women are living under oppression, or they’re from a generation where “the norm” was to submit to the opinions of anyone with a Y chromosome. Heath’s parents in Snowy Mountains Daughter are a nuanced pair, reflective of an older generation of Australians.
STELLA: Has a comment in a review from a reader ever stayed with you?
Alissa: I appreciate every reader message and comment but the ones that remind me of the power of words, and the value of storytelling, are the ones where my books may have been the first one someone has read cover to cover, or they have reignited someone’s love of reading.
Stella: I envy you having received such heartfelt responses to your fiction. Stories can be such a comfort, can’t they?
STELLA: How busy does writing life make you?
Alissa: If anyone has the secret to keeping all writing and life balls in the air, I’d love to know what it is. Every year I say I’m not going to be a feast or famine writer (i.e., write a lot or very little). But unfortunately this year writing has again had to take a back seat to real life, but as my deadline approaches finishing my current book is now front and centre.
Stella: The other ball in the air for me is reading. It’s hard to cram it all in!
STELLA: Okay, now for the nitty-gritty, Alissa:
Favourite Australian holiday destination? Snowy Mountains in winter.
Guilty pleasure? Chocolate and more chocolate.
Pet peeve? We have an electric farm gate and after driving down the driveway discovering someone has taken the controller from out of my car.
Favourite fictional couple and why? Frederick Wentworth and Anne Elliot from Persuasion. In the movie Rupert Penry-Jones plays Captain Wentworth. Enough said.
Best thing about being a writer? When the perfect sentence somehow appears.
Worst thing about being a writer? When not even an imperfect word will appear.
What themes do you love to see shining through in a book? Hope, redemption, second chances.
Three fun facts about you:
– Read the ending of a book first.
– Write the ending of own book last.
– My great-grandmother created the name Rexona.
Keep in touch with Alissa:
– Website: www.alissacallen.com