Nine Naughty Questions with… Alissa Callen, author of Beneath Outback Skies.

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Alissa Callen

author of Beneath Outback Skies

Nine Naughty Questions

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1. I wonder, is a romance writer born or made? Please tell us a little about your life before publication.

A lifetime ago I was a counselor and saw firsthand life doesn’t always deliver a happy ending. So I was drawn to the romance genre where I could guarantee my characters would always receive a happily-ever-after. After a childhood spent chasing sheep on the family farm, it was natural my hyperactive imagination then played itself out against a bush backdrop. I now live on a small slice of rural Australia in central western NSW that provides constant inspiration, whether it is our river pumps failing (yet again), the grass fire that consumed our front paddock or simply the sight of my Little Farmer cuddling his dog on the back of the ute.

2. For all the glitz and the glam associated with the idea of romance novels, writing about and from the heart is personal and very revealing. Do you think this is why romance readers are such devoted fans? And do you ever feel exposed?

A romance novel, or any novel, is a work of fiction. But like any creative project a little piece of an artist or author will bleed onto the canvas or page. And it is this emotional intensity and authenticity that will engage an audience and transport them into another world. As the thoughts, feelings and actions of my characters are intrinsic to them, no matter how much my own emotions might leach into their fictional lives, I don’t feel exposed.

3. Please tell us about your latest novel…

Beneath Outback Skies is a novel featuring red dust, romance and secrets.

Paige Quinn will let nothing and no one distract her from caring for her wheelchair-bound father, Connor, and fighting for her remote, drought-stricken property, Banora Downs. Least of all a surprise farm-stay guest named Tait Cavanaugh, whose smooth words are as lethal as his movie-star smile.

Except Paige can’t help noticing that, for a city-boy, Tait seems unexpectedly at home on the land. And he does ask a lot of questions.
It doesn’t matter how much he helps out or how much laughter he brings into her life, she soon suspects he is harbouring a big secret – the real reason he has come to Banora Downs.

Grab a copy of Alissa’s novel Beneath Outback Skies here

4. Is the life of a published Romance writer… well… Romantic?

I’d love to say yes but reality will argue otherwise. I wave my husband off to work wearing boring pyjamas and with glazed over eyes as mentally plot my next scene. Hours spent on the computer also preclude intimate candle-lit dinners and at times even regular dinners. Grilled cheese sandwiches are my regular ‘go to’ food when lose track of time.

5. Of all of the Romantic moments in your life is there one moment, more dear than all the rest, against which you judge all the Romantic elements in your writing? If so can you tell us about that special moment?

One special and ‘I’m never doing that again’ moment was the day our first child was born. There is something about a baby that deepens any relationship and strengths the emotional connection between two people. Needless to say I went on to have three more children.

6. Sex in Romance writing today ranges from ‘I can’t believe they’re allowed to publish this stuff’ explicit to ‘turn the light back on I can see something’ mild. How important do you think sex is in a romance novel?

The heat level of a book, let alone the inclusion of a sex scene or scenes, depends on both the genre as well as an author’s voice. For some stories the romantic journey of the characters is shown solely as an emotional one, while for other books both the emotional and physical journey will be charted.

7. Romance writers are often Romance readers – please tell us your five favourite (read and re-read) romance novels or five novels that influenced your work most?

1. Pride and PrejudiceJane Austen

2. Persuasion – Jane Austen

3. Border Laird’s Bride – Allison Butler

4. The Rider of Lost Creek – Louis L’amour

5. The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne

8. Erotic Romance writing is ‘so hot right now’, do you have any thoughts on why?

The publishing landscape is always changing and it is so interesting to see what the next ‘hot’ thing will be. The advent of e-readers and tablets has added a new dimension of accessibility and anonymity that suits the erotic genre. No longer will print covers of erotic romance books raise eyebrows on the train or bus commute home.

9. Lastly, what advice do you give aspiring writers?

To read. Anything and everything. To also not lose sight of the magic that happens when you put fingers to the keyboard. Now, more than ever with social media, writing is a business and the joy of finding the perfect word or having your wayward plot ducks line up in a neat row can sometimes become stifled.

Thanks for joining us Alissa!


beneath-outback-skiesBeneath Outback Skies

by Alissa Callen

A captivating rural romance featuring an indomitable young woman determined to save her family farm, and the city-boy who is not all he seems...

Paige Quinn will let nothing and no one distract her from caring for her wheelchair-bound father, Connor, and fighting for her remote, drought-stricken property, Banora Downs. Least of all a surprise farm-stay guest named Tait Cavanaugh, whose smooth words are as lethal as his movie-star smile.

Except Paige can’t help noticing that, for a city-boy, Tait seems unexpectedly at home on the land. And he does ask a lot of questions…

It doesn’t matter how much he helps out or how much laughter he brings into her life, she soon suspects he is harbouring a big secret – the real reason he has come to Banora Downs…

Grab a copy of Beneath Outback Skies here

The Man of Letters – A Tribute to Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson, widely regarded as one of the most important figures in the English language, was born on this day in 1709. We’ve put together a few facts about the man described as “arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history.”

- Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1755, and remains arguably the most influential work in the English language. Pulitzer-prize winning writer Walter Jackson Bate believed the dictionary “easily ranks as one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship, and probably the greatest ever performed by one individual who laboured under anything like the disadvantages in a comparable length of time.”

- Despite being one of the most respected scholars of his time, Johnson lived much of his life in poverty, and on the 16th of March 1756 was arrested for an outstanding debt of £5 18s.

- Johnson believed in portraying biographical subjects accurately and including any negative aspects of their lives. Because of his insistence on accuracy in biography, Johnson had to struggle against a society that was unwilling to accept biographical details that could be viewed as tarnishing a reputation. He always believed biographies should not be limited to the most famous and that the lives of lesser individuals, too, were significant.

- When it came to Shakespeare’s plays, Johnson emphasised the role of the reader in understanding language: “If Shakespeare has difficulties above other writers, it is to be imputed to the nature of his work, which required the use of common colloquial language, and consequently admitted many phrases allusive, elliptical, and proverbial, such as we speak and hear every hour without observing them”.

- He was an opponent of slavery on moral grounds, and once proposed a toast to the “next rebellion of the negroes in the West Indies”

- Despite being known as “Dr. Johnson”, he despised the title and in his final years was often found drinking in taverns with working men who knew him only as ‘Sam’.

- Johnson hated the Scots, with Hester Thrale once observing: “We all know how well he loved to abuse the Scotch and indeed to be abused by them in return.”

- Despite being a man of letters, Johnson hated long novels, criticizing Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa despite praising much of the novel. Johnson believed only three novels written before his death could have been longer. Don Quixote, Robinson Crusoe, and The Pilgrim’s Progress.

- James Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson is often cited as the greatest biography ever written, much of its success attributed to Johnson’s encouragement of Boswell to write an honest account of him.

The Life of Samuel Johnson

by James Boswell

‘Johnson, to be sure, has a roughness in his manner; but no man alive has a more tender heart’

In Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson, one of the towering figures of English literature is revealed with unparalleled immediacy and originality, in a biography to which we owe our entire knowledge of the man himself. Through a series of wonderfully detailed anecdotes, Johnson emerges as a sociable figure, vigorously engaging and fencing with great contemporaries such as Garrick, Goldsmith, Burney and Burke, and of course with Boswell himself. Yet anxieties and obsessions also darkened Johnson’s private hours, and Boswell’s attentiveness to every facet of Johnson’s character makes this biography as moving as it is entertaining.

In this new and unabridged edition, David Womersley’s introduction examines the motives behind Boswell’s work, and the differences between the two men that drew them to each other. It also contains chronologies of Boswell and Johnson, appendices and comprehensive indexes, including autobiographical details

Grab a copy of The Life of Samuel Johnson here

Check out these brilliant book reviews from Booktopians

At the recent Australian Book Expo, we set up a camera and asked Booktopians to review their favourite book. The response was amazing, with so many wonderful book lovers keen to chat about their favourite reads. Here are some of the best. Enjoy!


Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour

by Morgan Matson

Click here for more details


Bitter Greens

by Kate Forsyth

Click here for more details


Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

by Haruki Murakami

Click here for more details


Daughter of Smoke and Bone

by Laini Taylor

Click here for more details


The Hunt for Pierre Jnr

by David M. Henley

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The Hunt for Pierre Jnr

by David M. Henley

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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

by Robert Louis Stevenson

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Every Breath

by Ellie Marney

Click here for more details


Fallen

by Lauren Kate

Click here for more details


Falling Into Place

by Amy Zhang

Click here for more details


If I Stay

by Gayle Forman

Click here for more details


If I Stay

by Gayle Forman

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Masquerade

by Kylie Fornasier

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On the Jellicoe Road

by Melina Marchetta

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Poison Study

by Maria V. Snyder

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Room

by Emma Donoghue

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City of Bones

by Cassandra Clare

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Skinjob

by Bruce McCabe

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The Incredible Here and Now

by Felicity Castanga

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The Last Thirteen

by James Phelan

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The Regulators

by Stephen King

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These Broken Stars

by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

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Three Men in a Boat

by Jerome K Jerome

Click here for more details


WeirDo 2: Even Weirder!

by Anh Do

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What Makes Us Tick?

by Hugh Mackay

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Women

by Charles Bukowski

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Have you won a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker? How about a Divergent DVD Pack?

We love giving away stuff at Booktopia, and with a little help from our friends we’ve always got some exciting comps and promos happening.

During August we gave you the chance to win 1 of 3 Divergent DVD Packs and a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker valued at $699!!!


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A Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

Thanks to our friends at HarperCollins Australia, all you had to do to enter the draw to win a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker Valued at $699 was buy Tex-Mex from Scratch and Texas BBQ!

And the lucky winner is:

O.D.Rosa, Stratford, QLD

Grab a copy of Tex-Mex from Scratch or Texas BBQ here


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Divergent DVD Packs

To celebrate the August 27 release of Divergent on DVD, our friends at Entertainment One gave you the chance to win a Divergent DVD Pack by buying any of the books in the Divergent series (Adult Editions)!

And the lucky winners are:

J.Chen, Earlwood, NSW
S.Howarth, Stonyfell, SA
J.Rados, Inglewood, WA


Congratulations to the winners!
For your chance to enter a Booktopia Competition click here

Tune into the ABC tonight for Brilliant Creatures

The cultural cringe will be closely examined on the ABC tonight in Brilliant Creatures, a documentary on Australia’s propensity to send its intellectuals packing.

Hosted and largely conceived by British novelist Howard Jacobson, Brilliant Creatures is a two-part look at the endowments to and departures from Australia by four of its very best minds: Germaine Greer, Robert Hughes, Barry Humphries, Clive James.


germaine

Germaine Greer

The Female Eunich
by Germaine Greerthe-female-eunuch

A worldwide bestseller, translated into over twelve languages, The Female Eunuch is a landmark in the history of the women’s movement.

Drawing liberally from history, literature and popular culture, past and present, Germaine Greer’s searing examination of women’s oppression is at once an important social commentary and a passionately argued masterpiece of polemic.

Probably the most famous, most widely read book on feminism ever.


 

Robert Hughes

Robert Hughes

The Fatal Shore
by Robert Hughesthe-fatal-shore

In 1787, the twenty-eighth year of the reign of King George III, the British Government sent a fleet to colonize Australia…

An epic description of the brutal transportation of men, women and children out of Georgian Britain into a horrific penal system which was to be the precursor to the Gulag and was the origin of Australia.

The Fatal Shore is the prize-winning, scholarly, brilliantly entertaining narrative that has given its true history to Australia.


 

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Barry Humphries

Handling Edna
by Barry Humphries

An intimate and penetrating examination of the world’s most famous woman, Dame Edna Everage, by the man who knows her best.

handling-edna

In this unauthorised biography, acquired for an unprecedented advance and in spectacular secrecy, long-time manager and the man who was there from the very beginning, Barry Humphries takes a behind-the-scenes, no-holds-barred look at an icon of our times – Dame Edna Everage.

Superstar, swami, confidante and advisor to royalty, Hollywood stars and international political leaders, Dame Edna s life has catapulted her far from her humble Moonee Ponds beginnings as a suburban housewife to the most elite social and artistic circles in the world. Who would have thought that this modest Australian woman could achieve so much from London to Louisiana to New York to Tokyo? Who could have anticipated her global fame? Barry Humphries certainly didn’t.


 

clive

Clive James

Unreliable Memoirs
by Clive James

The first volume of Clive James’s autobiography.

‘I was born in 1939. The other big event of that year was the outbreak of the Second World War, but for the moment, that did not affect me.’unreliable-memoirs

In the first instalment of Clive James’s memoirs, we meet the young Clive, dressed in short trousers, and wrestling with the demands of school, various relatives and the occasional snake, in the suburbs of post-war Sydney. His adventures are hilarious, his recounting of them even more so, in this – the book that started it all…

 

 


Presenter

Howard-Jacobson_1737896c

Howard Jacobson

J
by Howard Jacobson

A life-changing novel by one of Britain’s greatest novelists, winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2010.

Set in the future, a world where the past is a dangerous country, not to be talked about or visited, J is a love story of incomparable strangeness, both tender and terrifying.

Two people fall in love, not yet knowing where they have come from or where they are going. Kevern doesn’t know why his father always drew two fingers across his lips when he said a world starting with a J. It wasn’t jthen, and isn’t now, the time or place to be asking questions. Ailinn too has grown up in the dark about who she was or where she came from. On their first date Kevern kisses the bruises under her eyes. He doesn’t ask who hurt her. Brutality has grown commonplace. They aren’t sure if they have fallen in love of their own accord, or whether they’ve been pushed into each other’s arms. But who would have pushed them, and why?

Hanging over the lives of all the characters in this novel is a momentous catastrophe – a past event shrouded in suspicion, denial and apology, now referred to as What Happened, If It Happened.

Were you a winner during our Kids Month celebrations?

Kids Month_PromoLarge_Mobile

In August we gave you the chance to enter our Kids Month promotions! Lots and lots of goodies were up for grabs!


And the lucky winners are…

The Peppa Pig Competition - S. Moors, Mosman Park, WA

The Walker Picture Book Showcase Competition – E. Serisier, New Farm, QLD

Clementine Rose Competition - Y. Tanuwidjaja, Melbourne, VIC

Slaves of Socorro Competition – M. Mahmood, Williams Landing, VIC

The DK Non-Fiction Range Competition – B.Duffy, Conder, ACT

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid Competition – S. M. Lambert, Oyster Bay, NSW

Silver Shadows  Competition – M. Morley, Mordialloc, VIC

*The winners of the Where’s Wally Competition will be announced as soon as possible.


Congratulations to the winners!
For your chance to enter a Booktopia Competition click here

Jason Segel wants to give you Nightmares

Jason Segel is just plain annoying. Not only is he a great actor, screenwriter, and musician, but now he’s also an author.

Damn you Segel.

He’s teamed up with Kirsten Miller to put together a new book Nightmares! It’s all kinds of scary awesomeness.

NightmaresEleven-year-old Charlie Laird is desperate for a good night’s sleep – or even just a nap.

Ever since he moved into his stepmother’s mysterious purple mansion, Charlie’s life has become a living nightmare.

A terrifying witch haunts every second of his sleep and now the dread that fills his dreams is creeping into the waking world.

As President Fear and his fellow Nightmares feed off the unease that is spreading rapidly across the town, the Nightmare world threatens to take over.

Only by finding the courage to face their deepest, darkest fears can Charlie and his friends conquer the creatures of the night and save the day.

Grab a copy of Nightmares!

About the Authors

Jason Segel used to have nightmares just like Charlie, and just like Charlie, he’s learned that the things we’re most afraid of are the things that can make us strong…if we’re brave enough to face them. Jason likes acting, writing, making music, and hanging out with his friends. Sometimes he writes movies. Sometimes he writes songs for movies. Sometimes he stars in those movies and sings those songs. You might know him from The Muppets and Despicable Me. Your parents might know him from other stuff. Nightmares! is his first novel.

Kirsten Miller grew up in a small town just like Cyprus Creek, minus the purple mansion. She lives and writes in New York City. Kirsten is the author of the acclaimed Kiki Strike books and the Eternal Ones series.

Grab a copy of Nightmares!

Grab a copy of Nightmares!

Thanks to the awesome folks who entered our Facebook competition to win a copy of Nightmares! The winners are: Nikki Gitta Taylor, Pernilla Sinclair, Angie McM, Julie Dela Cruz, Andrew McKeown.

Winners, email us at promos@booktopia.com.au with your details and we’ll get your books out to you ASAP!

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