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

by |September 19, 2014

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

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