Today I’m excited to introduce you to the gorgeous Alissa Callen. Alissa is a USA Today bestselling author who is happiest living far from the city fringe. Alissa writes small town and rural fiction and is published with Random House, Tule Publishing Group and Harlequin Australia. 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.
Alissa, please tell us about your story behind the story …
The Long Paddock is a story that has been woven from the scents, sights and sounds of my everyday world. While Woodlea, the town of windmills, is fictitious, the landscape surrounding the town and the experiences of the local community are grounded in reality. My real life has a way of wriggling into my words much like how our Jack Russell sneaks into our kitchen.
I live on a small farm with my family in the central west of NSW where we grow winter oats and graze cattle. Our menagerie of animals, and the natural beauty around us, never fails to inspire me — even though one brown snake swimming in our pool is enough for inspiration, along with one grassfire. I hope never to see smoke in our front paddock again.
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 an issue I wanted to explore. Another issue I wanted to touch upon was rural mental health. Droughts can parch more than the earth and bushfires can burn more than windmill grass.
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 find myself with a bull-rider hero, but also a misunderstood bull who was determined to take center stage. Since I wrote The Long Paddock I discovered a bull like Reggie really does exist. His story may be different, and he may snore at night, but there are real people who have given a misjudged bull a forever home just like Cressy did.
I hope readers enjoy spending time in Woodlea as much as I enjoyed bringing this small, close-knit, rural community to life.
More about The Long Paddock:
Country-girl Cressida Knight fills her days with her farm, a rogue 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. He’s nothing but a liability and the beautiful cowgirl has to remain 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. When Woodlea is hit by more than just rodeo fever, they are further thrown together. 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?
You can find out more about Alissa at https://www.alissacallen.com/