Jen: Today we welcome Alissa Callen to Romancing the Book. Alissa, will you share a short bio with us?
Alissa: When Alissa Callen isn’t writing she plays traffic controller to four children, three dogs, two horses and one renegade cow who really does believe the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. After a childhood spent chasing sheep on the family farm, Alissa has always been drawn to remote areas and small towns, even when residing overseas. Once a teacher and a counsellor, she remains interested in the life journeys that people take. She currently lives on a small slice of rural Australia.
Jen: Tell us a little about your newest release.
Alissa: His Outback Cowgirl is the fourth novella in my Wildflower Ranch Series published by Tule Publishing. The inspiration for His Outback Cowgirl came from two rural places I have lived in – small town Australia and small town America. I wanted to write a book that showcased the common denominators between the two worlds – the natural beauty of the areas, the close-knit communities and the universal deep love for family. When Australian cowgirl, Bridie Willis, travels to Montana, despite the differing accents and night sky, she finds a world not so different to the one she’d left behind.
Broad shoulders filled the ranch house doorway. Then, movements measured as though he had all the time in the world, a man stepped outside. Bridie looked into the stranger’s face and stared into eyes as flawless and as blue as the cloudless canopy above them.
At first she thought she’d met this man last night at Grey’s Saloon but subtle differences suggested this wasn’t Cordell Morgan but his twin. The two men might share the same handsome and even features but this man’s dark blond hair was short and neat and his eyes were as calm as a still pond. Her heart beat a little faster. This might be the steady and serious brother but he was just as drop-jaw gorgeous as Cordell.
“Welcome to Larkspur Ridge Ranch. I’m Ethan. You must be Zane’s sister, Bridie?”
She nodded. Even this cowboy’s words were unhurried and quiet. Her gaze lingered on his clean-shaven chin. She hadn’t been formally introduced to Ethan last night but she had seen him. Cordell had pointed his twin out sitting with his back to her at the edge of the crowd, engrossed in conversation with a starry-eyed brunette. Amongst all the saloon high-spirits and chaos, he’d sat still and self-possessed, an oasis of tranquillity in a world gone temporarily mad.
The slight narrowing of Ethan’s eyes let her know he wasn’t immune to her silent appraisal.
She stepped forward to offer her hand. “Yes, I’m Bridie. Nice to meet you.”
She must have imagined his slight hesitation before his calloused hand slid against her palm and his warm fingers wrapped around hers. She concentrated on making her grip as firm as any man’s and not on the increasing temperature of her cheeks. Since when did the heat of a stranger’s skin seep through her like the warmth of a winter sunrise?
She slipped her hand from his and looked to where the two obedient dogs now sat by his socked feet.
“Is this Rocket, the father of Finn’s puppy, Bug?” she asked bending to tickle the bigger dog’s ears.
“Yes and this is Bug’s brother, Milo.”
The puppy batted her arm with his paw as if to tell her to hurry up and pat him. She laughed and rubbed behind his ears. “Hello, Milo. Yes, I know, you’re just as cute as that mischievous Bug who stole one of my boots.”
She straightened and surprised a not-so-peaceful look in Ethan’s eyes. No longer a clear and composed blue, his irises had darkened. As quickly as the look appeared, it disappeared. She examined his face. She hadn’t been mistaken in what she’d seen. Her first impression hadn’t taken in the whole man. Still waters could run deep and this steady cowboy wouldn’t always be so controlled or so sensible.
Jen: Describe your writing in 3 words.
Alissa: Heart-warming. Emotional. Character driven
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Alissa: By always having a notebook handy, especially beside my bed. I just need to learn how to decipher the notes I’ve made when half-asleep.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Alissa: I’m slightly addicted to Google and pinterest so did lots of picture collecting. I also live on a farm so characters like the puppy, Milo, are based on a real puppy that we have. I have ridden by horseback into the Colorado high country so had lots of fun revisiting old photos and scrap books.
Jen: How do you come up with characters names?
Alissa: I love choosing new character names. Sometimes I look on Google or in a baby name book. I also read the credits after a movie and the names printed in my school newsletter. For the American names in His Outback Cowgirl I used a list of old pioneering family names.