Today on Behind the Pen I am delighted to welcome Alissa Callen with a few of her favourites along with a surprise sneak peek at her next novel.
What is your favourite…and why…
Character from one of your books?
I’m hard pressed to choose a human character (it’s like choosing a favourite child) so will pick an animal one instead. Reggie is a misunderstood and massive Brahman-cross bull who appears throughout my Town of Windmills series. Cressy rescued Reggie when he was abandoned on a travelling stock route as a calf. His unique bond with the cowgirl, along with his carrot-obsession, are legendary.
Cressy and her sister, Fliss, also believe he is an impeccable judge of character. In The Long Paddock bull rider Denham passes the reggie-test when he feeds the bull carrots. In The Red Dirt Road Reggie also allows pickup rider Hewitt to hand feed him. Then in Under Christmas Stars cattleman Drew also passes the reggie-test. Unfortunately for the drover, Tanner, he doesn’t yet have Reggie’s approval. But in the story I’m writing now (The Round Yard) I’m hoping Reggie will stop bellowing and pawing the ground long enough to give Tanner a chance.
Scene from one of your books?
The Red Dirt Road is out February 2018 and I love that first moment when the hero and heroine meet.
An unfamiliar black ute negotiated the dip in the road, a quad bike strapped on the back. Denham sat in the passenger seat and he lifted a hand in greeting as Fliss and Cressy walked through the garden gate. Fliss returned his gesture, her attention focusing on the man beside him. Through the windscreen she glimpsed masculine features guaranteed to make any single woman take a second look.
The ute navigated the soft corner with ease before rolling to a stop next to the white Land Cruiser. Denham left his seat while Hewitt strode around the front of the ute. Her first impression hadn’t been wrong. Tall, broad-shouldered and lean-hipped, by anyone’s definition her guest would be considered gorgeous. Dressed in a blue shirt, jeans and boots, and with his dark head bare, he’d send the Woodlea grapevine into a frenzy. She studied the tanned angles and planes of his set features. Despite the ease with which he approached, he seemed guarded. Relief slid through her, reducing the tremors in her nerves to a tremble. He’d want as little to do with her as she would with him. Nothing would change just because she had a cowboy living across the garden.
Then Hewitt smiled. Even though his focus was on Cressy, Fliss felt the effect of his slow grin as though he was looking right at her. The rigid landscape of his face relaxed and softened, revealing the humanity beneath. Unable to look away, she fought a frown. Since when did the warmth of a man’s smile flow through her like a sugar rush after night duty? Normally she was a slow-burn girl. The only sparks she believed in were the ones she could see.
Another city habit she couldn’t let go of was reading people. Once a patient had been triaged by the emergency department nurse, Fliss would remain alert for signs of what the patient mightn’t have revealed. Was their pain real? Were they coping? What would their pain threshold be? And just like then, when Hewitt’s grey eyes met hers, she really looked at the man before her. He might stand still and straight, his arms loose by his side, but in the bleak darkness of his gaze she recognised untold emotional suffering. The slight hunch of his left shoulder and the grooves beside his mouth confirmed he was also in physical pain, and not just a small amount. A lesser man would have his shoulders bowed.
Something within Fliss tightened. Cressy had reassured her Hewitt wouldn’t be trouble and she’d hardly know he was there. Nothing could be further from the truth. He already was trouble and she already knew she wouldn’t forget he was around. For this strong and stoic cowboy, whose eyes crinkled at the corners when he smiled, was unlike any man she’d ever met.
Movie of all time?
My favourite go-to movie is Persuasion staring Rupert Penry-Jones.
Book that you always keep a copy of and recommend to others?
Since I was a child I’ve collected The Silver Brumby series by Elyne Mitchell. When my two daughters turned out to be readers I passed on the editions I’d kept and I hope they will one day do the same.
Fashion accessory that despite having plenty of, you still keep collecting?
Scarfs – for winter and summer. Can never have enough.
Drink that you enjoy everyday?
Vittoria hot chocolate with frothy milk
Treat you indulge in?
This year – Raspberry and white chocolate gluten free muffins
Last year – Lemonade (not gluten free) scones and lashings of cream
Place to be?
Anywhere there are snowcapped mountains – Colorado, Lucerne, Salzburg, Glencoe, Perisher
Person you admire?
Anyone who finishes writing a book. This can be such a complex process, and it doesn’t matter how many you write, some books just won’t play nice.
Season of the year?
Alternate between Spring and Autumn when my country garden has fragrance and colour amongst the weeds.
Thanks so much for having me over Theresa.