Monday, February 11, 2013

Alissa Callen: Beneath Outback Skies #australia

Outback Skies

Romancing The West welcomes a fabulous author from Down Under, Alissa Callen, who writes rural novels set in the Outback similar to what we'd call contemporary western. I'm sure you'll find many commonalities in her interview and enjoy the excerpt from Beneath Outback Skies.

RTW: Thanks for joining us this week, Alissa! First of all, we'd love to read your book blurb.

AC: Paige Quinn will let nothing and no one distract her from caring for her wheelchair-bound father, Connor, and fighting for her 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…

RTW: Why do you write Westerns and Australian Rural fiction?

AC: Whether it be in the Australian outback or the American Old West, there was a time when men and women carved out a new life in an unfamiliar and often harsh land. I love writing about strong heroes with a fixed moral code and the sometimes unconventional heroines that fight for what they believe, whatever frontier they might live in. While my rural fiction stories might be contemporary they still echo the core values of my Western historical books—the value of community, loyalty and of being self-sufficient.

RTW: Is there something you’ve been curious about that you can’t find in your Western historical research sources?

AC: I’ve been lucky enough to have lived in Colorado as well as the outback, and am rather addicted to Google, but still remain curious about all the little details of frontier life. Research and photos offer a framework but it is the scents, sounds, tastes and nuances of a world that no longer exists that I wish I could tap into, even just for a day.

RTW: If a person who had never read a Western (any sub-genre) asked you for a recommendation, what novel or movie would you recommend and why?

AC: Ever since I picked up my first Louis LÁmour book I’ve been inseparable from the western genre. I’ve many Louis LÁmour favorites that could recommend but The Tall Stranger and Killkenny are perhaps at the top of my list. Here in Australia there is an iconic poem written by Banjo Patterson called The Man From Snowy River. In the 1980s it was made into a movie and the result is a beautiful and poignant depiction of pioneer life, Aussie style. So in terms of a visual recommendation, this movie would be a must-see.

RTW: Why must Tait Cavanaugh take this particular story journey in Beneath Outback Skies? How does Paige Quinn affect his journey?

Alissa Callen, author
AC: In my rural novel Beneath Outback Skies, Tait is on a quest for redemption. He must reclaim his birthright and assuage his guilt at believing that he let his mother down. In order to succeed he needs to keep two secrets. But the more he helps stubborn country-girl, Paige Quinn, fight to save her drought-stricken ranch, the harder it is for Tait to conceal such secrets.

RTW: Lucky for us, you've contributed an excerpt. Would you set the scene?

AC: Paige Quinn returns from droving cattle to find an unexpected paying guest on her historic ranch. Tait Cavanaugh’s charm doesn’t fool her. He’ll be nothing but trouble.

Excerpt from
Beneath Outback Skies
by Alissa Callen

‘Mr Cavanaugh, your being allergic to seafood does help. We don’t have insurance. So it’ll be in both our best interests if you stayed elsewhere.’ Paige gave what she hoped qualified as a smile. ‘I personally will arrange accommodation in another farm stay closer to town.’

‘I wouldn’t want to cause trouble.’

‘Oh, it’s no trouble. Believe me.’ She inclined her head toward the phone on the office bench. Her fingers curled into a fist at the urge to reach for the hand-set. ‘It just so happens I have the farm stay’s number on speed-dial.’

‘I bet you do.’ His chuckle failed to disguise the determination clipping his words. ‘But you won’t need any insurance. I’m a good boy scout and brought my emergency adrenaline EpiPen.’ The corner of his mouth kicked into a half-grin. ‘I’m sure you’ll have no trouble sticking a needle in me.’

She compressed her lips to stifle a smile.

Gorgeous. Witty. Used to getting his own way.

This city pretty-boy wasn’t even staying a day.

Beneath Outback Skies
is available at:

RTW: Ha! That's what Paige thinks, but we have an idea that's not so. What are you working on now?

AC: For the next little while I will be taking off my rural hat and putting on my western historical hat and finishing a story called Colorado Christmas Bride.

RTW: Please come back when it's released and tell us about it!  Anything else you’d like to add?

AC: Thank you so much for having me. And if anyone has any questions about Australia or the outback would be happy to answer them.

RTW: What a generous offer! And thank you, Alissa, for taking the time to visit with us today.

Free Book!
Leave a comment or a question about the outback
and you could win a Kindle book
What Love Sounds Like
Sweet contemporary set in the outback
(Escape Publishing)

Small print: Please include your email address with your comment or Alissa can't send the book to you if your name is drawn. Drawing will be held February 16 at 9pm Pacific Time. Winner will be notified by email.  For another chance to win, stop by Thursday when Alissa will tell us all about the outback bushrangers.


  1. Oh he sounds like trouble with a capital 'T' :-) lovely interview ladies.

    1. Hi Sherry, Tait sure is trouble - but in the end good trouble:) Thanks so much for stopping by.

  2. It will be interesting to see the similarities between the outback and rural western US ranches. Nice interview.

    1. Hi Stephanie, there are plenty of similarities but also some fascinating differences. We have a rural author called Mandy Magro down here who writes about rodeos (Aussie-style) too:)

  3. Alissa, I love the exerpt. Margaret Tanner is an author I admire and we commented that the Old West and Old Outback had many similarities. Love that you write both Old West and contemporary Australia. Best wishes for continued success.

    1. Hi Caroline, Margaret is also a member of Romance Writers of Australia and she does write beautiful books about Australian frontier life. All the very best to you too:)

  4. I had to smile at the title. I live in rural QLD & my daughter & I were outside just a short while ago enjoying the very same, albeit a night sky.

    I would love to read BENEATH OUTBACK SKIES thank you.


  5. Hi Mary, those Queensland skies are something special:) Thanks so much for visiting.


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