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It is a pleasure to welcome Alissa Callen to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews for A Tea Break with Mrs B, an author interview series. To help celebrate the release of Snowy Mountains Promise we sat down for a chat. Thanks Alissa!

Hello Alissa. It is my pleasure to welcome you back to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews. I greatly appreciate the time you have provided to answer a few questions. To begin, what is your drink of choice as we sit down for a chat about your new book?

Hi Mrs B 😊 It’s lovely to be back and chatting with you again. Today will be my usual hot chocolate with a gluten free chocolate caramel slice on the side.

What writing and publishing highlights have you experienced this year?

2022 flew past. In February it was wonderful to have Rowan and Grace’s story out. I loved writing their happily-ever-after. I then had a fun Christmas novella to complete for a rural vet anthology, as well as my last book in the Snowy Mountains series to deliver.

Can you give us a brief overview of your new book, Snowy Mountains Promise?

Taite and Hettie’s story takes place in my little book town of Bundilla. It features a kelpie chaperone, meddling quilting club members and a town scandal. It also explores the themes of second chances, the bonds of family and community and the duality of human nature.

What is the significance of the title to the book?

The title Snowy Mountains Promise encapsulates the essence of the story. Central to the book is a decades old promise that a couple made to each other. Then there are unspoken promises that bind other characters together, promises that get broken and promises that people make to themselves.

What did you enjoy most about writing Snowy Mountains Promise?

Even though every year I plan for my book writing to be a meander instead of a sprint, real life inevitably decides otherwise. It wasn’t until reached The End that could then take the time to relax and enjoy the editing and polishing phases.

What topics do you explore in Snowy Mountains Promise?

As with all my books, this story is multi-layered. There is the usual romantic relationship as am fascinated by how people connect. The rural landscape becomes a character in itself along with animals, such as Bundy the free-spirited kelpie who calls the town of Bundilla home. I also like to explore current local country issues and, in this case rural crime. There had been a spate of thefts in our area. Our neighbour’s ute was stolen and ended up in the river and despite our three ‘guard’ dogs our farm vehicles were also broken into. Then finally I love to layer in something like a family secret which in this book merges with an old unsolved mystery. 

What do you love most about the Bundilla series?

It always feels like I am returning home when I start a Bundilla story. The books, and town, are woven from threads of my rural life as well as my imaginary fictional world. In years to come my kids will read the series, and while only they will know which parts relate to them, they will see snippets of their childhoods reflected back at them.

Can you tell us more about the rural landscape featured in Snowy Mountains Promise?

I grew up on a farm at Tamworth and every afternoon would walk or ride to the top of a steep hill to look out over the river valley.

A long time ago I also lived in the Rocky Mountains which further fuelled my appreciation for the mountains. When I finished my series based around where I live in the Central West of NSW it seemed natural to pack my author bags and move to the Snowy Mountains. My extended family have a small farm there plus I hold many fond memories of visiting the high country when my children were young.

Where did the inspiration for the characters of Hettie and Taite come from?

Between Dubbo and Molong there is a tourist trail of sculptures made from rusted farm machinery and this was key in the character formation of Taite. I’ve also always wanted to write about a deer farm after visiting one in Scotland. Hettie was shaped in a way to ensure that she would be both the worst person for Taite to be in close proximity with, and then in the end, the best person. At the time I was being treated by a lovely chiropractor so that’s what Hettie’s occupation turned out to be.

What is one thing you would like your audience to take away from the experience of reading Snowy Mountains Promise?

When I started writing I thought long and hard about what genre to write in. Real life doesn’t always go to plan so I wanted to tell feel good and uplifting stories that might offer a respite, or escape, to anyone who could be in need of one. So, I hope if a reader was going through a tricky time or their lives had become busy, then they would take away a sense of peace and calm once they’d turned the last page.

What books are on your to-be-read pile?

Lots of regency books that I only keep adding to.

What are you working on writing wise at present?

I am just wrapping up Brenna and Wyatt’s story which will be called Snowy Mountains Dawn and out February 2024. Just like the title hints at this book is all about new beginnings and diehard country girl Brenna finally meeting her match. After then I will need to put my thinking cap on for my next rural town that my new series will be based on. This time I plan to head to Tasmania and the small town will be known as the town of waterfalls.

Thank you for taking the time to visit Mrs B’s Book Reviews Alissa and congratulations on the publication of Snowy Mountains Promise.

Thank you so much for having me 😊

A town scandal. A kelpie chaperone. A winter ball. The bush telegraph has never had so much to talk about…

A delightfully charming rural story about love and healing from bestselling Australian author Alissa Callen.

Hettie Burbrook is the first to admit she’s happiest when flying solo through the outback skies. After her hobby of photographing farmers lands her a book deal, it provides the ideal cover story to visit small-town Bundilla. But every photograph brings her closer to uncovering the answers behind why she is really in the mountains…

Deer farmer Taite Lancaster is as strong as the tempered steel he welds into lifelike animal sculptures. Unlike his father, he will never allow feelings to break him. But when the old schoolfriend of his twin sister lands on the airstrip of their high-country station, he knows he’s in trouble. Hettie is the one woman he can’t forget.

While they’re both determined to keep to themselves, between dog races, a ute muster and a winter ball, Hettie and Taite are forced to face how much they need each other. And when a long-buried scandal erupts into the present, relationships and lives are threatened.

Can a man who locks away his emotions reveal his vulnerability before the mountain snow melts? And can a woman intent on righting a decades-old tragedy listen to her heart before history repeats itself?

Snowy Mountains Promise by Alissa Callen was published on 1st February 2023 by HQ Fiction – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

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