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Guest blogger: Alissa Callen

3 January 2016

Alissa CallenThe making of a country heart

Country life has a way of slipping into your psyche and holding you close so you never want to leave.

I’ve always lived far from the city fringe. I feel the safest when a night sky is lit by stars not streetlamps. I feel the most serene when silence is interrupted by cicadas and not sirens. I feel the most at home when surrounded by isolation instead of neighbours.

The eldest of seven children, I grew up chasing sheep on a family farm outside Tamworth. Summer days were spent catching yabbies in dams and wet winter afternoons riding through temporary creeks. There were also life lessons to learn. Droughts parch more than the earth. Bushfires burn more than windmill grass. And small communities are the heart of the bush.

Post-school, I lived in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado as an exchange student. Here my attachment to rural areas and small towns grew. Elk grazed in my front yard instead of kangaroos. Golden aspens shivered in the autumn air instead of evergreen gum trees. And while the accents might be different, everyone still knew each other’s names.

I returned home and went to a country university. Here I met my country boy. After time overseas experiencing English country life, I was married in a tiny, Virginia-creeper covered country church, near Uralla, NSW. Married life saw us head out west to Nyngan where my husband was the rural financial counsellor and I taught in tiny, one-teacher schools. On the edge of the outback there were no hills (only the levee bank around town) but there were endless sunsets, long river walks and strong community spirit.

When the first of our four children arrived, our needs changed, and we headed two hours east to the regional centre of Dubbo. We bought a small farm with a large country garden and here we have stayed. Our feather and fur kids include dogs, cows, horses, ponies, chickens and Pekin ducks. The mechanical horse power in the sheds only gets faster and noisier as motorbikes are outgrown and ute and tractor driving skills acquired.

My little farmers are now teenage farmers. Resilient, compassionate and hard working they represent the best of what growing up in the bush can offer. They will soon leave to spread their wings and I have no doubt they will return to the country life that is part of who they are and that we all love. A country life that I’m privileged to spend my days writing about.

You can find Alissa here: Website | Facebook

You can find Alissa’s books here: Outback Dust seriesWildflower Ranch series

Hold Me CowboyHold Me, Cowboy

Marietta home town girl Kendall Dixon knows who she is and what she wants, even if the stubborn and slow-smiling cowboy who owns her heart is long gone from Montana.

Rancher Brent Ashton returns to Marietta to care for his sick mother. Haunted by the death of his father, he is determined to save his derelict home and to resist rekindling the romance with the only girl he’s ever loved. He can’t let sacrifice her dreams for him.

But the shy and sweet Kendall he left behind has become a strong and determined woman. A woman who won’t let her cowboy walk away for a second time.

  1. Shelagh Merlin permalink
    4 January 2016 1:31 pm

    I really enjoyed reading a little about your background, Alissa. Like you, I love gazing out at the bush around our home, watchng the kangaroos come in at dusk and sitting out under the lear night sky in the evening. In the morning my alpacas wander up to the bouse and graze for a little while before heading off into the trees. Life in the country is idyllic for me and I love the way you bring the country life into your books.

    • 5 January 2016 9:12 am

      Hi Shelagh,

      lovely to see you here:) Yes country life is wonderful and with all our recent rain all the kangaroos have returned. I even had 2 last night stay still and really close while I walked past. Your alpacas would be adorable! My youngest is still working on her father to get a kitten and an aplaca!!

  2. 3 January 2016 1:34 pm

    Lovely insight to your life and where your ideas come from Alissa. I enjoyed your post as I do your books. 🙂

    • 3 January 2016 6:54 pm

      Hi Hayson, thanks so much for reading this post:) Do love living where I do – especially when it is school holidays and I have two noisy teenagers I can send up the paddock! Alissa x

    • 3 January 2016 6:55 pm

      Hi Suz, Hugs! Thank you:):) Alissa x

  3. 3 January 2016 12:48 pm

    Fabulous post, Alissa. I would love to live in the country, it sounds heavenly. I’m looking forward to reading Hold me Cowboy – sounds fabulous. Congratulations!

  4. melteshco permalink
    3 January 2016 11:00 am

    I’ve just learned something more about you Alissa – great insight!

  5. 3 January 2016 10:42 am

    Hi Helen,

    Your visits to your Pop’s central coast farm sound very special:) My husband used to visit his grandparents there too and we were lucky enough to be able to take our eldest daughter there while they were still alive.

    Take care,


  6. helensibbritt permalink
    3 January 2016 10:15 am

    Hi Alissa

    What a great post although I have always lived in suburbia I have always wanted to live in the country my grandparents had a small farm on The Central Coast of NSW and I spent a lot of time there for holidays we had cows that had calves that my Pop was naming after his grandchildren LOL we never got as far as my name we grew vegies and sold to the local fruit market had adventures in the bush so much fun. The Farm as we called it is long gone now but the memories are there I think that is one of the reasons that I love rural romance so much and I have a lot of them to catch up on just need more hours in the day 🙂

    Have Fun

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