by Kim Kelly
MEET THE AUTHOR IN MILLTHORPE
Our Millthorpe Pop-Up is a celebration of Australian writing, our books all gathering together in a little gold-rush era village with stories whispering from every wild colonial verandah post. So, Alissa, how has your Australianness, or your experience of Australia, inspired or influenced your storytelling explorations?
In my case its rural Australia that has shaped my storytelling. I’ve always lived in regional or remote areas so it was only natural my stories played themselves out against a bush backdrop. I now live near Dubbo, red earth country, and the physical and community landscape always finds its way into my books.
If you were to set a tale in Millthorpe, with its many layers of history – from the Wiradjuri wars to boutique stores – what sort of a tale might you tell?
Millthorpe is so multi-nuanced, a walk along Pym Street always brings with it curiosity and questions. My hypothetical tale would be a romance (of course) plus a story that would pay homage to the pioneering past. There is something inspirational and courageous about carving out a new life in an unknown land.
Please tell us about the wonderful tales you’ll be bringing to the Millthorpe Pop-Up from far and wide.
For my latest release, The Red Dirt Road, I’ve loved revisiting the small town community of Woodlea (the town of windmills) that features in The Long Paddock. Hewitt, the strong and silent pickup rider, proves the perfect match for no-nonsense Dr Fliss. Edna, the town gossip, as well as Reggie, the misunderstood carrot-obsessed bull, again make an appearance along with a cast of new and familiar characters and animals. Even though Woodlea is fictitious, the small close-knit town does bear a resemblance to the Central West town of Molong.
Lovely! Now, what’s your favourite Australian story – be it a novel, a film, or legend? And why do you love it?
The Silver Brumby books by Elyne Mitchell remain my all-time favourite Australian books. Iconic, evocative and magical, they still transport me to the secret valley in the Snowy Mountains no matter how many times I read them.
Describe the view from your storytelling window today.
Unfortunately the view in front of me is of a bookshelf (my desk is fixed to the wall) but behind me my home office door opens onto our country garden. I have three dogs asleep beyond the door, cockatoos dressing the branches of the jacaranda tree in white and a mini pony sleeping beneath the cedar trees.
How beautiful. And I think this means it’s time for a cup of tea, don’t you? Fortunately, Millthorpe has plenty of options, from country pub to hatted restaurant, and several gorgeous cafes. So what’s your yen? Coffee and cake? Beer and chips? Coq au vin and Pinot Grigio? And while we’re here, which Australian author would you like to invite to your table?
I can’t go past a pot of English breakfast tea and scones (which have to be gluten free these days) smothered in raspberry jam and cream. As for who would invite to my table, I couldn’t just invite one author. We are so lucky to have such a breadth of talent and depth of generosity amongst our Australian authors and I’m humbled to be part of such a community.
Well, cheers to that! Thanks for bringing your story love to Millthorpe, Alissa.
Find out more about Alissa Callen here.