When you’re cooking up a story, remember to add some flavour, says Alissa Callen.

Adding Flavour to Fiction Writing is comparable to cooking. Whether you throw in a pinch of an ingredient, substitute a component or end up with a burnt mess, writing and cooking are synonymous with creativity.

Alissa Callen x

It is no surprise that adding food into the writing mix can then impart both flavour and substance. It doesn’t matter if I’ve eaten a three-course meal or too-much cookie dough with the kids, when I sit down to write, food is always on my mind. Food helps define my characters and deepen their POV.

Food helps establish character back-story and needs. And food layers in the tastes, textures and scents of the real world. In Down Outback Roads I use food as a way to integrate the two different lives of my main characters.

Kree Garrett is from the Rocky Mountains, America, while Ewan Mackenzie is from the small rural town of Glenalla, Australia. Food is a common denominator, no matter what culture you may come from, that engenders discussion and dissolves boundaries. Kree arrives on Australian soil and soon develops a liking for the iconic Aussie lamington, a liking that allows her to connect with her new community.

Food is also used in Down Outback Roads as a reflection of my hero’s emotional journey. Guilt-ridden Ewan shuts himself off from all the good things life has to offer. At first he can’t embrace the American way of eating peanut butter with chocolate. But as his relationship with Kree progresses, he takes a risk and tries peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies.

Much to the delight of his twin nephews, quietly-spoken Darby and mischievous Braye, he finds the cookies edible and goes back for seconds. Ewan is now seen to be ready to take a bigger risk and let Kree into his life.

So the next time you are cooking up a story, reach into the pantry and flavour your writing with all the delicious nuances and sweet symbolism that a healthy serving of food will bring. Happy baking and writing.

Recipes from the food in Down Outback Roads:


1 plain and unfilled sponge or vanilla cake cut into squares (Can be made from scratch, from a packet mix or purchased)

Chocolate icing:
2.5 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup warm water

Sift together dry ingredients, whisk in water until smooth.
Tip 2 cups desiccated coconut into a wide-mouthed bowl. Roll chocolate-covered cake in coconut until evenly coated.
Lamingtons can also be sliced and filled with whipped cream or jam before being rolled in the chocolate icing and coconut.
Allow to set and then enjoy.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup of peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips or M & M’s/Smarties

Mix first four ingredients.
Drop small spoonfuls of mixture on to a lined biscuit tray, keeping in mind the cookies will spread.
Press in the chocolate chips on to the cookie tops.
Bake in a moderate oven until golden.


DOR - mediumSometimes you need to give yourself permission to fall in love. Kree Garrett’s younger brother Seth is all the family she has left, so when he goes missing in the Australian outback, she doesn’t think twice about leaving her American home to find him. When Seth is rescued, Kree vows to find a way to thank the small town of Glenalla. It isn’t long before she falls in love with the tight-knit rural community. But is it really the town she’s falling for?

Ewan Mackenzie has given up everything for his brother’s family, but he can never give enough to assuage his guilt at what happened one dark night, years ago . . . Ewan knows he doesn’t deserve a second chance at happiness, but when beautiful, open-hearted Kree stays to fight to save his home town, he finds it hard to keep his distance.

Can Kree and Ewan leave their pasts behind for long enough to find a future together?

When Alissa Callen isn’t writing she plays traffic controller to four children, three dogs, two horses and one renegade cow who really does believe the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. After a childhood spent chasing sheep on the family farm, Alissa has always been drawn to remote areas and small towns, even when residing overseas. Once a teacher and a counsellor, she remains interested in the life journeys that people take and her books are characteristically heart-warming, emotional and character driven. She currently lives on a small slice of rural Australia in central western New South Wales, Australia.


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