Nowhere Else, by Fiona McCallum.

Published by Harlequin, $32.99

Who would have guessed a country girl from South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula would find national success with a debut novel? Paycheque, a novel best described as ‘McLeod’s Daughters meets Maeve Binchy’ was an instant bestseller.

A strong believer in writing what you know, Fiona finds inspiration from her own experiences when sitting down to write. It’s no surprise people loved the realism in her first novel; Paycheque drew upon Fiona’s years growing up on a farm surrounded by horses in regional SA. Now, Nowhere Else parallels another chapter of her life.

Nowhere Else began as a tribute to friends lost in the Whyalla Airlines flight 904 crash back in 2000. When the engines cut out mid-air, Whyalla Airlines pilot Ben Mackiewicz and his seven passengers were tragically killed in the accident. Fiona often flew Whyalla Airlines, so the crash was close to home in more ways than one.

Fiona’s heroine in Nowhere Else, Nicola, wins a Walkley for her investigation into this crash.

On the surface, current affairs reporter Nicola Harvey has the world at her feet. She’s at the top of her profession, part of Australia’s television A-list, has a wealthy and successful fiancé, and a beautiful warehouse conversion in Adelaide. But appearances can be deceiving and Nicola’s life is far from perfect.

The timing couldn’t be better when her boss sends her on an extended research trip to investigate the effects of the drought. Nicola jumps at the chance for some country-style R&R. But when Nicola arrives in the little town of Nowhere Else, nothing is as she’d expected. There’s no spa in town, the locals are tight-lipped, and Nicola senses it’s not just the drought that’s making them nervous. So why did her boss send her out there? The deeper Nicola digs, the more she sees coming to Nowhere Else wasn’t such a mistake after all. In fact, it may unlock the mystery of her own past and hold the key to her future happiness…

The same rang true for Fiona when in 2005, she too gave up the hustle and bustle of city life and her high-flying partner, to realise what truly made her happy. Fiona left Sydney for Adelaide and pursued her childhood dream, a career in writing. The risk paid off and now, with a bestseller under her belt, there’s nowhere else Fiona would rather be.

Between her knowledge of the subject and her knack for writing down-to-earth characters, Fiona captures the essence of what people love most about Australian country life.

Put Nowhere Else on your Christmas wishlist now!