Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Unsafe Haven with Char Chaffin

Hi! Thanks so much for coming today.  

Hi, Carrie, great to be here! Thanks for having me.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I’m a displaced Alaskan who now lives on a farm in Upstate NY with my husband, Don, and our Rat Terrier Daisy Mae, fifteen years old and the Boss of Us. ::grin:: We have children, grandchildren and assorted family scattered all over the United States, from Fairbanks to Texas and from Whidbey Island to Myrtle Beach. It would take a miracle to get them all together at the same time in the same place, but we keep hoping!

Tell us a bit about your book.  

UNSAFE HAVEN is my second book and the first that I’ve set in Alaska. On the run from an abusive ex-fiancé, Kendall Martin finds sanctuary—and a new love—when she moves to a tiny Southwest Alaskan village and meets local cop Denn Nulo. But Kendall will discover there’s nowhere truly safe, and in a remote place like SW Alaska, she might be able to hide, but she can’t run.  

Is this part of a series?

 Not this one, although I do plan on setting a few more stories in Alaska, and possibly trying my hand at a series sometime in the future. But for now, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring Southwest Alaska, where UNSAFE HAVEN takes place, and combining what I already know about Alaska with the added difficulties of life in one of the most remote regions of the state.

What was your favorite part?

I absolutely loved writing Conroy Herington, Kendall’s sociopath ex-fiancé. Though I write romance, my first literary love is horror. What often scares me the most is the realistic monster who can live in humans and reveals itself in so many terrifying ways. In Conroy, I saw a chance to bring the monster to life: no conscience, no soul. He was a lot of fun to write! 

Why did you choose to write romance?

I think it chose me, more than the other way around. I grew up on horror and always thought if I wrote a book, I’d be giving Stephen King a run for his money. Think big, right?  But when I started in earnest, romance came pouring out. I blame my husband, Mr. Romance himself, who’s obviously a bad influence on me.  ::wink::

Rate your story in terms of steaminess

I tend to think in terms of, “less is more,” and so a story like UNSAFE HAVEN has sex scenes but they’re not overly-explicit. I don’t want to leave my reader scratching their heads, wondering if they read sex or just a scene about juggling apples, or swapping skivvies. Nor am I comfy with the hard-core words, unless I make up my mind at the onset of the creative process that what I’m about to write will be erotic versus sweetly sensual. I can write the erotica and I really do enjoy it (who wouldn’t??), but I have to be in the mood, or have just practiced with Mr. Romance. It’s a dirty job, as he’ll often tell me, but somebody has to assume the position. Hee. With that in mind, here’s my scale:

1: Juggling Apples (was that sex or just a stiff breeze flying past my eyeballs?)
2: Swapping Skivvies (kissing, touching, flashing underwear, etc.) (but not a lot of etc.)
3: Tab/Slots a Fun (The Full Monty of a love scene but easy on the descriptive words, and there might be a fade-away, too)
4: Tell Me About It (And don’t leave anything out, including all the buzz words, detail the Tab/Slot stuff and get inventive with body language)
5: Tell Me About It, Redux (just do Number 4, stretch it to several pages and assure it’s explicit enough to make my entire family mortified to be related to me)
I haven’t done a lot of 5 yet, so my family’s still talking to me. But hey, that could change on a whim. Gotta have something to hold over their heads, right?

What are you reading right now?

 I’m on a review campaign, so I’m trying to get many of my fellow Soul Mate authors’ books read and reviewed for them. I’m also an Acquisitions Editor for Soul Mate Publishing, so my manuscript pile is large! I have five contracted, in the midst of edits, and scheduled for release, plus two in negotiation. You could say I’m in Reader’s Heaven!

I know this is like asking who is your favorite child, who is your favorite romance author (s)?

 Hands down, it’s Nora Roberts. I collect her so I have one large bookcase packed with her books. Nobody, but nobody, does male characters like Nora, with so much understanding of the male psyche.

What is your favorite romance book or series? 

For a single book, my favorite would have to be Dean Koontz’s WATCHERS. Dean writes the best villains, ever. I read WATCHERS about every couple of years. For series, I adore JD Robb’s IN DEATH. Absolutely riveting.

Who is your favorite romance character? If you could go on a date with that person, what would 
you do? Details please! *wink*

I’d have to go with Roarke. Those Irish good looks, the mouthwatering face, the charm, the strength. 
::fans self::  As for a date, we both know what an impossibility it would be: Eve would kill me deader than dead. So, I suppose I’ll just have to dream about it...!

Boxers or Briefs? 

Hmm. You know, going commando has its merits.

Chocolate or Vanilla? 

Chocolate, always!

Do you have a special piece of clothing you wear when you write? 

I’d like to say I strip down to my bra and a thong no wider than a sling-shot, and write while sexy, 
muscular men wearing Dingo boots (and nothing else) rub scented oil all over my body... but where are you going to find Dingo boots around here?  I guess that leaves my comfy sweats and my slipper boots, drat it all.

What were your first impressions of each other?

I’ll let my characters answer.

Denn Nulo: When I first saw Kendall, I thought, “There’s a girl I could spend forever with,” and that was after I realized how skittish and gun-shy she is. It’s in the eyes, the tilt of the head, the blush on the cheeks and the sideways glances, filled with longing, that she’d give me.

Kendall Martin:  When I first saw Denn, I was intimidated and yet strangely fascinated. I wondered how such a big, strong man could be gentle and patient enough to chase away all my bad memories. He’s the sexiest guy I’ve ever seen and the most unaware of how he affects women. And that in itself is such a turn-on.

What are your favorite parts about each other?

Kendall Martin: I love Denn’s hair. It’s long and thick, silky and rain-straight, pure black and cool to the touch. I love to twist my fingers in that mane of his and hold on tightly while he—um, I probably can’t say it in an interview without, you know, getting censored, so I guess you’ll have to use your imagination.

Denn Nulo: I love Kendall’s eyes. When we first met, they were brown—she wore contact lenses as a kind of disguise, but honestly, nobody who really knows her could have been fooled by just color, because her eyes are so big and expressive. Now that she trusts me enough to let me see their real color, I’m even more in love with her gorgeous baby blues.

What is next for you? 

In between the editing, I’m working on my third novel, a vintage romance tentatively titled, “Jesse’s Girl.” No, it’s not based on the song. Well, not exactly. It deals with overcoming small-town lies and half-truths, repairing a bad reputation, winning the girl, and redemption, against a backdrop of Mid-Sixties tumult.

GIVEAWAY: I’m giving away an ebook copy of UNSAFE HAVEN, plus a signed print copy of my debut novel, PROMISES TO KEEP. To be eligible, make sure to include your email address in your comment!

My links:

Book Trailer for Unsafe Haven:

Buy Links:

Soul Mate Publishing:


Barnes & Noble:

Char Chaffin started reading romance, science fiction and horror at a very young age. Her love of books is directly responsible for her overflowing bookcases, and the bounty stored on her Kindle threatens to eclipse her entire paper collection. Char currently writes mainstream and contemporary romance filled with family, rich characters and engaging plots. For her, it all comes back to the love.

Char began her writing odyssey as a poet, crafting Victorian-style poetry, then went on to writing short stories. She found her niche when she began writing longer and longer short stories, until she wrote her first novel. It might never see the light of day, but writing it taught her a lot. Over the years she worked a variety of jobs, from farm hand to costume designer to fiscal accountant, before deciding a writing career was her true focus.

In addition to writing, Char is also an Acquisitions Editor for Soul Mate Publishing.

A native New Yorker, Char currently lives Upstate on a sixty-acre farm with husband Don, rat terrier Daisy Mae and two barn cats who constantly slack off on the job of keeping the barn free of varmints. The Chaffin extended family is scattered all over the continental United States including Alaska.

Char and Don divide their time between New York State and Alaska.

When she’s not pounding away at her keyboard or burying her nose in books and Kindle, she tends a huge vegetable garden and helps Don maintain their farm. 

For Kendall Martin, a small, remote village in Southwest Alaska seems like a good place to start over. On the run from an abusive relationship, she leaves everything familiar behind and begins a new life as owner of a small souvenir and sportsman trading post in picturesque Staamat.

Denn Nulo knows everyone in town: he’s the Chief of Police in Staamat. He’s lived there all his life, except for his college years, spent in Anchorage. Originally planning on practicing criminal law and living in Anchorage permanently, Denn is forced to change his plans when he receives word that his widowed mother has passed away, leaving his young sister, Luna, alone. Denn comes back to Staamat to care for Luna.

When Kendall meets Denn, she begins to believe there are truly good men in the world. Denn is everything she wants: strong, loving, dedicated to family, protective. . .and patient. There is instant attraction between them, but Kendall is leery of men, and Denn craves a serious relationship that includes marriage and children. Their courtship is a conflicting mix of hesitancy and passion, with Luna, desperately needing a mother figure in her life, cheering them on.

As Kendall learns how to trust again and her romance with Denn grows more intense, a local woman who’s had her eye on Denn for years releases a torrent of damaging jealousy. . .and the nightmare from Kendall’s past discovers where she’s hidden herself.

 Chapter Fourteen

A hand gently shook Kendall’s shoulder. “Sweetheart, I have to go.”
She came awake with a start and peered up at Denn through the tangled curls that hung in her face. He regarded her somberly, but his eyes gleamed in the shadowy room.
Kendall cleared her throat. “What time is it?”
“After ten. We both fell asleep.” He sat beside her, threaded his fingers through her hair and brushed it back, skimming a knuckle over her cheek. “You’ve got wrinkles.”
“What?” Still groggy from sleep, she struggled to sit upright and pressed her hand to her face. “What wrinkles? I’m only twenty-three, I shouldn’t have wrinkles.” She pushed against him. “Let me up, I need a mirror, I need to see–”
“From the cushion, Kendall.” He pointed to the pleated pillow she’d had her face buried in. He chuckled softly when she frowned at him. “You always this gullible when you wake up?”
“You’re just mean.” She punched his shoulder weakly and he caught her hand and pulled her close. With a sigh, she settled into the curve of his body. “I’m sorry I fell asleep on you.”
“No biggie. Besides, I conked out on you, too.” He nuzzled her ear, warm breath tinged with a trace of the coffee they’d shared after dinner. “I liked sleeping with you.”
Her face flamed and she hid it against him. “I’ve never slept with anyone before.”
A soft groan rumbled in his throat. “Don’t tell me that. I’m already having a hard enough time leaving you.” He cupped the back of her head and brought her closer. “I’m your first?”
“Sort of.” She eased away, but met his eyes. “You’re the first man I’ve ever slept with, but you’re not the first I’ve ever . . .” She gestured, finding the words too embarrassing to say. “You know.”
“Made love with? But we haven’t. Not completely.” He kissed her, then murmured against her lips, “Not yet.” His kiss deepened passionately when she clung to him.
As their lips parted, she dropped her forehead to his chest and struggled to regain her breath. No one had ever affected her this way. He’d given her more pleasure than she’d ever had. And with the realization of what he’d come to mean to her, came the surety that if she’d known Denn Nulo would someday enter her life, she’d have waited for him. She whispered it aloud.
Her eyes closed over sudden tears as his arms tightened in response. “When the time’s right, you’ll give me innocence, Kendall. Never doubt it.”
“But it’s not—I don’t—” She gazed at him, her vision blurry. “I don’t have much innocence left. After I, um, ran from Portland, I spent a year in Pendleton. I was so determined to obliterate Roy from my life. I worked at a coffee shop, went out on dates. Gave myself to a nice guy who didn’t have a clue his new girlfriend was a screwed-up mess.” She rubbed away tears and released a troubled sigh. “His name was Greg, and he loved me. He wanted more than I could give. I tried, I really did.”
She moved away and stared at Denn, sympathy and understanding softening his features. She gestured helplessly. “I wouldn’t let him stay the night. We’d go out, come back to my apartment, have sex.” She blushed. “Afterward, he’d leave. I never offered it, and he pretty much had to beg for it. He started out patient with me, but I knew it was only a matter of time before things got too difficult. In the end I broke it off because sex with him made me uncomfortable and unhappy. I walked away before our relationship dragged him down and he ended up miserable.”
Denn was quiet a moment. He took her hand and held it, absently stroking her palm with his thumb. “Kendall, I’m not going to point fingers, here. I’m certainly no virgin. And I’ve got plenty of baggage.” He pulled her into his lap and cuddled her. “I had a girl at UAA. Sharon. It was getting serious. She was a Physics major and planned on doing graduate work in Fairbanks. We talked briefly of marriage but neither of us came close to being ready.”
He paused, and sighed. “Sharon broke it off three months before my mother died and I had to fly home for Luna. She’d met someone else. Another Physics major. A woman.” He quirked a half-grin when her mouth dropped open in shock.
“Oh, my. I’m not even sure what to say.”
“Yeah, kind of how it hit me, too. After she left, I went through the wringer, thinking my ‘technique,’ for want of a better word, sucked crude oil. Here I am, slapping myself on the back for being a stud-muffin, and my girl’s getting her satisfaction from a woman.”
He shrugged. “When our relationship ended, at first I thought I could get her back. But I was the wrong gender. This woman gave Sharon something I couldn’t.”
“So, you let her go.”
“I did. Three months later, I was back in Staamat, arranging a funeral and learning how to deal with my baby sister.”
She curled her arms around his neck and gave him a loving hug. “I’d never throw you over.” She held his gaze and hated to see the trace of sadness in the depths of his warm, amber eyes. “I’ll bet Sharon regrets the day she ever tossed you away.”
“Actually, I heard from her after I got back here. She’d married her girlfriend and they were searching for a sperm donor. She thought I might like to volunteer. I pictured a candlelit room, Barry White music, and a turkey baster. I laughed in her ear and hung up on her. Close your mouth, Kendall,” he admonished. He put a finger under her chin and pushed her jaw playfully.
She batted at his fingers, then held them in a loose grip. “Did she ever call you back and ask again?”
She couldn’t help but ask, “You didn’t change your mind, and decide—of course you didn’t.” She paused. “Did you?”
“What do you think?” He looked indignant.
“I think you told her where she could stick her turkey baster.”
With a shout of laughter, he caught her close and hugged her. She rubbed his back soothingly.
After a few minutes, Denn stirred. “I have to relieve Stevie. He likes to make sure he’s home to help his mother with her bedtime meds.” He gave Kendall a lingering kiss, which she returned with eagerness.
Three kisses later, he groaned. “This time I have got to go.”
“Okay.” She scooted off his lap and waited as he stuck his feet into his boots and laced them. A thick skein of hair slipped over one eye as he straightened, and he grinned at her through the silky curtain. The pure sex emanating from him almost buckled her knees. Those wide shoulders and long, long legs, encased in snug, worn jeans. All that blacker-than-night hair, falling around a face God had seen fit to enhance with twinkling eyes and an effortlessly charming smile. As if that weren’t enough, He’d balanced Denn’s considerable physical gifts with a big generous heart, and so much loyalty she couldn’t begin to measure it.
And he’s falling in love with me.
“What?” He sent her a quizzical look as he stepped closer, ready to kiss her goodbye.
Unable to help herself, Kendall all but jumped into his arms, knowing he’d catch her, hold her tighter than tight, until she could barely breathe. His body cradled hers and he lifted her off her feet, leaving them dangling in mid-air. One kiss, three more, fast and hard and open, kept her mouth engaged while he walked through the store with her hanging off his neck.
He bumped into a hoodie rack. “Oops.”
She smothered a laugh, which turned into a moan when he found her mouth again.
He banged his hip on the edge of a table full of folded souvenir tee shirts. “Oww.”
She giggled, hitched herself higher, giving into the need thrumming through her, and curled her legs around his waist.
“Ah, Christ. You’re killing me.” He fumbled for the nearest wall, propped her against it, and took her mouth hungrily. She fisted her hands in his hair, nipping his full bottom lip. The kiss went deeper, and she could have sobbed from the glory of it.
They broke apart, both panting. Kendall slowly unwound her legs and he loosened his hold, letting her slide down his body until her feet touched the floor. She felt every hard muscle along the way.
“Hell.” He sucked in a shaky breath. “I don’t want to leave you here.”
“I’ll be all right,” Kendall lied. She wanted him to stay, wanted him in her bed, all night, and then she wanted to awaken in the morning, safe in his arms. They’d known each other less than two months, and she wanted forever.
I must be crazed with lust. That’s the only explanation.
“You know, you don’t have to stay here alone.” He caressed her cheek as he gazed at her, still pressed intimately against her. “You could come home with me.”
“Eventually I have to live here, Denn. By myself. I have to get used to it,” she pointed out.
“But not tonight, okay? Come home with me, Kendall. Stay with me, tonight.”
“We’ll end up in bed together.” It was a question and a statement.
He slowly nodded. “Yeah.”
She whispered into his shirt, “We’ll end up making love.”
“I can just about guarantee it.”
Fascinated by the strong, steady pulse at the side of his neck, she shuddered to think of what lay ahead, if she said ‘yes.’ Most of the shudders were from excitement.
He waited patiently in her dimly lit store while she battled inner demons he might never understand or be able to accept.
Kendall . . .” His voice held a rough plea.
She took a deep breath and raised her eyes to his. “I should pack a few things.” She hesitated, and took the final plunge. “I’ll need my contact lens case, too.”
His smile, wide and happy, blinded her. “I can wait.”



  1. Congrats on the new release. Unsafe Haven sounds fantastic. Can't wait to read it to see what happens between Kendall, Denn, and Conroy. I like stories that give people a second chance to try to get their lives right. Both Kendall and Denn have had things go wrong in their pasts and it's wonderful to see them trying for better lives. Thanks for the great interview and excerpts.


    1. Thanks, Joanne! Appreciate you stopping by -

    2. Congrats, Joanne! You won the drawing for an ebook copy of UNSAFE HAVEN plus a signed copy of PROMISES TO KEEP!

      Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Hi Char! Great interview--had to laugh at your hotness scale! Unsafe Haven is already on my Kindle, so don't enter me in the giveaway. Just wanted to give a fellow CNYRWer a shout out! Much success with your new book.

    1. Thanks so much, Nona! You'll have to let me know what you think of it! So glad you dropped by -

  3. Good interview, ladies. I loved Unsafe Haven. It's such a good story, and Denn is soooo hot! Best of luck with it, Char.

    1. Thanks, Callie! And thanks for being such a wonder-CP!

  4. Great interview I love the scale... lisagk(at)yahoo(dot)com

    1. Thanks so much! Glad you got a kick out of the scale. Appreciate you stopping by!

  5. Nice interview.