Welcome to another Monday Magic. I’m super excited today to present my critique partner, and Soul Sista, Char Chaffin, with her wonderful soon-to-be released novel, Unsafe Haven. Let’s welcome her with a nice applause (sound of applause). Thank you. Now, I’ll let Char take over. You’re on girl!
Hi everyone, Char Chaffin present and accounted for at Callie Hutton’s fantastic Monday Magic! Callie was kind enough to host me back in January, to chat about my debut novel, Promises to Keep. Now I’m within a few weeks of releasing my second novel, Unsafe Haven. Where Promises to Keep was the culmination of many years spent writing and dreaming of being published, Unsafe Haven is a kind of celebration of the years I lived in Alaska with my family. We moved there in 1988, when our daughter Sue Ann was still in grade school, “just for a few years.” Well, “a few years” stretched into sixteen years and during our time there, I discovered I liked to write. Then I realized I wanted to write, needed to write. I also made a decision: that someday I’d write about Alaska, maybe more than once.
Having finally done so, I’ll have to set a few more novels in The Last Frontier. Alaska is one of those places so much larger than life, it would be impossible not to find plenty of inspirational story fodder.
I based Unsafe Haven in one of the most remote regions of Alaska: Southwest. If you look on a map of Alaska, the entire western area of the state is desolate and daunting. Mountains, rivers, lakes, tundra, all conspire against such “trivial” civilization necessities as roads. If you can’t drive there, you can’t live there, right? Well, not exactly. You just have to be inventive and clever. Or live in a tiny Native Alaskan village where the hardships are balanced out by the sheer beauty of your surroundings, and Mother Nature happily offers up her bounty. It also helps to know how to live off the land.
Contrarily, each year more and more tourism pours into some of the remote regions of Alaska, changing its dynamic, allowing for things like cell phones, Internet, maybe a few more roads here and there for places that in the past were completely cut off. Visitors to Alaska still want to see Anchorage and Fairbanks, Skagway, Sitka, and Juneau, the glaciers, Prince William Sound. But they’ll also come to the villages if they can find a way to get there. My fictional village of Staamat is such a place: a cross between modern and traditional, predominantly Native Alaskan but with other ethnicities settling and experiencing the wonders as well as the difficulties of life in the Arctic.
My heroine, Kendall, uses Alaska as a way to escape her own personal nightmare, but finds herself renewed when settling in Staamat nets her the attention of Denn Nulo, the Chief of Stammat’s tiny yet effective police force. Native Alaskan and all man, Denn falls for Kendall instantly, but here is a woman whose past flares up in the form of nightmares and flashbacks. She wants Denn but she’s very, very leery. Until she feels completely safe in her new home, romance might just have to take a back seat. But Denn is as persuasive as he is charming, and Kendall allows herself to love him, just as the monster from her previous life finds out where she’s been hiding.
Often considered the last bastion of true freedom in America, Alaska affords its residents the opportunity to live their own lives unfettered by some of society’s more restrictive customs. You’ll find some real characters thriving there, and a few of them found their way into my story. Characters like Bear and Old Man Fake are patterned after real folks I met while living in Alaska.
I never did meet anyone exactly like Denn Nulo while I was in Fairbanks. But I saw bits of him, here and there, during those sixteen years I called Alaska my home. A smile, a turn of the head, the light in a pair of amber eyes, a brush of dense black, shoulder-length hair over broad shoulders. The nobility and pride that comes with understanding and embracing a rich heritage, a willingness to move forward . . . I saw that, too. Intelligence, fortitude, determination, love of family and fellow man. All of it I drew on when I sat down at my keyboard and fleshed out my hero.
I also had a lot of fun crafting Conroy Herington, my handsome but nasty villain. And I discovered, as I wrote him, how much fun sociopaths can be to write. You can have them do anything, get away with untold horrors, and not suffer a moments’ guilt over it.
In Kendall, I wanted a damaged young woman strong enough to escape and start anew, who finds out along the way she’s a lot braver than she ever thought she could be. Her survival instinct is so much a part of who she is, and her reluctant attraction to, and love for Denn is what helps her fight for the life she sees within reach. Hers is a journey I think many of us can relate to.
Maybe I could have set a story like this anywhere in America, but in my heart I know only Alaska could do it justice.
Unsafe Haven will release in late August, from Soul Mate Publishing, and then Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I hope you’ll read Kendall’s and Denn’s story, and when you do, that you’ll enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Thanks again, Callie, fellow Soul Mate sister and CP extraordinaire!
In addition to writing, Char is also an editor for Soul Mate Publishing.
A native New Yorker, Char 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 United States 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.
As Char’s critique partner, I’ve had the privilege of reading Unsafe Haven, and can assure you all to get ready to buy a fabulous story. Murder, mayhem, betrayal, love, passion, hot hero, funny teenager, beautiful scenery, Unsafe Haven has it all.
Thanks for being with us today, Char. I know Unsafe Haven will be a huge hit.