Tuesday, April 28, 2009

All About Alphas 12 - Donna Alward

Today's post comes from the lovely Donna Alward.

I asked for a quote - she wrote me an essay. She said I could cut it if I wanted to.
But I didn't want to. I think she make a lot of great points - the sort of points I was hoping would come up. As Liz Fielding said yesterday, the Romance line can be misunderstood and its heroes seen as too 'soft' to be interesting.

Liz added: "Like Modern/Presents, we tend to be a much misunderstood series. Romance with "training wheels" is one description I particularly loath. I beg, very politely -- I'm a Romance author :) -- to differ. The Alpha male makes the perfect Romance hero. And the perfect Romance heroine will match him for courage, honour and passion every step of the way. "

And there are plenty of 'Romance' characteristics in the true alpha hero. But they are perhaps the ones that don't get so much publicity. And again perhaps the definitions of alpha that some readers/writers are working from are too narrow. These are some points that todays Romance writer deals with - over to you Donna

“My” Alphas….

When Kate asked me if I’d be interested in talking about alpha heroes on her blog I was momentarily stunned. Me? Alphas? But the moment passed quickly.

If you had asked me two years ago when I sold to Harlequin Romance if I could write an alpha hero, I would have laughed. I would have said, “I don’t do alphas.” You see, I was labouring under the common misapprehension that alpha = hard, brutish man. And my guys just aren’t that way.

Well thank goodness I’ve been educated. Or have a deeper understanding. Because it is not brutish, nasty behaviour that determines an alpha.

Of course there are shades of alphas, and different styles and tones of writing. My alphas will be nothing like Kate’s, and Kate’s will be different from Anne McAllister’s, and Anne’s will be different from Michelle Styles…you see where I’m going?

Kate said, in her e-mail, that my Jonas (The Soldier’s Homecoming) and Nate (Falling for Mr. Dark and Dangerous) were true alphas. After handing in 9 books for the Romance line and number 10 in the wings, I can see a few more coming your way as well. Dante Nicoletti, for example, and Noah Laramie for another.

What makes an alpha?

An alpha is a leader. He doesn’t wait for things to happen, he MAKES THINGS HAPPEN. Even if he makes a bad decision – he’ll be committed to it 100%. In Dark and Dangerous, Nate had to lie to the heroine. He hates dishonesty, but he does it because it is for her own protection….

Which brings us to another characteristic – an alpha is a protector. He can be as charming as the day is long, drive too fast, be the ultimate playboy – but when it comes to what is his, he will fight to the death to protect it. His heroine might fear the passion flaring between them, but she will never have to fear being hurt from the outside.

Alpha heroes are also aspirational. They are always looking forward to the next achievement or opportunity. They are successful because they are driven. It is not enough to rest on their laurels. And this doesn’t have to be financial gain either. It could be a cause they are dedicated to, or in the case of my Noah, he puts his energy into his recovery and rehabilitation. But they are forward thinkers. They are proactive.

Alphas might have that little bit of an edge that makes them seem sometimes hard or ruthless, but that is because they make decisions and stick to them. Alphas live life on their own terms. It makes them exciting, powerful personalities. One of the heroes I have thought a lot about lately is Darcy. When he says that his good opinion, once lost, is gone forever, that sounds cold and hard. But let’s face it – it’s also a challenge. Don’t we all love a man who’s a challenge – at least in our fiction? J And peeling back those layers to discover the heart of the man beneath is exciting. Alphas don’t like to show their vulnerabilities, which is why when they finally do reveal their “scars” to the heroine, it has such an impact. Those vulnerabilities might simply be their feelings for the heroine, or they can be something more entirely. In the last book I handed in, there is a scene where my hero is literally laid bare before the heroine. It is about as low as he can go. And her reaction changes everything.

My Romance heroes might be different from what many call “The Presents Hero”, but they’re incredibly fun to write…and those that have the greatest alpha characteristics are also the heroes I fall in love with the most!

My next book is Hired: The Italian’s Bride (June 09). Luca is definitely a playboy type – but he is also an achiever. Is he an alpha? Yes. Is he ruthless? Never. He is incredibly gentle, but he is the strong protector that Mari needs. It is that strength combined with his gentleness that makes it possible for Mari to start living again.

My next book is Hired: The Italian’s Bride (June 09).
Luca is definitely a playboy type – but he is also an achiever.
Is he an alpha? Yes.
Is he ruthless? Never. He is incredibly gentle, but he is the strong protector that Mari needs. It is that strength combined with his gentleness that makes it
possible for Mari to start living again.

Dream job - enter hot new Italian boss!

Mariella Ross has built a new life for herself at the Fiori Cascade hotel, and she isn't going to allow the new owner's devil-may-care attitude to disrupt her hard work! Even if secretly she finds Luca Fiori's laid-back charm infectious and his smile intoxicating...

Luca's showing Mari a side of life she's almost forgotten. Overcoming her dark past won't be easy, but with Luca by her side, Mari's beginning to feel like anything might be possible...


Lorraine said...

Just wanted to say thanks for all the amazing advice that's been shared in this series. It's been interesting reading different authors' opinions and very instructive!

Thanks again,


Donna Alward said...

Thanks Lorraine! I've enjoyed reading every day too.

What's good is that this has also spawned lots of discussion off-blog and yesterday it kind of occured that most heroes are alpha in one way or another. It is how they rise to the challenge, and it is the balance of how beta or gamma qualities mix with the alpha qualities.

It's all in shades. I realized today that most of my heroes tend to be of the protective strain. Even my current playboy - he is the ultimate protector, in fact. I just didn't realize it until I kept reading this discussion!

Jackie Ashenden said...

Can I just say that this is great stuff too? I came here late but have just been reading over the previous posts... All fantastic.

I'm echoing Lorraine - thanks so much for this.



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