Genre Talk

Genre Talk: I Heart Alphas, Too

Updated hunter by night-300Some of us here at Paranormal Unbound are very committed to our beta heroes. AJ Larrieu has even had “beta heroes do it better” buttons made.

I wear one with pride.

See, I started my Chronicles of Yavn series knowing I loved vampires, and the vampires (and their authors) who had made me fall in love with romance were all big, shit-talking, ass-kicking alphas. I wasn’t sure I could write that kind of alpha male, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to. The alpha vampire warrior had been done, and done well. Lara Adrian’s Lucan Thorne? Ward’s Brothers? I didn’t want to try to reinvent the wheel.

So even though I was inspired to write vampire fighters in the spirit of the books that had made me love romance—a genre I had stopped reading for almost fifteen years—I started out with an alpha/beta leader. Truthfully, one who was sometimes more beta than alpha. I gave him dead parents, more responsibility than he could handle, and a supposedly fated mate who was actively running the other way. Poor Thad. My king in King of Darkness didn’t know which way was forward, and writing him really took us both on an adventure.

My next hero, in Prince of Power, skewed even more toward beta. With his tortured past, and his propensity for evil, he could have easily built himself some very powerful armor. But doing so would have meant turning toward his dark side. He would have lost the woman he loved because they came from opposing sides.

Truthfully, I loved writing these more alternate heroes because I could relate to what made them loveable. An alpha male is sexy on paper, but in that place where we need a teensy dose of reality with our fiction, I wonder if they’re believable? I married a beta. Don’t get me wrong, he’s all man. If I try to talk something out, he starts firing solutions at me. And God help us all if I try to speak with him in-depth during football (the shouting can be heard for miles). But he’d never be the type to bulldoze over my feelings or to lay down the it’s my way or the highway stuff. Still, he’s been my hero more times than I can count.

I gotta be honest, there’s a part of me that envisioned most alphas as assholes. I think there’s even a phrase for it. Alpha-hole? Anyway, I’m not saying I’m right, I’m saying it’s a perception under which I’ve labored.

Thing is, recently I had to confront that perception. The final book in my Chronicles of Yavn trilogy features a hero who always, always carried himself with a whole lot of take-no-shit attitude, and I knew when the time came I’d have to confront my feelings about alphas, because Lee was one in no uncertain terms. Moreover, he has an antagonistic history with his heroine. In Prince of Power, he literally throws her over his shoulder. She responds by kicking him in the balls.

I was afraid I couldn’t make him a nice guy, that I couldn’t make him romantic.

Honestly? I think Hunter by Night turned out to be the most romantic book of the trilogy.

Lee is a vampire who hates humans, paired with a human heroine. A diminutive female who brings out his desire to protect, who doesn’t want to be protected. When I was able to really drill into his backstory and see the ways that they were so different and at the same time so perfect together—how Alexia was the one person who could get through Lee’s armor and into the emotions inside, I fell so in love with him. So in love with them as a couple.

Lee’s fingers dug into her arms. His vision blurred.

“For fuck’s sake… you matter. If I didn’t give a shit, you wouldn’t drive me so fucking crazy.”

Her eyes widened. “I make you crazy?”

“Completely, certifiably insane.”

I remember hearing the advice from a famous writer, and I wish I remembered which famous writer, that the trick is you have to be in love with your character. And maybe that’s it. Lee and I hadn’t gotten to know each other enough yet, and until we did, until I loved my alpha as much as my betas, I couldn’t find his emotions, his soft spots, or the special quirks that would make it possible for me to write him the way I needed to.

I still heart my beta heroes, and I wish they got more respect and love. But I guess I’ve decided now I heart my alphas, too. 🙂

About Hunter by Night:

She wants out

Party girl Alexia Blackburn is only hanging around the vampire compound until her best friend—the queen—has her baby. After that, nothing is going to stop Alexia from getting back to daylight, safety, and feeling like a normal human being. But leaving the vampire world has one big catch…

He needs her to stay

Head of vampire security Lee Goram has hated and distrusted humans for centuries. Feeding on vampire blood has kept him strong…but now it’s killing him—and he’s horrified to discover that Alexia may hold the key to his cure. He’d rather die defending his king than admit his weakness, but time is running out for the great vampire warrior…

 

Coming June 3, 2014

book cover
book cover
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10 thoughts on “Genre Talk: I Heart Alphas, Too

  1. I’m about 50 pages into Lee’s book and already it is intense in the most amazing way. Damn those real life responsibilities that keep pulling me away from this book. The first two were great as well, but this one feels different. I think it is the alpha hero thing. I’m only about 50 pages in…I can’t even imagine what is to come, but I know I don’t want it to end! 🙂

    • Aww, so glad to hear you’re enjoying Hunter by Night, Heather!! I do feel like Lee’s book has a different quality to it, even though I think each book of the series is special in its own way. maybe there really is something about those alphas, after all. 😉

  2. Ok, first, I want a ‘beta heroes do it better” button!!!! That is way cool!
    Next, I love how you explained your relationship with Lee…how you got to know him better and understand this alpha male….it was very sound advice you received from that author. It makes sense that you would have to love your character in order to do him/her justice and make them pop off the page. But, in all honesty, when I read Prince of Darkness, I loved Lee as soon as I met him. Don’t get me wrong, Thad was great, but Lee stole my heart. I guess I had faith that you would make his book special, and after reading your take on the feelings you had, I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that you feel this is the best of the series! I can’t wait!!!

    • Thanks, Phyllis! I have a special affection for every character I’ve ever written, from Doctor Brayden, to Michael’s jealous ex-wife, in One Week. I always knew Lee would be special–when I sat down to write King of Darkness, he spoke before Thad did! (you’ll notice the opening line of King of Darkness is Lee’s voice) But I think you’ll see what I mean when you read his story; once I really knew what made him tick, why he didn’t like humans, why he isolated himself the way he did, it wasn’t just easier to love him but to give him the happy ending he so deserved. 🙂

  3. Hi Elisabeth,
    Great post! Sigh I know what you mean. Beta’s are so much fun to write and I think that’s why we get so attached to them and love them just that little bit more.

    I haven’t read you yet but have just downloaded Prince of Power and King of Darkness and pre-odered Hunter by Night. Looking forward to them. That TBR pile is growing to unimaginable proportions. 🙂

    Smiles,
    Efthalia

    • Aww, thank you, Efthalia! I so hope you enjoy! Beta heroes are truly special and I’m happy to meet more people who write them. 🙂 I have an ever-growing TBR pile myself, but they say the key to being a good writer is reading a lot. At least, that’s what i use as my excuse. 😉

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