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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

GUEST BLOGGER: Alpha Males by Adrienne Giordano

I love a good alpha male. The nice ones. Not the mean ones. The nice ones give those around them a sense of stability, an assurance that whatever comes at them, they'll deal with it in a direct and concise manner and if anyone wants to get in their way, they should prepare to get run over.

Alpha males don't like people standing in their way.

I grew up surrounded by alpha males, which is probably why I have such a soft spot for them. I'm a Jersey girl from a large Italian family. Need I say more? Family gatherings with my father's siblings could have been the annual alpha convention. And I'm not talking about just the men either. The females weren't about to take any prisoners either. My father was what I call an alpha-on-steroids. A master storyteller, he was loud and funny and had a temper that sometimes ran hot. Speaking of that temper, it wasn't a shocker for him to pull to the side of the road and kick the crap out of a guy who had flipped him the bird. I can attest to this. I witnessed it.

Back then, it wasn't so fun. Now though, I laugh because the non-alphas of the world would probably have considered my dad a madman. Heck, there were times I thought he was a madman. On the flip side, my father was generous to a fault and would give his enemy his last dollar.

In my own writing, I try to give my alpha characters qualities that off-set their overbearing ways. Most people can accept flaws in characters if there are compelling reasons to like them. Did they jump in front of a bus to save a child? Buy meals for the homeless? It could be something as simple as holding a door open for an elderly woman, but for me, a good alpha has to have a tender side.

As a reader, I love when books have alpha heroes who constantly surprise me. Maybe the author has given the hero a fear of worms or cats. Something incredibly ordinary to humanize him and make him vulnerable. That's the good stuff because I always want to know why they have this fear.

As a writer, I find it makes for great fun to throw a character smack against his biggest fear. Is he afraid of spiders? Why not lock him in a room with a bunch of them and see how he gets out? Afraid of heights? Make him jump out of an airplane. Love. It.

Also important is giving alphas traits that set them apart from each other. I find this is important to avoid "cookie-cutter" characters.

The hero in my upcoming release is a government assassin. Vic is a loner who has no idea how to communicate with women on an intimate level. He is most definitely an alpha, but not a chest-bumpy alpha. Threaten someone he loves though, and he'll get as chest-bumpy as he needs to be. He will stop at nothing to protect his loved ones.

The hero in my September release? He's an alpha-on-steroids. A total control freak. If someone needs rescuing, call Monk and he'll find a way. Fast. He is the "daddy" of the group, a caretaker who can't resist getting into everyone's business. For him, I tried to balance his over-the-top alpha tendencies with his need to always make things right. He may be aggressive, but he wants justice. Always.

Another strong-willed personality I thoroughly enjoyed developing was Michael, the hero in my third release. He's more of an incognito-alpha. He'll get things done, but he likes to use his brain rather than his fists. He won't back away from a fight, but he doesn't necessarily look for one either. I paired him with an alpha female who runs a major daily newspaper and has no use for a man she can push around. Part of the fun with Michael was putting him into situations with Roxann and watching them blow up on him because he assumed he would be in charge.

Chances are I won't stop writing alphas anytime soon. Whether it be the hero or the heroine, I will most likely have alphas somewhere, facing something that terrifies them. Because really, I think it's a whole lot of fun to watch someone conquer something they fear will bring them down.

What about you? How do you feel about alpha heroes/heroines? Do you have a favorite alpha character from a book or movie?

Adrienne's Bio: Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and women's fiction. She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Chicago area with her work-a-holic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaton Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog. Adrienne's books have been finalists in the 2008, 2009 and 2011 Linda Howard Award of Excellence contests. Her debut romantic suspense, Man Law, will be released by Carina Press on July 4, 2011. Her second book, A Just Deception, will be available from Carina Press in September 2011. For more information please visit

Here are my Facebook and Twitter links.


MaureenAMiller said...

I think of Indiana Jones and his fear of snakes.

Good post, Adrienne. I too was a Jersey girl and I went to school with many alpha males. :)

Adrienne Giordano said...

LOL, Maureen. There is something about the East Coast. They breed alphas there.

I forgot about Indy and his snakes. That's a good one. Ugh, that scene where there are thousands of snakes. That still gives me the shivers.

Clare London said...

As a writer of male/male, I have the fun potential of writing TWO alpha males *lol*.

Your guys sound great, Adrienne! There's no denying we love our alpha males, but you're right, there has to be something gentle and/or sympathetic to counteract the posturing. And then we readers are completely lost to them :).

Thanks for a great post!

Toni Anderson said...

The hero of STORM WARNING is scared of water, scared as in phobic. So I sent him to a small coastal fishing village in Scotland where he was surrounded by the stuff.
My father is also an alpha male, they aren't easy to love but you just can't help it :)

Marcelle Dubé said...

Hi Adrienne -- Welcome to Not Your Usual Suspects!

Your Alpha heroes sound like fun, although I'd rather read about them than have to deal with them.

Carrie said...

morning Adrienne! what a great post...made me laugh about your alpha male family, although at the time I suppose it wasn't so funny to a teen girl! I love to give my heroes little fears (fear of his blackberry for example) it gives them a HUMAN side....=)

Kelsey Browning said...

Good morning, Adrienne!

You know how much I love your alpha male characters. So far, Vic's my favorite (soon to be out in Man Law!). But I have a feeling Billy is going to give Vic a run for his money.

As for alphas in other books, I have to confess a crush on Wrath from JR Ward's vampire stories. He's blind, but that doesn't impact his alpha-ness one darn bit!


Adrienne Giordano said...

Clare, God bless you! I think two alphas would put me over the edge. They'd spend all day trying to prove who was the alpha dog.

Adrienne Giordano said...

Toni, I love the idea of surrounding your hero with water. Fabulous!

And you're right about living with alphas. The thing I've learned is to pick my battles. Some things are just not worth arguing with an alpha over. LOL.

Adrienne Giordano said...

Marcelle, the fact that I don't have to live with my alpha characters is part of the fun. I know I'd have to slap all of them at one time or another.:)

Adrienne Giordano said...

Hello, Carrie! Thanks for stopping by, girlfriend.

A fear of the Blackberry! That is priceless. I'd love for my husband to have that fear.:)

This may shock you, but I have a fear of the Blackberry. I have my basic little phone that does the job quite well, thank you.

Adrienne Giordano said...

Hi, Kels!

I know you love Vic. You kept me sane while I was trying to find a home for his challenging self. LOL.
Billy has a little of Vic in him. His biggest problem is he can't keep his mouth shut. That's proving to be a lot of fun.

I'll have to check out the JR Ward stories. I love the idea of a blind alpha. That would be amazing.

Thanks for stopping by.

L. j. Charles said...

Hey, Adrienne.

Since I write YA, my alpha male is younger, and his strength comes from holding his own against a slayer girlfriend. And then there's the little matter that he tunes into demon emotions and still stays sane. A strong young man, and definitely alpha.

I love all of your "men," and am very excited for the release of Man Law. But like Kelsey, I'm really looking forward to Billy's story.

Great post!

J Wachowski said...

Hey Adrienne!

How many of us Alpha lovers have Alpha Dads? I'd love to do a secret survey sometime.

I totally agree--if they don't have a soft spot somewhere, Alpha guys can end up coming off as bullies no one would like. But the East coast has no lock on breeding Alpha. (says the Midwest girl)

Can't wait to read more about your men. They sounds like fun!


Anne Marie Becker said...

Love torturing my alpha heroes! LOL I tend to like the quiet, brooding type.

Although, when you asked about favorite alpha characters, Bruce Willis in Die Hard came to mind. He's got such a sense of humor and wit and I love, love, love those qualities in a man. :)

Adrienne Giordano said...

Lucie J! Another one of my fabulous critique partners. I love your alphas. They're more subtle, but they definitely have that take charge personality. I think we all need to develop a chart that has different categories of alpha characters. That would be a hoot.

Thanks for popping by!

Grace said...

I've always had a fondness for alpha heroes,even though I'm afraid they'd probably drive me crazy if I had to live with one. (Too alpha myself.) And I like the idea of challenging them with something they truly fear. Not a Jersey girl, by the way, but will Connecticut do?

Grace Kone, w. a. Blair Bancroft

Adrienne Giordano said...

Hi, Julie. That would be some survey! I'm imagining the questions and it's making me laugh.

You're right, the Midwest is not immune to alphas. I have two of them living in my house. One of them is only 10, but he's most definitely an alpha.

Thanks for commenting!

Adrienne Giordano said...

Hi Anne Marie. Bruce Willis is awesome. He's definitely an alpha in my book. I loved him in RED last year. Funny stuff.

Thanks for stopping by!

Adrienne Giordano said...

Hi Grace. Living with an alpha isn't easy, that's for sure! The twisted part of me loves to watch them work though. LOL. There's just something about certain people that when they walk into a room--BAM!--you know they're the alpha. It really is fascinating.

Thanks for stopping in!

Rita said...

My heroes are more of the get ‘er done type. Stay out of their way and you’re fine. My heroines know what they want and go after it. They want a man who will stand with them shoulder to shoulder. They have hidden hurts they struggle to overcome. One heroine has a fear of being sliced with a knife. She is an expert swordsmen. Loves beautiful blades and would as soon cut ya as look at ya.
Shrug. What can I say?

Ruth said...

I loved hearing about your Dad. Mine was a short little Jewish man who could tell a story and charm your socks off. He told a good joke too. He was a quiet aleph-man (Hebrew for 'A'). OK, so the funny gene didn't get passed on to me. Anyway, when he was serious, we all listened.

My hero is a 17th century alpha male dealing with a 21st century alpha female. I loved making those sparks fly.

I really enjoyed your post, Adrienne

Adrienne Giordano said...

Hi Rita. Those sound like my kind of heroines! I love strong heroines. Particularly when they are paired with equally strong partners. Makes for some fun reading!

Adrienne Giordano said...

Hi Ruth. Yes, my dad was a handful. My mother has a ton patience!

Your story sounds like a hoot. I'd enjoy reading that combination!

Dee J. said...

Hi Adrienne,

(Or should I say, my release day buddy...)

Great post. I live with a New York alpha. I'm from Texas so not so much the wallflower. We keep it interesting here in Los Angeles. I do the same thing with my heros... make them do the thing they hate most. Isn't it horrible how we torture our characters? But doesn't it make for good reading?

Adrienne Giordano said...

Hi Dee (Release Buddy! LOL) Sorry I missed your comment last night. Was out for the evening.

As a reader, I love to see characters put through the ringer. One of my favorites is what Lisa Gardner did to poor Bobby Dodge. At one point I sat back and said "This poor man, what else can she do to him?" He's one of my favorite characters.

Judy Dawn said...

Adrienne,it's been a while since I've read your alpha males. But, they are my favorite to date.

As far as alpha females, well, they are just as fun as the males sometimes.

I enjoyed the post.

Toni Anderson said...

Adrienne, thanks so much for joining us at NYUS!!!

Elise Warner said...

Sounds as if your family inspires you and is a great family to be part of. Alpha with sensitivity--what could be better?

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