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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Alpha Heroes and Heroines

    I’m constantly asked about the heroes and heroines in Under Fire and Under Fire: The Admiral being alphas and how I make it work. Recently a friend and fellow author who’d read Under Fire asked me the same question. She said she rarely connected with an alpha heroine but she connected with my heroine immediately.  Yeah! Yippee! And a back flip. (if I could do one) 
   I had to think hard before I could answer.  Honestly, I don’t think of my  H&H as alphas.  My definition of alpha is kickass, take no prisoners, do what it takes to get the job done no matter how many people are used and abused. No matter how many bodies are stepped over and left behind, the protagonist doesn’t care a flying fig.  
   I prefer to say my H&H in the two Under Fire books are strong. They are certainly kickass. He, Rico, is a deep undercover DEA agent.  He’s been under cover so long the line between the job and who he pretends to be is blurring. She, Olivia, is a Coast Guard helicopter pilot. Her job is drug interdictions along the Florida coast.  Her flying skills are above average as are her hand-to-hand fighting skills.  They are both fiercely independent because they’ve suffered crushing hurts and don’t want to let anyone to close.
In Under Fire: The Admiral, the heroine is the Admiral. The hero is a heavy on the testosterone doctor. She saves him from drug traffickers and he saves her form herself.      
   When these Heroes and Heroines come together to get the job done they each have their own ideas and there is a lot of compromise.  Except in the bedroom.  Without hesitation, they leave some bodies behind. But, don’t worry,  they are all the bad guys.
   They stand shoulder to shoulder. Accepting of each other.  They fill in each other’s blanks. Never once asking the other to give up anything. 
   I perceive women though out history to have this independence and strength.  Their men went off to wars and didn’t come back for years. Those women ran the farms and businesses. Could weak women endure dangerous ocean crossings to come to the new world?  Think about the settling of America. Women were there, even if many historians want to ignore them. They crossed the county in wagon trains through heat and snow just like the men. They have been part of battles in every war this country has partaken in.  The first and only woman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor, Mary Walker, was a surgeon during the Civil War. The medal was rescinded in 1916. The Army purged its files to reduce what they thought were "unwarranted" issues of medals.  But, it was said the real reason was CongressMEN were upset Mary wore pants while operating on wounded men. Really? She was asked several times to return the medal and refused wearing it every day until her death. Congress reinstated it to her in 1976.
Spring forward to WWII when women stepped into men’s jobs still maintaining homes. Women pilots ferried newly built planes (planes built by women) to the fronts. Many lost their lives to enemy fire. It wasn’t until 1977 these amazing women were afforded veterans status.
   Nancy grace Augusta wake also known as the "White Mouse" was one of the most decorated secret agents of the second world war. She saved hundreds of Allied lives, parachuted behind enemy lines, dodged bullets many times, rode a bicycle 250 miles to alert the French resistance to the Normandy invasion, was involved in ambushing German convoys, destroying bridges, and railway lines. All of the above earned her the number one spot on the Gestapo's most wanted list
   I look around me and see women who are wives and single mothers, maintaining homes, caring for children, working outside the home, being caregivers to aging or ill family members. On top of it all, they eek out time to write romance novels.  These are the real life strong heroines I model my story heroines after.  If some consider them alpha, kickass, strong, killers-chicks so be it.  
   So how do you define an alpha character? 
   Have you read Under Fire? Do you think my heroine is an alpha or an extraordinary woman?


Wynter Daniels said...

I love your definition of alpha heroines! It takes a whole lot of kickass to be a single mom and a career woman. What a great post!

Karen Snelling said...

Rita, GREAT post! I think your heroine is both alpha and an amazing woman! As are many of the women overlooked in today's society because they work quietly (some not so quietly) behind the scenes. You do all of us women proud! Go Girl!

Rita said...

Wynter it really is how I feel. Don't know how these gals do it.

Rita said...

Thank you Karen. So nice to see you here.I agree, even today women are overlooked.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Hey, alphas need love, too! :) And I do love reading about them. Such a tough exterior, but they're motivated by some inner drive to do what they do. It's discovering that soft, gooey interior that keeps me reading.

Clare London said...

What a great homage to heroines! To me, alpha means a leader and a carer mixed in together - a perfect description of so many brave and exciting women. Your book does them justice! :)

Rita said...

Anne Marie, Yeah gooey interiors. My huband was a marine I was stunned to learn his troopies were teriffied of him. My big ole soft hearted guy?

Rita said...

Thanks Clare. I have so many examples.

Toni Anderson said...

Great post, Rita. I am sad to say I didn't know about Under Fire: The Admiral (now rectified), but think the H/h in your first book are strong strong characters. I am glad you brought up all those amazing women. War isn't easy on anyone, but some people seem to thrive and show extreme bravery under pressure and I don't think gender has anything to do with it.

Rita said...

Toni it just seems women step up and deal with the mess men make of the world.

Maureen A. Miller said...

Great post, Rita. Alpha is a term tossed around and never really clarified as well as you have stated. I agree that 'alpha' is a woman who is strong and capable of taking on any hurdle thrown her way. And how many hurdles do we face during any given day!?

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