Today, I’m dancing a jig at the thought of discussing the kind of men (at least fictional men) many of us like most. That’s right, today’s interview with author Jami Alden is all about the A-Man, the alpha male. What’s essential in this type of character and how should writers construct him? Jami will answer those questions and more.
Thanks for being with us today, Jami!
Kelsey: Could you define the alpha male/hero for our readers?
Jami: I follow a pretty standard definition: a hero who is a natural leader, one who doesn’t necessarily know all of the answers, but is wicked smart and confident in his abilities as a problem solver to figure his way out of a tough spot. He tends not to be superficially emotional. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t care deeply, it just means he doesn’t spend a lot of time sitting around, talking about his feelings. He’s single-minded and goal oriented, which can sometimes cause him to come off as brusque and insensitive. Physically, he’s imposing, tall, strong, athletically fit, and generally hotter and sexier than the average guy
Kelsey: What is the most common trait among alpha males?
Jami: I would have to say confidence. A true alpha is a man who is confident in his ability to overcome challenges and face down the odds. That doesn’t mean he automatically knows the answer or thinks he’s always right, it means that he knows his own abilities, is smart enough to know his limitations and capabilities, and brave enough to take extreme risks when necessary. He’s the guy who can overcome almost any obstacle no matter what form the obstacle takes.
Kelsey: Are all your heroes alphas?
Jami: Yes. I love reading Alphas, and for me, there’s something really sexy about a man who can take charge of a situation. I’m going to sound so anti-feminist here, but there’s something so appealing about offloading everything onto a pair of big broad shoulders and saying, “Why don’t you just handle it?” and having absolute confidence that it will indeed be handled!
Kelsey: What’s your process for constructing an alpha character?
Jami: Wow, I have no idea! I guess I have a construct based on the characteristics I mentioned, and then I add the finish work to round out his personality. Is he a strong, silent type, or quick witted and ready with a snappy comeback? Does he linger in the shadows observing the crowd, or does he swagger into a room and take it over? It’s all that finish work that’s the fun, but also challenging part.
Kelsey: Any trait that’s a “must have?”
Jami: I’m so cliché, but for me, aside from the confidence and intelligence that I mentioned, my heroes have to be physically imposing and attractive, even if it’s not in a conventional way. I like my heroes big, muscular, with chiseled features, big appetites, - testosterone overload all the way! My favorite heroes are those whose outside strength matches their inner strength.
Kelsey: What type of heroine do you typically pair with an alpha hero?
Jami: Well, every alpha, no matter how perfect, has a flaw, so I try to choose a heroine who’s going to hit him right in that weak spot! For example, in my latest book, Unleashed, I have a hero, Danny, who’s very smart, very strong, very no nonsense. At the same time, he’s totally emotionally closed off. He thinks love is nothing but an excuse people use for their dumb decisions. So I paired him with Caroline, his ex girlfriend, the only woman he ever loved, the woman who broke his heart, the only woman who knows just how vulnerable to love Danny can be.
Kelsey: Do you have any tips for writing the alpha hero?
Jami: First and foremost, don’t force it. If you don’t love reading alpha heroes, and you don’t love the idea of an alpha hero, you won’t be able to write one with conviction. You have to fall in love with your hero before anyone else can. Other than that, my biggest tip is watch your language and be careful about your word choice. When you’re in the hero’s POV, ask yourself, “would any straight man actually use this word or phrase to describe what he’s thinking or feeling?”
Kelsey: Could you suggest resources or authors that our readers might use to learn to write the alpha hero?
Jami: I personally think Linda Howard writes fantastic alpha heroes, as does Shannon McKenna. I also love Julie Garwood’s older historicals – she was so great at writing Alpha heroes who weren’t at all cruel, just products of their time and cluelessness! I also think it’s a great idea, no matter what subgenre you write in, to watch male oriented movies and TV programs. A few I can think of off the top of my head are Black Hawk Down, Rescue Me
RU readers, do you have questions about how to write a believable alpha male your readers can fall in love with? Also – who are your favorite A-Men?
Please stop back by on Friday when author Therese Walsh is here to chat about the differences between romance and women’s fiction.
Jami Alden is the Holt Medallion nominated author sexy romantic suspense. Her latest novel, Unleashed, is the third installment in the successful Gemini Men trilogy published by Kensington Brava. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her socially well adjusted alpha male husband, her sons, and a german shepherd who patiently listens to dialog and help her work out plot points. You can find out more about Jami and her books at www.JamiAlden.com
- AMM: Why We Love (and Resent) Alpha Males
- Beta Males: Hidden Gems?
- Looking for “The One”…or Not
- What Makes a Great Blaze Hero: The Four S’s
- AMM: A Male Author Writing Under A Female Pseudonym