Friday, May 30, 2014

Talking Alpha Male characters with Morticia Knight

Do Men Always Have to Be Alpha in Romance?

The studly Alpha-Male archetype – he is a staple in Romance Fiction, and for good reason. Who doesn’t want to fantasize about a powerful, sexy man in control of their desire, protecting them, masculine in every way? It certainly sold a lot of EL James books. 

Since I write gay romance, that doesn’t always work – although it can. What it boils down to are the individual characters themselves. An author can work within archetypes when developing the MC’s, but it can be too easy to fall into cardboard cut-outs. Typical. Boring. One-dimensional. If the main love interests in the story aren’t multi-faceted beings with their own specific quirks, likes, dislikes and ways of doing and reacting to things, then it’s easy to lose the reader’s interest. 

A character can be Alpha, but he also has to be so many other things as well. He can even be obnoxious and hard to love, as long as the top layers get peeled off and the soft spots are revealed. What is it about the guy that makes someone very different fall in love with him? Does he volunteer at the soup kitchen, but keeps it carefully hidden from anyone he knows? Maybe the love interest he’s already alienated spots him there and is intrigued by this undiscovered side to a man he thought was a total bastard.

In Secret Fire (Uniform Encounters 5), Fire Marshall Daryl is one helluva grumpy man. He’s also quite Alpha and very sexy in a rough and ready kind of way. He’s been alone since he caught his partner cheating, and he’s pretty much sworn off relationships. Policeman Zach is a fun-loving guy, and doesn’t think Daryl would make a very good prospect, even if one of their mutual friends keeps insisting to Zach that he should give Daryl a try. Finally, Daryl does something that allows Zach to see that there’s more to the Marshall than he’d thought.
Excerpt from Secret Fire (Uniform Encounters 5)
What the hell happened?
Zach had a raging headache and the light hurt his eyes, so he’d given up trying to look around and kept them closed. Different images flashed in his mind, all filtered through a fog. A loud boom and his cruiser being littered with the wreckage of the machine shop. A man with his shirt on fire. Searing smoke going down his throat, the sharp pain in his shoulder as he’d dragged a victim to safety. Blood being drawn, oxygen masks, X-rays, an ER doctor Zach sort of remembered as being Terrence’s partner.
He’d been by his van when Daryl had helped him, insisted he come to the hospital. Daryl had practically carried him to the gurney and set him on it.
What was that all about?
It was difficult to reconcile the jerk he’d left behind at the park with the compassionate and concerned man who had insisted he seek treatment. He could also swear he’d heard him say something about them getting a beer.
Obviously, I’m delirious.
He opened one eye just enough to see that he was out of the ER and in a room. The mask was still on and he began to wonder how long he’d been there. He needed to pee pretty bad, so he tried to lift his head from the pillow to sit up. He groaned as a sharp jab of pain shot through his skull.
“What the hell are you trying to do? Lie your ass back down.”
The fuck?
The push of a hand against his good shoulder caused him to open both eyes. He drank in the sight of Daryl leaning over him, his brow furrowed as he stared down at him.
“What are you doing here?”
It had barely come out as more than a whisper. His throat felt as though someone had smoothed the inside of it with heavy duty sandpaper.
“Making sure you’re following doctor’s orders.”
“I gotta take a piss.”
There was a tickle in his throat and he swallowed a couple of times to keep from dissolving into a spasm of coughing. However, it was next to impossible without any spit. He choked a little, and Daryl picked up the plastic container of water the hospital had provided, extending it to him. With Daryl’s help, he swung his legs out of bed so he could sit up and take a drink. Moving the mask aside, Zach then clamped onto the straw and took several swallows as Daryl held the large cup.
Zach couldn’t make eye contact with him—the whole thing was too awkward. He noticed the cold of the floor, which he could feel through the funny little bed socks someone had placed on his feet. The room was also somewhat chilly. And his bladder screamed for mercy. He let go of the straw, and Daryl set the water down on the nightstand.
Grabbing the metal railing, he began to push off the bed, forgetting all about the oxygen mask still half on his face. He became tangled in plastic tubing running to an IV pole. He saw that it was attached to the back of his hand.
“All right, that’s enough. Hold on and I’ll help you.”
Why does he have to be here right now with me like this?
The whole thing struck Zach as strange—and embarrassing. It had him jumbled up inside. He was confused as to why Daryl—of all people—was tending to him and why he was so concerned about not being at his best in front of him. Daryl had his arm around his waist, and helped pull him up.
“I got it from here, I’m good. Thanks.”
Zach stumbled a bit and Daryl grasped him harder.
“Sure you do.”
A slight draft reminded Zach that he was decked out in an open-back hospital gown and he clutched at it to close it up.
“Relax. I’ve seen tighty whities before.”
“Yeah, but you haven’t seen mine.”
“That’s a damn shame to be sure.” There was a slight cough from Daryl and Zach was sure he’d let that comment slip out unexpectedly.
He chanced a look at Daryl, but the man steadfastly kept his head down as if he were focused solely on helping Zach to the bathroom and nothing more. As if it were perfectly natural for them to be together the way they were.
I swear, if anyone I knew were to pop in right now…

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