Monday, March 19, 2007

Canadian Alphas

Posted by Lois Greiman

Several months ago Helen and I agreed to speak at a ‘Get Romanced’ workshop sponsored by the Manitoba Writers Guild. I think I can speak for both of us when I say we don’t get an overabundance of romancing these days, and although Winnipeg isn’t exactly thought to be the epicenter of all things sexy, we headed north…for seven hours, through my native tundra of North Dakota, across the border (where they didn’t feel a need to strip search us or anything) and on to friendly Manitoba. The directions were ‘drive north until you come to a fork in the road. Then take a right.’

And I’m so glad we did, because we met some amazing people. The writers who attended the workshops, both aspiring and published, were enthusiastic and talented (we plan to see several of them on the best sellers lists soon). The city was environmentally…if not literally… green, and the guild members were spectacular.

We were introduced to the lovely Millennium Library, fed East Indian fare until we couldn’t waddle, and escorted from television interviews to radio talk shows like visiting royalty.
So forget all those tedious locales like Nepal and Paris for future novels. From hence forth I decree that all my books be set in the Peg, filled with characters who say ‘aye’ and ‘aboot’, and starred in by heroes far too amusing to be alpha. So thanks: Kathleen, Robin, Jim, and Jamis.

But this brings me to one of the topics that kept repeatedly popping up over the week-end: Alpha versus Beta. If you could choose the hero in your romance novels which would it be? Super-alpha like Gerard Butler who played Leonidas in the movie 300, or house-trained beta like…say…Hugh Grant from Music and Lyrics?

Now…how about in your kitchens? Same thing, or would you choose someone entirely if you actually had to live with the man?

Chime in please; I have about 37 seconds before I have to start my next book and I need a hero STAT.


Betina Krahn said...

Lois, I always LOVE your blogs! They're so much fun and give us something to noodle!

I'm probably going to be in the minority here, but I'm not thrilled about the either/or nature of heroes. I like my heroes like I like my men. . . crunchy and even a bit crusty on the outside (alpha) and soft and gooey on the inside (beta). In my personal life I tend to go "Beta with a fetish for housework."

However, the "Beta" I refer to is the same as the exotic Beta fish. . . which swims happily in its little glass bowl looking delicate and pretty. . . until you put another bowl carrying another Beta right beside it. . . and it gets mad as snort and starts ramming the glass, trying to get to and fight the other Beta. Placid, delicate little fish one minute, puffed up, territorial warrior fish the next.

I remember being shocked (SHOCKED) the first time I saw the late hubby really get angry-- it was like beholding the HULK. Scary and a little unreal. Fortunately he seldom got angry. The financee is pretty even tempered, too, and LOVES cooking eggs for breakfast and is fastidious about the laundry. But I saw him irritated the other day at some "P.O.S." who put a small scratch on his car and fled.

OOOOOOOooooooo. Note to self: Don't want to mess with the man's wheels!

Keri Ford said...

According to my husband, I'm a "frickin' handful". In which I sweetly reply, you knew that when you married me.(big grin). So, my husband is Beta with Alpha tendencies. Which suits me just fine. If we were both Alphas, the house would be a headache to come home to everyday.

I like to read about Alpha heros, because they're closer to my personality, so there's an immediate connection there. On the other hand, I also enjoy reading about Beta with bits of Alpha, because well, that's what I married!

Michele said...

A adore Beta with Alpha tendencies. I think I married an Alpha with Beta tendencies. It sort of evens out. I'm cool with it.

For heroes? I adore writing an 18th century fop Beta that has a smidge of Alpha. Or even an Alpha disguised as a Beta (a la Scarlet Pimpernel). But for modern day, I think most of my recent heroes have been Alphas. Not sure why...oh yeah, my editor told me I had to write alphas for Nocturne. I still don't know if I'm on the mark wtih them, but it is interesting learning about the macho male who would rather draw blood than talk.

Of course, that does come in handy when one is writing vampires. :-)

Helen Brenna said...

I asked Lois this question on our drive back - can't we have both? Seems like everyone else has the same idea.

Alpha with beta tendencies is my vote, in real life and in fiction. And I'm naming him Jamis. In fiction, that is. DH might wonder otherwise!

Christie Ridgway said...

When I'm reading, I just adore an Alpha. I try to write them, I really do, but mine end up more like Betina was talking about...a bit crunchy. I've tried a few brooding Alphas in my own books but then I always seem to pair them with a woman who rolls her eyes and jabs him in the six pack while insisting he lighten up.

Still love reading 'em, though.

In real life, I have married a big strong guy who is a you can figure it out.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I am most definitely in the camp of hard on the outside, soft and squishy on the inside. A soft ice cream covered in hard chocolate with nuts. :-)

Although any man who can cook pretty much rises to the top. And did we mention how sexy librarians are? Really, it is a must to include.

Miss you already,
Kathleen from the Peg

Anonymous said...

My Dh is Beta on the outside, with a nice balance of Alpha in the inside--it just shows when he needs it, like at work. He is just about perfect, and he taught ME to cook. It is one of the many things we enjoy doing together.

I do like to read about about a man that is a mixture of both, because that seems more real to me. I know books are supposed to transport you to another place, but it has to seem like a REAL place to me, with real people, even if it is historical or SF. Every hero can't be a Harrison Ford clone.

Helen Brenna said...


Yes, we should talk about librarians. This past weekend, Kathleen shattered my illusions about bookwormish librarians. The woman was ready to party at the word go. I'm afraid we shattered her illusions about hot-to-trot romance writers!

Anonymous, sounds like you've got a keeper!

lois greiman said...

Kathleen, the infamous Peg librarian, said exactly what Betina et al say...crunchy on the outside, squishy on the inside. Great minds...

As for myself, I tend to want to stab Alphas in the eye, fictional or real. I wonder what that says about me.

Debra Dixon said...

I like an evolved Alpha. He never needs to resort to the Alpha posturing. There's an inner core of confidence and an outwardly approachable package. (hmm...that sounded wrong somehow! LOL)

But if you push too hard, you find he just doesn't move. You have to form a partnership with him. The pendulum of power is swinging back and forth between the couple.

And I've always had a soft spot for the kind of story in which the heroine is totally supprised to find her domesticated Beta is far more complicated and far more Alpha than she ever imagined.

Susan Kay Law said...

Yeah, I'm a big fan of getting a useful bit of both.

However, I need to comment on the picture. Look how gorgeous the two of you are! The Canadian air must have agreed with you.


Cheeky Wench said...

I can't decide. I saw both those movies, and I'd definitely take home Hugh Grant in a heartbeat, but there was just something about those Spartan boys. When that one Spartan threw his spear at the Rhino--and he had this completely confident look on his face that the rhino was going to fall--and he just stood there--and then it falls, right at his feet. He doesn't so much as flinch.

My movie friend turns and says, "Something about the looks on their faces, isn't there? You just can't help wanting to jump them." No kidding.

So I'm greedy. I want one of each.

lois greiman said...

Okay, Cheeky Wench, I'm seein' your point. Even though I tend to want to stab Alphas in the eye, if they have the Spartan Boy abs, I might think twice before doing so.

And thanks, Susie. I don't know how Helen found a pic I wasn't cross-eyed in.

Cindy Gerard said...

Lois, first of all, you are too funny. Second, what a great pic of both you and Helen. Third - Next time you plan a road trip up north, I wanna goooo!! (picture me whining)

As to alpha vs beta - the girls have said it all. A mix is great even though the hero of my WIP is so alpha he brings out beta tendencies in ME. I don't know where this guy came from but I find myself cowering whenever he's on the page, that's how intimidating he is. But wounded. Lord is the man wounded, hence, alpha to the max to hide all that pain. So when I'm not flinching, (or panting - holy cow is he hot)I'm wanting to apply bandaids to all those emotional wounds that are making him suffer.
Guess that tells the tale of who I'd chose in my novels. Pretty much alpha all the way.
And I've got a mix of both at home. Right now my dh is outside playing with his new toy. It's a little bobcat (the kind with a fork lift and gears and oil and noisy thingies) and he's as happy as a monkey with a bunch of bananas. Yet just before he went outside, he was talking baby talk to our cat who he maintains he really doesn't like (Yeah right) - that would be the alpha side talking. Gotta love versatility :o)

Anonymous said...

Helennnn... Well I am happy to dismiss old fashioned stereotypes. And don't you think smart is sexy? (vs. bookish - I never liked that term!) Spunky, witty, smart, smart-assed...sure. I think there is a heroine in there somewhere!

Lois, please do not stab any alphas in the eye. We need you out in the community. Although I do hear you can get alot of writing done in prison.

I believe Betas are winning in this discussion. Betas with hard abs.

kathleen from the peg

lois greiman said...

Hear that, Kathleen of the Peg? Cindy Gerard wants to make the tundra trek north. How fun would that be?? She has stories that'll knock even a librarians socks off. :)

sharon said...

When I was younger I spent a few days in Winnipeg on vacation during the summer, on our way back to Montreal from Vancouver and the Rockies.ENjoyed the wide streets and the mature and lovely neighborhoods.

Helen Brenna said...

It was a pretty city, Sharon, even in the winter. I'd love to see it all greened up and warm!