Friday, March 20, 2009

D.B.Reynolds Day 2 - Alpha Females

Please welcome D.B.Reynolds back for her second day of guest blogging. Just before the post, here's the blurb for Raphael to whet your appetite:-

Malibu, California—home to rock-and-roll gods and movie stars, the beautiful, the rich . . . and vampires.

Powerful and charismatic, Raphael is a Vampire Lord, one of the few who hold the power of life and death over every vampire in existence. Thousands call him Master and have pledged absolute loyalty on their very lives. But when, in a brazen and deadly daylight attack, a gang of human killers kidnaps the one female vampire he’d give his life for, Raphael turns to a human investigator to find his enemies before it’s too late.

Cynthia Leighton is smart, tough and sexy, a private investigator and former cop who’s tired of spying on cheating spouses and digging out old bank accounts. When Raphael asks for her help in tracking down the kidnappers, Cyn’s happy to accept. But she soon realizes her greatest danger comes not from the humans, but from Raphael himself.

Battling Russian mobsters and treacherous vampires, and betrayed by those they trusted, Cyn and Raphael find themselves fighting for their lives while caught up in a passion of blood and violence that is destined to destroy them both.

Now over to D.B. (LesleyW)

Just a reminder to everyone that I’m running a book giveaway during my two days on the island. Anyone who comments on either day will have his/her name put in the hat for a signed copy of my first book, RAPHAEL, releasing on March 31st from ImaJinn Books.

When I was looking for a publisher for RAPHAEL, the first book in my forthcoming Urban Fantasy series, Vampires in America, I checked out all the sites to see what editors were looking for. A lot of them specified not just an alpha male protagonist, but an alpha female protagonist, as well -- which was good for me, because my heroine, Cynthia Leighton is very much an alpha. A lot has been written about the bad boy, the alpha male, and why he’s so popular. But there’s very little discussion of alpha females, even though publishers look for them.

Writing an alpha female can be tricky. You want her to be strong and self reliant, someone who takes charge in an emergency, someone who doesn’t sit and wait for the big man to show up and save the day. But at the same time, she shouldn’t be a ball buster. She has to be soft and feminine, and sexually desirable. She has to need her alpha male to protect and cherish her, even though she’s fully capable of protecting herself.

This is pretty much analogous to what women face in the workplace every day, especially women in positions of authority and/or power over men. The job requires a woman to be tough and take charge, but society, and the men she works with, expect her to be a woman. The most common criticism I’ve heard of women bosses is the dreaded “B” word. And most of the time, it’s for behavior that, in a man, would be considered assertive, aggressive, admirable. All the “A” words.

The same problem arises when writing such a character. For example, Elena in Kelley Armstrong’s wonderful Otherworld series. Elena certainly doesn’t start out very alpha-ish. Not in my view. She’s conflicted and indecisive, clinging to Phillip not because she loves him – although she does on some level – but because he’s paternal and wants to take care of her. He smoothes out the rough edges of life, so Elena doesn’t have to deal with them at all. The interesting thing about Elena is that in order to get along with the very alpha Clay, she must assert her own alphaness. Otherwise, he’ll keep her tucked safely into a velvet padded room where nothing will ever harm her. And so we see Elena grow into her role to the point where many readers now believe she’ll be the Pack Alpha successor to Jeremy.

Anita Blake, Laurell K. Hamilton’s bestselling vampire hunter, is alpha from the very beginning. She’s all bristling attitude and carries a huge chip on her shoulder that warns men not to even THINK about opening a door for her, thank you very much. And as the series goes on, she becomes even more so, asserting her alphaness over even the most alpha of her many lovers, effectively transforming all of her males into betas.

My own preference is for a sharing of power, an alpha female paired with an alpha male who respects her enough to admit her ability to take care of herself, but who still stands at her side, because he needs to protect her. Suzanne Brockmann’s Navy SEAL books are full of such women and men. Alyssa, Tess, Lindsey and all the others are strong and accomplished women who can take on whatever the world throws at them and handle it. And yet they’re paired with uberAlpha men whose natural instinct is to protect, to stand in front and never let anything touch the people he loves. Brockmann does a great job of showing the conflicts that arise when these personalities meet. Some of the women deal with it more gracefully than others, some of the men find it easier to accept than others. But every one of these couples faces that challenge and overcomes it.

In examining all of the above alpha females, I was struck by something I see in my own alpha females, as well. Fictional alpha females almost always come from damaged backgrounds. They’re strong because they’ve had to be, because life has thrown them some pretty awful curves. The loss of a beloved parent at an early age, a childhood of isolation or foster care, a brutal first husband, or even worse assault and/or rape. There’s some trauma these women have survived and come out stronger. An alpha male can have a loving and supportive family behind him. He doesn’t always, but it is accepted. Not so for the alpha female.
In my own books, my female protagonists – Cynthia Leighton in the first two books and Abbey Stratton in the third – are both survivors. Their traumas were very different, but they both come into the story already damaged by life. Which means that while they don’t mind being rescued, they don’t hang around and wait for it either. They save themselves so that when their knight shows up on his white charger all they have to do is hop on and catch a ride home, grateful for having a broad back to hang onto for the ride.

In closing, I want to thank LesleyW and Christine once again for letting me drop in on the island, and thank all of you for reading. And don’t forget, anyone who comments gets a chance at an autographed copy of RAPHAEL as soon as it’s released on March 31st. Thank you all and I hope to see you on the web at


Jenre said...

Great post DB. It's certainly given me a lot to think about.

Thanks for coming along and sharing your views, it's been very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Well you summed up very neatly what I like about an Alpha female -someone who is strong, can take care of herself, who can manage very well without a guy but finds that the hero can complement her and her life - and she doesn't emasculate the hero by putting his balls in a jar by the door!!

A very fine line sometimes and a huge challenge to write I imagine. Your series looks great - I went to Amazon UK but they don't have it listed as yet *pout*

Kristin said...

Hey D.B.,
It was a nice surprise to see you here...I first heard about your book Raphael at Club Hell!!!

Great to hear even more about it here...and am looking forward to reading it!!! :)

DonnaB said...

Thanks for reading, Jenre, and thanks for letting me share the island.

Willa, RAPHAEL won't be available on Amazon until mid-April, but it will be available from the publisher on March 31st and they do ship internationally.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! LOL


DonnaB said...

Hi, Kristin!,
Yes, Adrian Phoenix has been very generous in letting me talk about my books on her mailing list. She also read the manuscript, told me she loved it, and gave my publisher a cover blurb which will appear on the back cover! I was very excited!

And I'm thrilled I could visit the island!


Tracy said...

Wow I think you really nailed the Alpha Female description. When you were describing her I had Elena from Armstrong's books in my head and then you mentioned her. Great minds think alike. *snort*

Congrats again on your upcoming release I'm looking forward to reading Raphael.

Carolyn Crane said...

DB, Thanks for this interesting post. Funny, I never really think of heroines as alphas or betas or whatever, but it fits.

Jess (The Cozy Reader) said...

This book looks great!

Have fun!

Michelle Muto said...

I'm with you - share the power. I don't tend to relate to female MCs that always require someone to ride in on a white horse to save her. On the other hand, if she's too strong, too alpha, too bitchy, undermines every male around her, I wonder who the hell pulled the string on her tampon, you know?

Now Cynthia - she's just got spunk with attitude that resonates. Not too soft, not too hard. Just right.

Lea said...

Wonderful Post D.B.:

And, as Willa indicated you certainly summed up what draws a reader to an alpha female.

By the way, I love the cover of Raphael! After reading the synopsis of the book IMHO the cover are reflects the essence of the story very well. :)

Best Regards

tetewa said...

Nice having you here today your book is my kind of read!

DonnaB said...




DonnaB said...

Lea, I was so worried about the cover. I'm kind of a control freak and there are some awful covers out there. But when I saw it, I loved it. I even suggested a couple of small changes and the artist agreed!

The artist's name is Patrish Lazarus and she's already talked to me about the cover for JABRIL, as well. I love that they're letting me give them some input on the covers.

Thanks, Lea!

DonnaB said...

And thanks Tetewa and Jessica, for coming by and welcoming me to the island!


Michelle said...

Thanks for all the great info on your new book!

The Brunette Librarian said...

Strong women rock. Even though they've had some crazy stuff happen in their past life, it has made them stronger and SOOO much more interesting. Totally agree that an alpha male needs an awesome alpha lady friend too!

LesleyW said...

One of the reasons I love urban fantasy is because of the strong female characters. Apart from Elena, :), my favourite alpha female is probably Kate Daniels.

Lori T said...

Hi D.B.~

Great post and loved reading it. I am looking forward to reading this as I have heard such nice things about it on Adrian's group.

I hope you have an amazing release day!!

jessewave said...

One of the reasons I don't read a lot of M/F books is because of the indecisive TSTL heroines in most of them. I would hate to have to wait to be rescued by anyone - I much prefer to depend on myself.

This series looks interesting and I might give it a try.

Thanks for an interesting perspective

Bridget Locke said...

Hi, DB! Sorry I'm late. :(

Anyhoodles, in regards to Alpha females, what a timely blog post! I'm working on my first WIP (that will get published...finally) and my heroine is a literal Alpha. She's the Alpha of her Pack. It's been a lot of fun and very interesting delving into Alpha-ness, especially in females.

I found a really interesting book during my foray to B&N yesterday that focused on wolves, esp. the Alpha male and female of a Pack. It really opened my eyes. I've been able to go back to my WIP w/ new ideas on how to make my heroine stronger w/o making her psychotic. :D

DonnaB said...

Lesley, I LOVE Kate Daniels. And Curran is such a wonderful alpha!

Lori T., Thanks so much for coming by. And, yes, Adrian has been so generous in letting me talk about MY book on HER mailing list!


DonnaB said...

jessewave, I agree completely on limp heroines. They drive me nuts! I find myself screaming at them in my head to get up and DO something! LOL

Thanks for coming by and I do hope you'll give Cyn and Raphael a chance. Believe me, Cyn doesn't wait for anyone to rescue her!


DonnaB said...

Bridget Locke, Congrats on getting your WIP published! That's great. And yes, it's always better to have a heroine who's not psychotic! Although, now that I think of it, that might work too. LOL

Thanks for coming by.


DonnaB said...

It's after midnight here in California, so my days on the Island are nearing a close. I had a great time, and I want to thank everyone who made it possible, especially Lesley W. and Christine, and all of you who came by and commented.

jessewave is the winner of the RAPHAEL giveaway. You can thank (or blame) my darling husband; he's the one who drew the name! I'll be giving away more copies on my own blog in the coming days and months, so you can visit me at

Thank you all and I hope to see you again soon.


Shannon said...

Thanks for stopping by the island! I love (and completely agree with) what you said regarding Alpha Females. She has to have a softer side to complement her toughness. Brockmann's women are a perfect example. If you read Historicals, Loretta Chase has some wonderful examples, as well (Jessica Trent/Lord of Scoundrels and Lydia Grenville/The Last Hellion).

DonnaB said...

Thanks, Shannon! I do love Brockmann's heroines ... and her heroes too!

One final note ... Jessewave was the winner of my guest blog giveaway and her copy is now speeding (well, as speedy as the U.S. postal system ever gets) its way to her.


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