2015 RT Convention: Alpha, Beta and Alpha-Hole Heroes

It’s a romance reader’s paradise in Dallas this week as we gather for the 2015 RT Booklovers Convention. Today romance authors and readers gathered to discuss a very popular topic in the romance community: heroes! The panel “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Beta, Alpha and Alpha-hole Heroes” was lead by Amanda Bonilla/Mandy Baxter, Beth Kery, Julie Ann Walker, Julie James and Kate Meader. I personally love a smart beta, or a caring alpha. But everyone has their preference. I asked the authors which types of heroes they enjoy reading versus which types they enjoy writing:

L to R: Julie James, Beth Kery, Kate Meader, Amanda Bonilla/Mandy Baxter and Julie Ann Walker

Which type of hero (beta, alpha or alpha-hole) do you enjoy writing the most?

Julie Ann Walker: “I write alpha heroes. When I try to write betas, they inevitably end up more alpha-ish than beta-ish. And when I try to write alpha-holes, they just come off as assholes!”

Beth Kery: “I would call a lot of my heroes Alpha, but I think some of my readers would say Alpha-holes. Vic Savian? Ian Noble? Yeah. Not all readers, but some would. It’s fun to right a blatant alpha (or alpha-hole) because you get to witness how the heroine makes him bend — something he’d swear he’d never do. In other words, you get to watch the heroine humanize him.”

Julie James: I’d say I typically write alpha heroes. Mostly, that’s because my heroines are alphas, too, and I love the sparks that fly when a strong-willed heroine and hero are paired together.”

Kate Meader: “I’m an alpha hero [lover] all the way, but to break it down a little bit more, I really love a caretaking alpha. Think Jack Travis in Smooth Talking Stranger. A guy who’s protective of his lady and willing to take care of her problems, who might have a soft spot for kids and puppies. He’s confident enough in his masculinity to listen to his heroine and will go to the ends of the earth to make sure she knows that she’s his singular focus. The close-mouthed alphas who keep their feelings bottled up, to the extent that the heroine doesn’t have an inkling of his love for her until the final page — those guys can stay emo-brooding in their man caves!”

Amanda Bonilla: “n the past, I was most comfortable writing the beta hero. I’ve had a hard time with the alpha mindset and tended to write stronger heroines that overshadowed the hero. But over the course of the past year, I’ve had to stretch my alpha writing muscles. I’m much more comfortable writing an alpha male now and I think I get a little better with every book. At least, I hope so! I’m definitely a fan of a strong alpha hero!”

Which type of hero do you you prefer when reading?

Julie Ann Walker: “I like to read ALL types of heroes. I love a good beta because he’s usually the kind of man I’d pick in real life. I think an alpha is incredibly hot on the page, but in real life he’s probably a bit of a handful. And the alpha-holes? Sooo fun to read and fantasize about, but in the real world? Ha! No, thank you! I’d probably nut-punch him on a daily basis.”

Beth Kery: “It’s the same when I’m reading. I love a strong alpha, whether I’m creating or consuming. Interestingly, when it comes to television and some movies, I root for the beta hero.

The truth is, I love men. I don’t expect them to be like me or my sisters or my girlfriends. I cherish the fact that they are so different. Women often say they want a strong man, but when he acts like a man, they want him to be more like her. It’s not going to happen. Men are men, and women are women. And where they meet is a terrific relationship.”

Julie James: “I enjoy reading about a variety of heroes… well, except for alpha-holes. Fortunately, I don’t seem to pick up too many books with true alpha-holes in them.”

Kate Meader: “For me, it’s a mood thing. I like a good beta hero every now and then to cleanse the palate of the constant diet of alphas we usually read in romance. But in the end, I’ll always come back to a good alpha. But it’s more important that his heroine isn’t a doormat. Those alpha heroes need to be challenged at every turn.”

Amanda Bonilla: “I love every type of hero! Beta, Alpha, even the Alpha-hole if he’s written well. It’s important to me that the hero’s personality fit the story as well as the heroine’s personality. As long as everything meshes, I read them all.”

Which type of hero is your favorite? Tell me in the comments! Check back here all week for more RT Convention coverage. If you missed some con coverage we’ve got it all right here.

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