A New York Times article that caught my attention long before I started the Impressions Series is titled “Tapping Your Inner Wolf” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/06/opinion/tapping-your-inner-wolf.html?_r=0 The article caught my attention immediately because of sentences like those below:
“The main characteristic of an alpha male wolf,” the veteran wolf researcher Rick McIntyre told me as we were watching gray wolves, “is a quiet confidence, quiet self-assurance. You know what you need to do; you know what’s best for your pack. You lead by example. You’re very comfortable with that. You have a calming effect.” The point is, alpha males are not aggressive. They don’t need to be.
I’m a huge fan of anything that questions the norm; and in this case it seemed to me that almost everyone who described the so-called ‘alpha’ male was literally describing the last person that would ever inspire any sort of following. When I read the article it interested me that the author captured the true essence of alpha qualities. After all, the very name ‘alpha’ would indicate a ranking; a place atop a hierarchy, as in the alpha of a pack of wolves. In pop culture, however, somehow the expression became coopted to mean the dominant, aggressive male monkey whose walking around with a bad attitude and a puffed out chest, ready to strike fear into anyone who stood in his way. Now, let’s transition to the writing of Impressions of You. . .
So when I set out to write the book, I knew that having a male character that women would want to read about was crucial to being successful. After all, it’s a romance novel! If the male character comes off as too abrasive, or too aggressive, or otherwise unattractive, all the well strung together sentences in the world won’t save your book. So I knew that who Wesley was would be key to the telling of the entire story, even though that story is seen through Mia’s eyes. So how did I go about crafting Wesley Marsden from scratch?
I knew that I wanted to keep him mysterious and that the mystery surrounding him would unfold as the story unfolded; and I of course wanted him to be physically attractive.
But then came this whole alpha male thing. . . although there are some great books that follow this model, I really had no interest in writing about a dominant asshole who was hyper sexual towards the main character the second he laid eyes on her. I wanted instant attraction, and I wanted to a strong connection, but I didn’t want to write 300 pages of a good looking douche. A handsome asshole is still an asshole at the end of the day, and more than anything I wanted to write a good man who was living with a few things that haunted him. At the same time, I wanted him to fight tooth and nail to confront those demons for the woman he ends up loving – Mia Careri. In writing, as in life, there’s a balance. The connection between characters, the sex, the banter, the drama of the story – all things must be balanced, and more than anything I tried to add complexity to the characters without devolving into too dark or too over-sexualized a story. That word – story – it always comes first. And I wanted a story of a guy I could relate to – not the guy who’d steal your girlfriend in high school and break her heart. Even with a six pack and chiseled face, that guy will always be a dick, and I wanted to write my alpha – the real thing – a guy who can be confident, caring, and most importantly puts the needs of those he loves above his own. Wesley is the most non-alpha-alpha I could write – and I wouldn’t have him any other way.
An excerpt from Impressions of You –
Seeing him sitting there, the man makes me think of sex the minute I lay eyes on him. Hot sex. Me-pressed-up-against-the-wall-screaming-his-name sex. I can’t help it, it’s like an involuntary response my whole body has when I see him. I can’t help but have the dirtiest thoughts when he gives me those eyes and says my name in his deep voice. Is he the dominant type, or would he let me take control? I can see him, holding me down, my face in the pillow and my hair bunched in his strong hands, pulling my whole neck backwards as he takes me hard from behind. Snap out of it, Mia, you’re here to talk, not to undress him with your eyes. But I can’t help it, he’s gorgeous, I can’t stop thinking about my naked body on top of his, riding his hard cock until his eyes roll back in his head.
It’s not just me, either, I know the other women in the park are thinking the same thing I am, there’s no way they couldn’t be. There was something about him that has nothing to do with his words, something almost primal that I felt when I’m around him.
“You look amazing,” he tells me as I approach him. He stands up like a true gentleman, and when he does, the contrast of our heights is way more obvious than it was at The Drip. He stands over me, and I have to angle my head up to look into those baby blues. His eyes don’t look at me, they penetrate me. It’s like he’s looking inside of me with such intensity that it’s hard to look back for too long without getting overwhelmed. He looks at me like he’s studying me, as though every word and every move I make is the most interesting thing he’s ever seen or heard. It makes me feel like maybe I’m not just Mia; I’m his Mia. What the hell are you doing, you don’t even know him yet! He must get beautiful women talking to him all the time. I mean, look at him! What woman in her right mind wouldn’t wanna jump all over him the second she saw him?
He’s wearing another fitted shirt, and it grips his chest muscles underneath, hiding and showing them off simultaneously, and I want to rip his shirt off right then and there.
“Wow. There’s that expression again, you’ve used it twice now.”
“I wouldn’t waste your time counting, I’m certain it’s going to come out of my mouth a lot when it comes to you, I hope you don’t mind.” Did I mind? No, my sexy coffee-house man, tell me I look amazing as often as your heart desires.
“I don’t mind at all, it doesn’t happen that much, so I’ll take what I can get.”
“I can’t believe that. No way. I assumed I was being unoriginal.” He’s so sweet.
I’ve never known how to react to compliments. Whenever a guy tries to be sweet with me like this my face contorts into this awkward smile I can’t seem to control, followed by my indifferent declarations of “oh, okay.” I’ve offended my share of suitors with my inability to just politely take a compliment and believe whatever nice thing they were trying to say to me. I guess I never really see what they see, but I believe it when Wesley says it, and I don’t feel awkward at all when he compliments me.
“You’re doing just fine, don’t worry,” I assure him. “Your words are very flattering, trust me.”
“Thank you,” he says, “but I can do better. I will do better.”