Defining the Alpha Female Character

Recently an interviewer asked me to explain the difference between urban fantasy and paranormal romance novels and where my books fit in. I had to laugh because when I started the Shadows of Justice series, publishing was a whole different world and urban fantasy wasn’t yet defined as such. Anything with a romantic element that wasn’t contemporary or a space odyssey was labeled paranormal romance.

In the near future of 2096 Jaden Michaels (heroine of Justice Incarnate) is a kick-butt, alpha female character of the highest order. She lives in her own world. In many ways like the classic alpha male archetype character, she stands apart from her community, aloof but not indifferent – though it might look that way on the surface.

Now as authors and publishers grow with new books and seek new ways to label and cross promote those books so readers can find them, the alpha female character has become a defining point between paranormal romance novels and urban fantasy.

Not every book with a kick butt alpha female character is an urban fantasy. Alpha females show up in all genres – and it’s a good thing too. Debra Webb’s new contemporary detective/mystery novel, Dirty, stars Jackie Mercer: a woman who is most definitely an alpha female character.

There are other factors too between urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Setting is one: urban fantasy settings are primarily, well, urban. But wait! Paranormal romance novels can be set in urban areas too. Or suburban, or even a quaint biker bar in the middle of nowhere.

Welcome to the world of cross-over labeling. As I told the interviewer, I’ll always think of myself as a paranormal romance author first, maybe because that’s where I started. Probably more because I have a tendency to write improbable and not-yet-possible character traits and scenarios, but I just can’t shake that romantic happy ever after angle.

While the urban fantasy genre doesn’t hold exclusive rights to the alpha female character, that kick butt heroine does help define the genre for readers who want a story with a strong female lead ready to go the distance to get what she needs.

Live the adventure!

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