Researching My Next Series

Hidden Heat_Swafford
Release date: February 16, 2016

A couple times recently, I’ve been asked about my research on my latest series, Brothers of Mayhem. First, let me say that most writers love to do research. We love to read about other people’s lives and the way they handle certain situations. Hey, we love to sit in a mall or in front of stores and watch people walk by. We will assess their way of life by the clothes they wear, how they hold themselves (their stance), the way they walk, and often they will show up in our books.

So when writers research a book or new series, it’s a win-win. Books and reading about other people lives, we’re in hog heaven.

For my next series, I did research about outlaw motorcycle clubs. Youtube was helpful. There are lots of documentaries, specially for each outlaw MC known to man. Well, it feels that way. I probably watched ten of the videos, including just general ones on riding motorcycles. And of course, I watch shows on TV. Previously, Sons of Anarchy along with whatever shows that have popped up on TV (e.g. Outlaw Chronicles: Hells Angels).

Then I bought two romances with the central characters being in outlaw MCs. I quickly realized that was a mistake. They are NOT the kind of heroes I want to write. I love alpha heroes, but I don’t want them crude or just downright mean. That was all confirmed when my beta reader mentioned she started reading MC stories after my first three chapters hooked her, and some of the stories she read were waaaay over the edge. She liked the milder but still sexy ones.

I also bought two autobiographies about undercover agents in MCs and one about a confidential informant. Here are the books.

  • No Angel by Jay Dobyns and Nils Johnson-Shelton – “My harrowing under cover journey to the inner circle of the Hells Angels.”
  • Under and Alone by William Queen – “The True story of the undercover agent who infiltrated America’s most violent outlaw motorcycle gang.”
  • Gods of Mischief by George Rowe – “My undercover vendetta to take down the Vagos outlaw motorcycle gang.”

And I drew from my misspent youth for a few other aspects of the book. I’ve talked a little about that before. Click here.  When I was younger, I had ridden on a few motorcycles (passenger only – chopper, touring bike, and dirt bike – yep, it was rough bitch-riding on the last one), but never felt the need to buy one or keep riding.

Research can become addictive. So you have to learn to limit it. I felt I have it covered now.

Three Types of Alphas

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Release date 2/24/2015 Amazon.
Over the years, I’ve heard debates on the plus and minuses of Alpha and beta heroes. Personally, I prefer Alpha heroes, and strangely, as unchanging Alphas appear to be, they have been changing with the times. Maybe it has to do with women liberation and the younger generation.

Geez, that last part makes me sound so old.

I guess it’s because I don’t have a problem with a man being a man. For a man to beat his chest and open my doors never bothered me. But at the same time, why are women still referred to as Mrs. in the business world or if I’m purchasing something? Hell, I’m proud of being married to my hubby (love him dearly), but what does my marital status have to do with my work? Men are Mr., no matter if they’re married or not. Never understood it. Equal rights and all.

Sorry, got off track. Back to the three type of Alphas.

1.  The Tarzan Alpha.  Loved watching Tarzan movies on TV when I was a kid (they were re-runs of re-runs), but as an adult in the present PC environment, the movies from the 1930s for sure show a hero Tarzan11who’s not really very nice to Jane. Even in one film, he tears her clothes off. Of course, he’s just curious about the clothing. Yeah. Right. It was the same movie (Tarzan and His Mate) along with a few others that helped bring about censoring movies in Hollywood during that period. The Johnny Weissmuller ones were my favorites. By the way, Tarzan’s English name was John Clayton. Thought I would throw that in.

Now on to this Alpha. At times, he can come across as being not the smartest cookie in the pack. Maybe because he’s raised by apes/wolves/lions/etc., from a different planet or time. Isn’t that a great excuse to do whatever he wants? But when he’s in his environment, watch out! You’ll look a fool if you underestimate him.

The other side of the same coin, this Alpha can also be super-smart, and you’ll know it from the start. Often he’s that way because he’s lived a horrible life. Cruel biological or foster parents/guardians, bad choices or friends, etc. So he grows up thinking women are nothing but sex toys for him to play with. That is, when he’s not busy taking care of business. He often plays a brutish hero, steam rolling over the heroine, forcing her to do what he says. “For her own good.” Hey, I enjoy reading this type, but no way do I want to be around one in real life.

What authors write this type? Lori Leigh, Anne Stuart (she has some scary, delicious ones), Beth Kery, and Nalini Singh (some I’m told).

2. The James Bond Alpha. This is the category where most Alphas fall. They’re self-James Bondsufficient and don’t believe they need a woman until they meet The One. Sometimes they have a hard time recognizing her. That’s the part we find so much fun: watching him come to terms, that he can’t live without her. Oh, yeah. The mighty falls hard.

And don’t be hating my favorite James Bond. Even today, wrinkles and all, Pierce Brosnan is so sexy.

The authors for his type? Linda Howard, Maisey Yates, Debra Webb, Anne Stuart (her Ice series has this, mixed with the Tarzan) and Carla Swafford (of course, I had to add mine).

3. The Jamie Alpha.  Yes. Simply stated. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, you haven’t read, watched or listened (audio) to any of the OUTLANDER books. The author has created a new alpha. He’s strong, gentle, and reasonable. Expects his woman to be as honest as he is and to stand by her man. But he’s willing to sacrifice his life or even give her up to protect her. Jamie

The authors with this type of Alpha? Diana Gabaldon (duh!), Betty Bolte, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Victoria Dahl (some), and my next book will have a lot of this Alpha in the hero. The book is due out February 2016 and should be titled BURNOUT [update: title has been changed. More about that later.] More info to come in the next few months.

As you noticed, the authors I mentioned have a mixture of Alpha heroes (including mine), but they appear to gravitate to the types I mentioned.

Something I noticed when I finished writing this post, all three Alphas are named after characters from the U.K., and all have “J” names.  Funny. HA!

Anyway, comment and let me know what authors you believe match up to the Alphas above. Chances are I’ll love to read them.

Keeping On Track

Woman Reading a DiaryA fast pace, well-written book encourages me to write. I get excited and want my books to be just as fun to read.

A book that doesn’t satisfy frightens me; I’m afraid I’ll pick up their bad habits. So, I quit reading and pass it on to the used book store or delete it off my e-reader.

Do you delete books ever?  What are your reasons?