Male Writers of Romance

Yesterday, in the discussion of ranting and whether romance readers are disrespectful, Teddy Pig made an interesting comment: I wonder with all the male writers that have been found writing romance under a female pen name why has someone not reviewed their books in this light.

This got me thinking: what romance authors are men using women’s pen names? Is there a definitive list? Off the top of my head, I can think of Laura London, which was the spousal-powerhouse duo of Tom and Sharon Curtis, and Leigh Greenwood, which is the pen name of Harold Lowry. I’ve found an article on men in category romance, which mentions both Lowry and Jim McBride, and another article from Writer’s Digest that focuses on those two gentlemen as well. What smaller blurbs I’ve found in my cursory search usually focus on the question, as asked in a letter to RT from publisher Carol Stacy, “Since romance novels are generally written from a woman’s perspective the question is can a man REALLY capture the female perspective? Over the many years I have been in this business it seems that readers always know when a romance novel is written by a man.”

I honestly think that men certainly can write romance, and that readers may not really be able to tell the difference, but that a man might is remarkable purely from a standpoint of established sex/gender expectations. It’s remarkable when a man writes from a female perspective – consider the hooplah that surrounded Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone, which was told from the perspective of a female protagonist. A man! Writing a woman’s point of view! And doing it well! Oh, the shock! And awe!

In A Natural History of the Romance Novel, Pamela Regis discusses the fact that women are taught in school to read the experiences of a male protagonist as representative of humankind in general, therefore including women within that representation. Men, on the other hand, are not taught to read the experiences of a female protagonist as representative of their own experience, and when it does happen that a male writes a female protagonist accurately, it’s remarkable.

But what about romance? I’m really curious – not from a “I’m going to review their books and see if I can tell the difference” perspective but from a “how many are there and how’d you like them?” perspective. What male writers of romance do you know of, and what titles have you read? A list! Let us compile it!

UPDATED: Teddy Pig left a pretty good list in the comments, and Laura Vivanco also has one on her site (which I am sorry I missed!). Are there more?

UPDATED AGAIN: Ancillary thought: I cannot tell you the number of times I have searched eBay and other sites for a US-compatible DVD or even VHS of Hugh Jackman’s Aussie film Paperback Hero wherein Jackman plays a truck driving romance writer? Seriously. I want to see this film so bad, and I can’t find a copy that will definitely play on my DVD player, nor can I find a Torrent. Woe! WOE!

Updated AGAIN AGAIN: Sorry for the mis-link. Not sure why I had a Wiki article about first born redemption, but I fixed it. My bad.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Kaz Augustin says:

    Methinks you forgot to close an italics HTML tag somewhere…

  2. 2
    SB Sarah says:

    Yup. Closed with an “a” instead of an “i” – fixed it! Pesky vowels. Damn you Pat Sajak!

    Anyway, Teddy’s list from the other thread:

    Leigh Greenwood = Harold Lowry

    Edwina Marlow, Jennifer Wilde, Katherine St Claire, Beatrice Parker = Tom E. Huff

    Vanessa Royall = Mike Hinkemeyer

    Fran Vincent = Vince Branch

    Nicholas Sparks

    Wayne Jordan

    K.N. Casper = Ken Casper

    Michael Little

  3. 3

    Your link opens on a Wiki article on Pidyon ha-Ben, which is an interesting ceremony I never got to do.  CSection babies don’t count ‘cause they don’t “open the womb.”

    On the other hand, I got a pretty and not squished firstborn.[g]

  4. 4
    Alison Kent says:

    I have a VHS of Paperback Hero.  If I can dig it up, I’ll be glad to wing it your way.

  5. 5
    Teddy Pig says:

    I would spend a wonderful night with Hugh Jackman. I do not know if I would want him to speak but I am sure I could find other things he was good at.

  6. 6
    Teddy Pig says:

    Oh, if you are doing Aussy films.

    Get The Sum of Us an early Russell Crowe film. He plays a gay plumber and looks dang good in the shower scene.

  7. 7

    I’ve got the Jackman DVD in US format.  Write me privately and I’ll send it to you.

  8. 8
    Teddy Pig says:

    Men, on the other hand, are not taught to read the experiences of a female protagonist as representative of their own experience, and when it does happen that a male writes a female protagonist accurately, it’s remarkable.

    Nah, it just means they have great girlfriends and probably a man at home to torture, I mean provide research.

  9. 9

    For a long time, there was an ebook author that went simply by J Morgan.  Their books were light, funny, and very sexy.  Just recently, J Morgan ‘came out’… as Bill.  Bill is a happily married man with a teenage daughter, a wife he adores and a cat.  He works in a lumber yard, and you look at a pic, and you’ll never see anyone more masculine.  But, Bill writes romance.  And he does it very well.

    So, it happens.

  10. 10
    Kiwi says:

    I like Naomi Neale, who is a male friend of mine.  His/her books include I Went to Vassar For This? and The Mile-High Hair Club.  He also writes “juveniles” that stray into the romance category under the name of Naomi Neale.  I loved You Are SO Cursed!,
    Chloe, Queen of Denial,
    Beaner O’Brian’s Absolutely Ginormous Guidebook to Guys,
    Senses Working Overtime and I Am SO Jinxed!.

  11. 11
    Christine Merrill says:

    Geek advice:

    It is also usually pretty easy to hack your DVD player to set it to all regions, so it will play UK and Aussie DVDs. 

    Put the model and brand name of your player into Google, along with the words “region hacks” and see if you come up with anything.

    Often, it takes just a few button punches on the remote to get to a secret menu, and set the region to ‘0’. And a whole new world of viewing is wide open.

    Half a world, anyway.  But it’s the half with Hugh Jackman. 

    And did anyone mention Bernard Cornwell, yet?  I think he thinks his first books are romance, and he had a female pseudonym.  But judging by the one I have, I’d say “Historical Ficiton”.

  12. 12

    You might also look for Paperback Writer on VHS.  I managed to get my hands on it several years ago, and thankfully it’s NTSC and not PAL.

  13. 13

    D’oh!  Make that Paperback Hero.  Jackman, not the Beatles. [facepalm]

  14. 14
    Stephanie says:

    Oooh!  I know one: Tori Carrington, who writes categories for Harlequin and then some chick-lit about a Greek girl for Tor, is actually Tony and Lori Karayanni.  I met him once.  He’s very nice.  But yeah, it’s a husband-and-wife duo.

    They’re from my hometown and have set at least 3 of their books there. :)

  15. 15
    Sarah says:

    I lived in Japan for a while, and had the same problem with any dvds i bought there. if you’re willing to watch it on your computer, or hook your computer up to your tv (via an s cable), then i recommend downloading VLC media player. it’ll play anything, regardless of the region. :)

  16. 16
    Angela says:

    I don’t mind men who write romances since one of my favorite authors is Jennifer Wilde aka Tom E. Huff. Coming from the perspective of a minority woman whose voice in literature is doubly absent, I’ve been conditioned to view the voice of any white person as the ‘representative of humankind in general’.  I’m only wowed and bug-eyed when a non-black person gets the black voice ‘right’. (tongue in cheek)

  17. 17
    thebooklass says:

    I heard Dean Koontz wrote under a female pen name for romance. I could be wrong, but I believe I read that some where.

  18. 18
    Sonja says:

    May McGoldrick is another husband and wife team that wrote historical romance. I’ve only read one, The Thistle and the Rose, but I enjoyed it. The historical aspect (set in the Scottish Highlands) was well written and the love story was sweet, not too angsty. Most of the conflict in the relationship, if I remember correctly, was external, which I find refreshing now and then. I guess they are now writing contemporaries under a different name. They used to live near me (don’t know if they still do) and I believe the husband taught at one of the local colleges.

  19. 19
    Marta Acosta says:

    Ha, I just mentioned one on my Vampire Wire blog, http://www.vampirewire.blogspot.com:  Rob Pearce.  Kate Rothwell interviewed him and said, “It normally takes Rob at least three drinks to admit he started reading romance because there was this one romance with a heroine on the cover with truly outstanding assets.”

    I also recently read about a husband/wife team who write paranormal romance, but unfortunately I can’t remember their names.

    I read Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone before Oprah discovered it.  I assumed Lamb was a woman because the character was so true.  Henry James wrote damn fine novels with women as central characters.

  20. 20
    JaniceG says:

    Regarding PAPERBACK HERO, I did some research for Darlene Marshall on this a couple of weeks ago and found a US compatible version at http://www.sell.com/22QDRG

  21. 21
    Aubrey says:

    Turn Me On by Cherie Jeffrey is actually a new chick lit novel written by a male/female writing team. However, I don’t think it’s being labeled as chick lit (the voice certainly is, though).

    Also, one of the former mentors in my grad program—Steven Harper/Steven Piziks—writes SF/F mostly, but was writing for the Harlequin Bombshell line under a female pseudonym before the line folded. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what his pen name was.

  22. 22
    veinglory says:

    There are a few other teams tha are MF, Lee & Miller and Leda Swan.

  23. 23
    snarkhunter says:

    He’s not a romance novelist, but I’ve always thought Charles de Lint wrote incredibly believable women protagonists. It’s one of the reasons he’s one of my favorite authors.

    On the issue of men writing as women, there are two extremely interesting case studies, one of which is still something of a publishing scandal (though I side with the author, myself).

    Rahila Khan. In short, Khan wrote a book of short stories that Virago Press picked up and praised to the skies in the 80s. When they found out that Khan was, in fact, a middle-aged white vicar, they not only dropped him/her, they pulped all the books. Finding a copy of that book is extremely difficult these days.

    Yasmina Khadra’s story has a happier outcome. It’s now fairly well known that Khadra is man, formerly a soldier in the Algerian Army. To protect himself during his military career, he borrowed his wife’s name to publish his fiction. But Khadra, at least, hasn’t been disavowed by the publishing industry.

    What does it say that men who write sensitive, thought-provoking books often feel the need to write as women? (For that matter, what does it say that I’ve never seen a spy thriller with a woman’s name on it?)

  24. 24
    Zoe Archer says:

    You will find few other women who will celebrate the eye-candy that is Hugh Jackman more than moi, but, alas, after tracking down Paperback Hero, I was exceptionally disappointed.  Not by Hugh, natch, but the script was meh and the notions of what constituted “romance” novels seemed sadly out-of-date.  Plus, the woman who was his love interest annoyed the fuck out of me.  That’s why I like to play with Hugh in the privacy of my mind. 

    On another note, my husband and I have been discussing men writing romance for some time now.  I’d read on the RT posting boards that some readers felt betrayed if they learned a romance author was a man, which, to my mind, seemed rather bigoted.  Does the author’s gender really matter when determining whether or not a book is a good read? 

    I have just written a literary novel under my real name, and the narrator and protagonist is not only a man, but a womanizer and all-around antihero.  It would deeply sadden me if an editor or reader rejected the work without considering it on the basis of my sex.  (BTW, the book is out to editors now.  Please, my dear fellow Smart Bitches, keep your fingers and pudendas crossed for me!)

  25. 25
    Chrissy says:

    You know it was only about 6 months ago that a guy who was trying his hand at writing romance showed up at the RT magazine forum.  He wasn’t treated terribly well at the onset.  I think I remember a woman actually saying a man being there made her uncomfortable.

    That’s sexism.  It kind of surprised me.  Dark ages, anyone?

    Anyway, I wouldn’t “out” any of the guys on my other loop, though I nudged them this way with a link.  I don’t necessarily want my pen name and actual name out there TOO widely, and wouldn’t want to violate anyone’s privacy. 

    But on one of my favorite author sites there are three guys I know of.

    A book is a book is a book.  Good or bad.  It’s weird… sci fi/fantasy seems to suffer under a similar (though reversed) bigotry.  Many men just won’t read sff written by a woman. And when I taught I noticed the younger the male, the more resistant to reading females he was.  I didn’t notice a similar bias in girls/teens/college beginners.

    Interesting, at any rate.

  26. 26
    JaniceG says:

    I also wonder whether people opposed to men writing romance fiction featuring female protagonists even consider this issue in reverse: does anyone think that women writers can’t write believable male characters because they’ll never really understand how the opposite gender thinks?

  27. 27
    Qadesh says:

    I’ve read Charles de Lint’s work, but I don’t think I’ve hit any of the rest of them.  Marta, do you mean Barb and JC Hendee their series is the Saga of the Noble Dead first one is Dhampir? 

    Am I the only one who has had issues with two authors writing a book together?  I find, most of the time, that the differences in the voice of the authors comes out.  I’ve noticed inconsistencies with the writing, and it just bugs the heck out of me. 

    It would be interesting to conduct a survey of the husband/wife teams and find out if they are both writing, or if one plots and one writes, or how they work in general.

  28. 28
    Qadesh says:

    You know Janice, I’ve heard that some men say women writers don’t get the sex right from the male perspective.  Don’t know how accurate that is.

  29. 29
    Just a chick says:

    Although he doesn’t write “romance”, NYT bestselling author, Eric Jerome Dickey writes awesome women’s fiction, doing the female pov amazingly well. He’s a hell of a great writer. He’s an author I plan to get you ladies’ editor hooked on. I owe her. She has gotten me hooked on a few authors, knowing I don’t want to add more to my long enough list ;)

  30. 30

    Hi, my name is Johnny, I am a man and I write romance. Although I usually don’t write in 1st person, my first novella will be published in October was written from the hero’s POV. How well it is received is yet to be seen.

    My current WIPs, I can’t seem to do just one, are written in 3rd person. I am more comfortable writing in this POV and it is a more “gender-neutral” way to write. A love story is about love and interaction. I think a person can look at the interaction of two people and see and feel why the couple are falling in love no matter who writes it. If it is written well.

    Why write romance, or more specifically in my case, paranormal romance? That is easy. When I started to write, no matter what type of story I toyed with, it always ended up with a love interest at its core. Why fight what comes naturally?

    Maybe one day the person at the RT boards, and it was only one who was extremely rude, will be able to say “I used to hate that guy when he was unpublished, now I hate him when I see the bestseller’s list”. That would be sweet.

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