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.