As many readers assume, the world of the romance novel is a case study in female desires told from the women themselves. But what if some of these authors were simply hiding behind the guise of a female name? The romance genre has churned out quite a few male authors who seem to be giving ladies a run for our money, but very few of them own up to their true identities. Here's a look at some of the men behind the pseudonyms.
Leigh Greenwood's gender has evaded most readers of his published collection for more than twenty five years. He's known for his tales of Southern lust often involving country girls and rugged cowboysl. Greenwood (a.k.a. Harold Lowry) does not see his gender as a hindrance in his success as a romance novelist because he believes that men are indeed romantic, but "there are just cultural obstacles prohibiting readers from seeing male authors in that light.
Thomas Elmer Huff
Thomas Elmer Huff was a best selling author of twenty-three gothic and romance novels under many pen names such as Edwina Marlow, Beatrice Parker, Katherine St. Clair, and Jennifer Wilde. Huff's writing style was noted for having strong first person narratives from the heroine's perspective, something many male writers continue to struggle with.
Bill Spence, aka Jessica Blair, is a grandfather, father of four, and World War II vet who has published 22 romance novels over the course of his life. He was previously published as a western writer before deciding to delve into the romance genre. Publishers asked that he assume a female name in order to better the reception of the novels, which Bill did not mind at all. He claims that you do not say no to publishers, and he was happy the books were well received regardless if his name and gender was a mystery. Some fans are surprised by this revelation, but the authenticity of the female voice has not been questioned.
Peter O'Donnel was another writer whose success in the field forced his gender to be a secret for more than twenty years, despite the huge popularity of his gothic romance novels. He was always addressed as Madeleine Brent when receiving correspondence from publishers and fans, and in order to authenticate his feminine facade, O'Donnel had his wife sign the letters he sent for authenticity.
Husband and wife writing team, Wendy and Frank Bennan, collaborated under the pseudonym Emma Darcy for the apex of romance publishers: Harlequin. Together they wrote 45 romance novels before Frank's death in 1995, and now Wendy continues to write the novels on her own. Some may say that the success of the novels can be attributed to Wendy's feminine input, but multiple interviews by the couple reveal that their goal in writing was to eliminate what they wanted in the novels and focus on their audience instead. Their teamwork shows that, romance authors can --and should be-- seen as gender neutral.
Written by Alta Swyers