Popular British romance novelist 'Jessica Blair' proven to be an 89-year-old man
Author Bill Spence says publisher convinced him to use female pseudonym
Romance novels, read voraciously by women, are dominated chiefly by women authors. Harlequin, the United States' foremost publisher of romance novels, for years had a females-only author policy. Many men submitted such novels under a female pen name, to see their work published - since then, Harlequin has accepted works by male authors. It still comes as a shock to discover that popular British author Jessica Blair is in fact, an 89-year-old grandfather.
While there is heightened interest in the longtime held literary secret, Bill Spence says he has always been forthright about his secret identity and revealed it in a 2010 interview.
"Jessica Blair came into being when my publisher, Piatkus, accepted my first historical saga and declared that, for various reasons, they would prefer to publish it under a female name," Spence writes on his Web site. "And they suggested Jessica Blair."
While there is heightened interest in the longtime held literary secret, Spence says he has always been forthright about his secret identity. He revealed in a 2010 interview how the alter-ego came about.
"Well when I first wrote the first Jessica Blair novel, 'The Red Shawl', it was submitted under my own name," he told a podcast on the U.K.'s Southside Broadcasting. "The publishers said 'We like this book but we would like to publish it under a female name. Would you mind if we published it under Jessica Blair?' Well, you don't say no to publishers."
Spence agrees it was good for the success of the books. "The chief character is a woman, and ladies buy more books and read more books than men do," he says. "So it was a marketing ploy, really."
In order to come across as a convincing female author, Spence said he often double-checked his work with the women in his family.
"With all writing, I've got to be every character in my book, good or bad, male or female," he said. "You've got to be something of an actor, I suppose. I'm fortunate in that my wife, my late wife, and my daughters were all interested in my writing and I would give them pieces to read and say, is that ok from a woman's point of view, and they would say yes or no."
A father of four, Spence once served in the Royal Air Force and has been writing since 1950. He says he didn't devote himself to the profession "full-time" until 1977.
Despite his willingness to reveal the truth behind Jessica Blair, don't expect to see Spence's name on his books anytime soon. "I'm Jessica Blair now and the publishers want me to keep producing them," he said.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Celebrity News
- Vasculitis: The disease behind the slow, painful death of comedian Harold Ramis
- Iconic Eighties comedian Harold Ramis dies at 69
- Devo guitarist Bob Casale dies from heart failure at 61
- 'Father Walton' actor Ralph Waite dies at 85
- Comedian and TV pioneer Sid Caesar dies at 91
- Movie star Maximilian Schell dies at the age of 83
- Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman dead from apparent heroin overdose
- All dressed up with someplace to show - America goes crazy for 'costume play'
- 'Uncle Phil,' actor James Avery dies after heart surgery
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?