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Real Men Write Romance (Really!)
Romance fans tend to be voracious readers, always on the lookout for a new author to follow (or an author who's new to them). With that in mind, I'd like to spotlight a few great romance writers you might not have picked up before. Let me introduce you to Leigh Greenwood, Dale Cramer, Jessica Stirling, Naomi Neale, M. L. Buchman, Lee Carroll, Z. A. Maxfield, and Ilona Andrews.
On the surface they don't seem to have a lot in common, aside from writing great romance. Some are award winners, while others have seen more modest success. They're all over the map, as far as subgenres go: western, inspirational, historical, chick lit, suspense, gothic, LGBT, and urban fantasy/ paranormal. Oh... there is one other detail they all have in common: behind every one of their keyboards sits a male author.
As you can see from this month's list (all male authors of romance-- though some write as half of a male/female team), I sort of cherry-picked the authors I introduced above. I deliberately chose men who write under female pseudonyms, have gender-neutral names, or use their initials. While many male authors have no problem writing romance under their own names, some are more comfortable (or see better sales) using a less obviously masculine moniker. Are they deliberately setting out to fool their readers? Probably not, as most of them make their author photos pretty easy to find. Most likely, they're just trying to make a living.
Romance is still very much a female-dominated genre, both in writers and readers (including gay romance, where you'd expect to find men! They're there, but there are a lot of women writing it-- and reading it-- than you might think). Some authors (like Leigh Greenwood) took their pen names decades ago, when there was more of a stigma attached to men writing "girly" books. Unfortunately, that stigma hasn't entirely disappeared. Reduced sales are a reasonable concern, as some female readers might assume that a man couldn't possibly write a "decent" romance. Female writers in historically male-dominated fields have long used similar tactics-- B. J. Daniels (westerns), P. N. Elrod (mystery), Rob Thurman (urban fantasy/horror), and James Tiptree, Jr. (SF) all chose names that would encourage readers to judge them on the quality of their writing rather than their genders.
Still not convinced a male romance author is worth your time? Try an experiment for me. Make a list of your top five favorite romantic "chick flicks." (If you can't narrow it down to five, don't worry-- it just means a little more work for step two.) Next, head over to IMDb and search the titles on your list. Now, take a look at the names listed under "Writers" (right under the director's name). See any male names there? I'd lay odds that at least half of the writers of your all-time favorite romantic movies are men. And while I'm at it, let me give you one more name: Shakespeare. Some of the most enduring romances in Western literature have his name on the byline.
Still think men can't write romance? You won't know until you try! Why not give one of the authors below a chance to convince you?
A little bonus for this month: two years ago, RT Book Reviews' Daily Blog sat down with four male authors for a look at "Men Writing Romance." Click on their names to check out RT's interviews with Leigh Greenwood, Nico Rosso, Henry McLaughlin, and Wayne Jordan.
And now... vive la différence!
Nothing but a Smile by Steve Amick (Fiction Amick)
Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews (PbkFantasy Andrews)
False Colors by Alex Beecroft (LGBT Beecroft)
The Night Is Mine by M. L. Buchman (PbkRomance Buchman)
Black Swan Rising by Lee Carroll (Fantasy Carroll)
The Captive Heart by Dale Cramer (Fiction Cramer)
The Girl She Used To Be by David Cristofano (Fiction Cristofano)
Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer (Fiction Crusie)
Liar's Game by Eric Jerome Dickey (Fiction Dickey)
The Smoke Jumper by Nicholas Evans (Fiction Evans)
Borders of the Heart by Chris Fabry (Fiction Fabry)
Love Virtually by Daniel Glattauer (Fiction Glattauer)
Comeback Love by Peter Golden (Fiction Golden)
Heart of a Texan by Leigh Greenwood (PbkRomance Greenwood)
Troubled Range by Andrew Grey (LGBT Grey)
Basketball Jones by E. Lynn Harris (Fiction Harris)
To Love You More by Wayne Jordan (PbkRomance Jordan)
Drawn Together by Z. A. Maxfield (LGBT Maxfield)
Journey to Riverbend by Henry McLaughlin (PbkRomance McLaughlin) (COMING SOON)
Sweet Misfortune by Kevin Alan Milne (Fiction Milne)
An Accomplished Woman by Jude Morgan (Fiction Morgan)
A Good Man by J. J. Murray (PbkRomance Murray)
Calendar Girl by Naomi Neale (Fiction Neale)
The Wings of Morning by Murray A. Pura (Fiction Pura)
Night of Fire by Nico Rosso (PbkRomance Rosso)
The Wedding Beat by Devan Sipher (Fiction Sipher)
The Orchard by Jeffrey Stepakoff (Fiction Stepakoff)
Shadows on the Shore by Jessica Stirling (LP Stirling)
Chemistry for Beginners by Anthony Strong (Fiction Strong)
Hot Head by Damon Suede (LGBT Suede)