Meet Bill Spence, Romance-Novel-Writing Grandpa

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Breaking: U.K. man can imagine what it might be like to be a woman. This week, the Daily Mail revealed romance novelist Jessica Blair to be Bill Spence, an 89-year-old grandfather and World War II hero.

When the Wall Street Journal reported that women writers still need to take a male or gender-neutral pen name in order to break into the science fiction scene, we wondered whether the reverse was true for romance novels. Are readers more likely to pick up a bodice-ripper if it appears to be written by a woman? Turns out, the answer is yes. Spence, who began his career writing Westerns, was given the pen name by his publisher when he decided to use research he’d done for a non-fiction book to set a romantic novel in a nineteenth-century whaling town.

Spence told the Mail that he was just grateful that someone wanted to publish his books, under any name, and that he tried to think in a “female way” when writing.  “I suppose some men may suppose their masculinity had been questioned, but it has never bothered me.” His late wife found it “amusing.”

Meet Bill Spence, Romance-Novel-Writing Grandpa