I was delighted to be approached by Annette Hannah to come up with an article on being one of the few male members of the RNA, as part of the RNA’s Diversity Week component of Romance Reading Month. I was equally delighted to accept the challenge.

My involvement with the RNA goes back some eight years, when I bumped into Liz Harris and Mandy James in an online Twitter conversation about the behemoth that is Strictly Come Dancing. One thing led to another, and three years later I found myself retired, living up in York and in the superb New Writer’s Scheme.

A man writing romance is certainly nothing new. There have been several in the past, including Madeleine Brent, who won the Romantic Novel of the Year for Merlin’s Keep, and who was better known as Peter O’Donnell, the author of the Modesty Blaise series of books. In recent times we have also had Roger Sanderson and Bill Spence. Roger, writing as Gill Sanderson, produced almost fifty medical romances for Mills & Boon, while Bill Spence, who wrote as Jessica Blair for Piatkus, has only just stopped writing at the age of 97.

Up until this year, it appeared that there was about 1% of the membership were male. This has increased up to roughly 2%; i.e. about 20 members out of 1000. Note that this is just judging on their names and photos. The RNA does not record the gender of its members. Speaking as one of them, I say bring them on. The more the merrier!!

Gentlemen’s motives for joining the RNA seem to fall into 2 main strands. We join because we know someone who is a member, and they recommend it – either directly or indirectly, or we join because we know the sort of book that we want to write, and the RNA seems to be the “best fit”.

As one friend commented- “It is a well-known scientific fact (and fake news) that only women read Romance and only women write it…..” Well, apparently about 30% of romance readers are male. I read little else, these days – basically because I LOVE reading books written by my friends! I can watch the quality of their writing change over the years.

Should us gentlemen use a female nom-de-plume? The jury is out on this one. Up until recently, ALL male members used a female nom-de-plume. I toyed with it, but my publisher advised against it, because of my existing social media profile. (BIG!)

Several of us have commented on how much they enjoy the ambience. A few non-writing friends have asked me “What’s with you and all these lady writers we keep seeing on Facebook?” My usual reply is along the lines of “Well, it was a big presentation night, and there was me, a dozen other men, and 250 lady writers, all dressed to kill.”

Not a few of us suffer from imposter syndrome. “I wake up wondering if today’s the day the RNA realises their mistake in accepting me and give me a dishonourable discharge. But in the meantime, I’m proud to tell everyone I’m a RNA member.” Alan Williams

A few more short comments from my colleagues:

‘The most supportive and loving set of friends and colleagues you could ever wish for!” Mick Arnold

“I love the association because it brings like minds together in a supportive environment- and men don’t feel out of place.” Conrad Lisk

 When I arrived at my first RNA chapter meeting, I was, as I’d expected, the only man there. I had met other writers in the male male / gay romance genre and was welcomed by the RNA’s female authors just as warmly.

I’ve spent the majority of my adult life in professions, studying or pursuing interests with fewer men than woman; I believe in being true to yourself. I am what I am and I pursue interests regardless of their ‘primary’ audience. And I hope the men, such as myself, who are RNA members, provide a range of perspectives on writing romantic fiction.”  Liam Livings.

Finally, another quote from one of us: ”The RNA and romance in general are, in my opinion, absolutely vital in these troubled times. One thing which the virus can’t extinguish is love. Whether this is written by a woman or a man seems to me irrelevant as long as it warms the heart.” Trevor Williams.

I couldn’t agree more!

About John

John is a British author of historical romances based on his ancestors. His first novel, Heart of Stone, was published in 2017, and concerns his evil ancestor Grandfather, Robert Rochfort, Earl of Belvedere, “The Wicked Earl.” It was short-listed for the 2018 Joan Hessayon prize.

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He is currently working on his second novel, tentatively titled “Strange Bedfellows,” based on the life of Robert Rochfort’s daughter Jane Butler, Lady Lanesborough. Another ancestor with a deeply unconventional life, although not as wicked as her father. John has spent a long time researching his family tree and found a lively lot of ruffians, rogues and chancers, all of whom are conveniently dead, so they can’t sue, and who make great subjects to write about.

John is a keen member of the RNA and graduated through the New Writers Scheme.

He describes his writing style as “Bernard Cornwell meets Jane Austen,” and he only wishes that was true.

You can find more info about him at: www.johnjacksonauthor.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John is a British author of historical romances based on his ancestors. His first novel, Heart of Stone, was published in 2017, and concerns his evil ancestor Grandfather, Robert Rochfort, Earl of Belvedere, “The Wicked Earl.” It was short-listed for the 2018 Joan Hessayon prize.color:#0F1111″>

He is currently working on his second novel, tentatively titled “Strange Bedfellows,” based on the life of Robert Rochfort’s daughter Jane Butler, Lady Lanesborough. Another ancestor with a deeply unconventional life, although not as wicked as her father. John has spent a long time researching his family tree and found a lively lot of ruffians, rogues and chancers, all of whom are conveniently dead, so they can’t sue, and who make great subjects to write about.

John is a keen member of the RNA and graduated through the New Writers Scheme.

He describes his writing style as “Bernard Cornwell meets Jane Austen,” and he only wishes that was true.

You can find more info about him at: www.johnjacksonauthor.com

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