Male novelist could be first man to win romantic novel award since 1960
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Thursday 13 February 2014
For more than 50 years, female writers have won the top UK award for romantic fiction, and at first 2014 looked to be no different.
But all was not as it seemed. One of the 36 writers shortlisted by the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) for its Romantic Novel of the Year award, Jessica Blair, is in fact a pseudonym of Bill Spence, a 90-year-old war hero. The awards comprise six categories, including Historical Romantic Novel and Young Adult Romantic Novel, and the winners then vie to be named the Romantic Novel of the Year.
Mr Spence’s The Road Beneath Me is in the running for the Epic Romantic Novel category. Should he collect the overall award, he will be the first man to do so since the prize was set up in 1960. Previous winners have included Philippa Gregory, Joanna Trollope and Rosamunde Pilcher.
Mr Spence has written 22 novels as Jessica Blair. He has another book due out this year and next, and is planning a novella in time for Christmas. It is his first time on the RNA award shortlist.
His publishers came up with the pseudonym, he told The Independent. “They asked if I minded… You don’t say no to publishers. I think they wanted to change it because of publicity and promotion.”
He added: “I was delighted to be nominated. It was great recognition just to be on the shortlist. It would be very nice to win and be the first man to do so, but I’m up against a lot of strong competition.”
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Scottish independence: Learn from Quebec's mistakes and beware of promises. Vote Yes.
- 2 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
- 5 Cocaine and cannabis haul hidden in Vatican car seized by French police
Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams cast in new Channel 4 drama about cyber bullying
Downton Abbey: Liam Neeson wants to be a stableman in period drama
Star Wars 7 leaked set photo of Adam Driver changes everything
Friends 20th anniversary: Six things we wouldn't have without the influential comedy series
The Walking Dead season 5 synopsis: Spoilers and existential questions abound
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'