When it comes to romantic novels, we’re most likely to turn to the likes of Jilly Cooper (above) or JoJo Moyes
When it comes to romantic novels, we’re most likely to turn to the likes of Jilly Cooper or JoJo Moyes.
But it seems male authors are breaking through after two men were crowned winners at the Romantic Novel Awards for the first time since the awards were founded in 1960.
Crime writer Kerry Wilkinson and romance and mystery author Marius Gabriel are the first men to be honoured at the ceremony, which had previously been an all-female affair.
Wilkinson, 37, won the young adult category with Ten Birthdays, the story of a teenage girl dealing with the bereavement of her mother.
He is best known for his crime fiction detective series Jessica Daniel.
Gabriel, meanwhile, picked up the award for best historical novel for The Designer, a novel set in Paris, which begins in 1944 with the chance meeting between an American war correspondent and an unknown fashion designer named Christian Dior.
The 67-year-old, known for The Mask Of Time and The Original Sin, had used the female pseudonym Madeleine Ker while writing Mills and Boons novels when he began his career in the 1980’s, but now uses his own name.
After picking up the award, the father of three told The Daily Telegraph: ‘For a long time the conventional wisdom in publishing was that women simply wouldn’t buy a romantic novel written by a man.
‘So there was quite a lot of pressure from my publishers to keep quiet about who I was, in case sales suffered.
‘I suppose it’s love that men are not supposed to enjoy reading or writing about. But my reviews tell me that a good many of my readers are men, so there’.
Other winners at the awards, which took place earlier this month, include Jilly Cooper, who the Romantic Novel Awards described as a ‘Jane Austen of our time’ picked up the Outstanding Achievement Award.
Dani Atkins, meanwhile, won the overall Romantic Novel of the Year award for This Love, about a single 31-year-old translator who works from home, which the judges described as ‘vibrant and captivating’.
Nicola Cornick, chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, said women have become more comfortable reading romantic novels which are written by men.
She said: ‘Women wanted to feel that they were reading stories by women for women, but these days that is an old-fashioned attitude.
But it seems male authors are breaking through after two men were crowned winners at the Romantic Novel Awards for the first time since the awards were founded in 1960
They are increasingly comfortable reading stories by men, and over the last few years there has been an increase in publishers submitting books by men.
‘Writing under a female pseudonym is what used to happen in the 1970s and 1980s.
‘I can think of a number of people who were members but always wrote under a female name.’
Despite Wilkinson and Gabriel being the first men to win under their names, Peter O’Donnell, creator of the Modesty Blaise comic strip, won The Romantic Novel of the Year in 1978 under his pseudonym Madeleine Brent.
It was not known at the time, however, that Madeline Brent was a pseudonym with his publisher picking up the award ‘on her behalf’, explaining that she was in Mexico.
The Association only discovered his true identity in 2009, a year before O’Donnell’s death.
Wilkinson, after picking up his award, said: ‘It was, and is, a story about growing up in a small town.
‘Perhaps men have always written these types of story but they’ve been hidden in different genre types by publishers and editors – people who assume the books won’t sell otherwise, and want a car chase thrown in to make it a bit more blokey.’