Today is Valentine's Day, which is usually considered the most romantic of holidays, a day when our society celebrates monogamous, often heterosexual, love. It is no surprise, then, that romance novels become a topic of conversation this time of year. They are read by women, the recipients of most Valentine's Day gifts and the people our society believes are obsessed with romantic love.
It is only "news" that Spence is the mind behind Jessica Blair's novels because we assume that only women can write for women and that men would not want to.
Spence says that while writing these romance novels, "I have got to think in a female way" and "I just love doing it." Both of these statements fly in the face of our assumptions about men and the heavily gendered rendering of the romance genre.
In the Daily Mail article on Spence, the author explains why he adopted the pseudonym two decades ago: "You do not say no to publishers. I was just very glad I had found someone who wanted to print my books, and it didn't bother me at all that I'd been given a female name." Why would it bother him? "I suppose some men may suppose their masculinity had been questioned, but it has never bothered me."
Everyone's been talking about Jonathan Franzen's new book, Freedom. While book reviewers raved and readers waited with great anticipation for the August 31st release date, authors Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner both saw all the hype as a platform from which to start asking questions about why books written by women don't get this kind of attention.
Shobhaa Dé came to the Indian publishing scene in the late-1980s like a South Asian Jackie Collins and has been credited with paving the way for a new generation of female Indian writers who represent a subsection of modern India that doesn't receive enough international attention: the über elite. Dé's cheeky, Bollywood-inspired chick lit novels feature storylines set in Mumbai's high society that have captivated the imaginations of the country's newly emerging and rapidly growing middle class—male and female alike—who fantasize about being able to live like their favorite Hindi film stars. Fifteen bestselling books later, Penguin India recently announced a new addition to its roster that will start making its way into bookstores next year: Shobhaa Dé Books.