I’m a romantic, I’m a woman and I’m a writer – and I’m privileged to be able to combine these three aspects of myself in my passion, authoring romance novels.
But as a recent Huffington Post article reminded me, not all female writers have had the opportunity to write as themselves; to be open and celebrate their femininity.
I’m thinking of classic writers like the Brontë sisters, who published under the pen names Ellis Bell, Currer Bell and Acton Bell; Mary Ann Evans, who wrote as George Eliot; Louisa May Alcott, who wrote as A. M. Barnard; and Nelle Harper Lee, who dropped her feminine first name in order to write about controversial racial issues.
Of course, these were writers trying to make their way in male-dominated publishing in a different century, and one could easily assume that today it’s a different story entirely. Why, then, was Joanne Rowling advised by her publisher to write under her initials, J.K.? Because there was a feeling that her books would have wider appeal if her gender was less transparent.
I’m grateful that the genre and the period in which I write enable me to be myself as a writer – and to create books that are by a woman, for a woman (though of course I’d be delighted to hear from male readers too!). Although I include passages in my book Burning Embers from the male protagonist’s perspective, I predominantly write from the female point of view, and I enjoy the feminine aspects of a love story – the longing, the dreaming, the agonising over each detail of his behaviour, the beautifying before a date, the attempt to be reserved and aloof despite raging rivers of passion running through the veins…
For me, the freedom to be feminine allows me to create female characters who explore all elements of modern womanhood: beauty, sisterhood, creativity, career, self-esteem and self-knowledge. But most of all, of course, love.