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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Can a man write romantic pulp fiction?

"Can a man really write a Mills & Boon?" asks the BBC newsletter in the arts and entertainment section. (American readers, think "Harlequin.")

Apparently a broad-shouldered Yorkshireman who goes weight training three times a week, climbs mountains in the weekends, and enjoys a drink with his rugby-playing friends churns out four romances a year, and sees his work do well in 26 different countries.

Now an active member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, Roger Sanderson (pictured) would have been a soldier if life hadn't beckoned him in another direction. He was making a sort of living out of writing scripts for commando comics when he just happened to pick up one of his daughter's Mills & Boons, and was hooked. Initially, he co-wrote with his wife Gill, but soon took over her name and did it alone.

"Today," as BBC writer Peter Jackson reveals in the story, "he specialises in medical romances, setting many of his stories in the Lake District around chisel-jawed doctors, with hearts either beating or melting."

Roger reckons he has all the qualifications, being happily married and knowing what it is like to be in love. But how does he know what it is like for a woman to be in love? That, he admits, is difficult. Men like to know how physical things work, while women are interested in relationships and what makes them work.

An unusual success story, which poses a couple of questions. Does Roger tell his rugby mates what he does to make a living? And is he the only male who writes for Mills & Boon (or Harlequin)? I seem to have a vague memory of a bloke in Tasmania who wrote under the name of Victoria Gordon.

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