My real name is Bill Spence. Jessica Blair came into being when my publisher, Piatkus, accepted my first historical saga and declared that, for various reasons, they would prefer to publish it under a female name and they suggested Jessica Blair.
I was born in Middlesbrough in 1923. I trained as a teacher but never followed the profession as war intervened. I served in the RAF as a bomb aimer doing thirty-six operational flights in Lancasters of 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron Bomber Command. After the war
I was sent to Rhodesia by the RAF.
It was on the voyage to Durban that I wrote my first short story and was bitten by the writing bug. On return to England I wrote articles for newspapers and magazines and fulfilled my desire to write a novel by using some war time experiences as background.
My second book was a Western and 36 were published between 1960 and 1993. During that time two more
war novels and a romance appeared in print. Along with my wife, Joan, I wrote three books dealing with aspects of Yorkshire. I started a review column in the
Yorkshire Gazette and Herald and that is now in its fortieth year.
Visits to Whitby, on the Yorkshire coast, sparked off an interest in whaling and ten years intermittent research into the subject resulted in the publication of an illustrated history. It was from this study that the Jessica Blair novels arose. The first of these appeared in 1992 and a new phase in my writing career began.
There have been twenty-one Jessica Blair novels published to date (March 2012). The next one is in the publisher’s hands. All Jessica Blair novels are available in hardback, paperback, ebook, audio download, and Large Print.
Writing was a part-time occupation until 1977 when, with the full support of my wife,
Joan, it became full-time. Throughout my whole writing career I have had her, and my four
children's, unstinting support, advice, and inspiration.
I moved into the computing age very early on when I purchased a word processor which had
everyone amazed at the ability to manoeuvre words, sentences, paragraphs and whole pages
at will. Since then I have updated the equipment twice in order to keep abreast of the
wider facilities for authors offered in the modern world of computing. That equipment came
with me when I moved to a family home in the village of Ampleforth on the death of my wife
Though much of my writing life revolves around the computer I realise it is essential for
a writer to keep personal contact with people. As part of this I attend the meetings of
the Northern Branch of the Romantic Novelists' Association near Harrogate once a month
when we catch up on what we are all doing, exchange ideas, meet new authors and share the
exchanges over a pleasant meal.
I am a member of
the Society of Authors,
the Romantic Novelists Association,
Bomber Command Association,
National Geographic Society,
Scarborough Writers Circle.