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The Life of a Ghostwriter

Andrew Crofts was described in the Independent as 'the king of modern ghosts'. Here he gives an insight into what ghostwriters' lives are really like...

Ghostwriters have been enjoying a large dose of the spotlight recently, thanks to the recently released film 'The Ghost'. It paints a sharp picture of what our lives are like, alerting people to our existence in a way that usually only happens when media commentators want to reprimand authors like Katie Price or Mr and Mrs Prezza for 'not even writing their own books.'

The 'hero' of the film is somewhere between a private eye and an investigative journalist, leading an episodic life where brief adventures alternate with the traditional seclusion of the writing process.

Even Jeremy Paxman recently admitted he hadn’t had time to do 'most of the legwork' on his book about the Victorians and that he had called in a professional writer. Paxman’s honesty is a little ray of sunshine.

Compelling stories, well presented

As well as scientists, business gurus, historians and politicians, the non-writers who put their names to books might be footballers, actors, singers, comedians, people remembering their childhoods or recounting how they have met angels and been saved from bipolar hell by the love of a good cat.

Ghostwriters are a bit like barristers, listening to our clients’ stories and then presenting those stories for them in the most compelling way we can manage.

So, is 'The Ghost' an accurate portrayal of what our lives are like? Do we really enjoy such adventures and receive invitations into such closed and secretive worlds?

All I can say is that a year ago, while filming for 'The Ghost' was under way, I was responding to an urgent invitation to a mysterious private island in Bermuda to meet with a secretive British futurologist who has recently donated a hundred million pounds to Oxford University for the foundation of a school to study the problems of the 21st century.

What else?

During the London Book Fair I took time out to have dinner with Zippy from Rainbow... and in between those two events I was flown to meet the ruler of a medium-sized country who thought it was time to become an author and produced a book for the mother of an X-Factor winner. 

Fun - what do you think?

Andrew Crofts has written over 40 ghosted books and one novel 'Maisie's Amazing Maids' with a ghostwriter as the central character. He is the author of the 'Freelance Writers' Handbook' (Piatkus) and 'Ghostwriting' (A&C Black). Click to visit Andrew's website.

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