Just recently I reluctantly answered an invitation from a local school to speak on the subject of writing autobiographies. I’m not a natural public speaker, but it was one of those can’t-think-quickly-enough-to-get-out-of-it moments and so I ended up in front of an entire year group of cynical 10 and 11-year olds.
I delivered what I hoped was a confident and interesting talk, giving a few anecdotes along the way about the people I have worked with. I elaborated on what I think makes books interesting and about the various unexpected things I have discovered through the interviews I have done through my book writing career. I said how fortunate I felt at meeting so many extraordinary people and being able to ask them anything I wanted. At the end of my half hour speech, the teacher asked the kids if they wanted to ask any questions and to my amazement about thirty hands shot up.
Picking out a kindly looking young fellow from the front row, I asked him how I could help.
“Your job is so cool,” he glowed. “How do I become a ghost writer?”
So, that is it. After years working in the shadows as a ghost, I have finally become cool!
On a serious note though, ghostwriting is beginning to carve out a bit of a niche for itself of late. Instead of being the guilty secret that no one really mentions, people are becoming much more open about saying they’ve collaborated with a ghost. In his Guardian blog of November last year, the literary commentator Robert McCrum, went as far as listing ‘Ghost Lit’ as a genre all of its own.
A number of my most recent clients have been very open about it indeed. Better still, many of the people who I work with see it as a badge of honour that they have worked with an experienced author. They are talented and professional and know everything about their field, and luckily they see the same qualities in me. It makes sense that we all do what we are good at to get the best possible end product.
So, it is pretty cool to be cool.