My basic belief about the making of stories is that they pretty much make themselves. The job of the writer is to give them a place to grow. Stories are found things, like fossils in the ground. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible.—Stephen King
Our current production of Ghost-Writer raises many questions, as all great mysteries do, the most important being, “where do stories come from?” And with many great plays, that question is not directly answered. Another question raised regards the author’s voice and the idea that a novel can be in an author’s voice yet not be from the author’s hand. That said, I’ve found some interesting facts and information about the realm of ghostwriting from Derek Lewis, a business writer based in Baton Rouge, LA. As a ghostwriter himself, Derek helps business professionals write their next great business book. In case you’re new to the concept, in true ghostwriting, the author authors the book; the ghostwriter translates their thoughts into words. Put another way: the author can write the book without the ghostwriter, but the ghostwriter cannot write the book without the author.
For instance, did you know that the following authors utilized the services of a ghostwriter?
- Alexandre Dumas in The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo
- Michael Crichton in Latitudes (finished posthumously)
- Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond
- R. L. Stine, author of the children’s series Goosebumps
- Tom Clancy
- Robert Ludlum
- James Patterson
- Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve
- Hilary Clinton in Living History, acknowledging Maryanne Vollers
- Sarah Palin, U.S. presidential candidate and governor of Alaska, in Going Rogue, with Lynn Vincent
- Ronald Reagan in his autobiography An American Life
- General Norman Schwarzkopf in It Doesn’t Take a Hero, “with Peter Petre”
Here are some of the more famous business authors who wrote their books with ghostwriters:
- Stephen Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People with Ken Shelton
- Jack Welch in Jack: Straight From the Gut, “with John Byrne”
- Lee Iaccoca in Iaccoca, “with William Novak”
- Donald Trump in The Art of the Deal, “with Tony Schwartz”
- Howard Schultz in Onward, “with Joanne Gordon”
- John Maxwell in fifty books with Charlie Wetzel
- Richard Branson in Losing My Virginity, acknowledging Edward Whitley
- Andy Grove, chairman of Intel, in Only the Paranoid Survive, “with Catherine Fredman”
- Chris Gardner in The Pursuit of Happyness (inspiring the film with Will Smith), “with Quincy Troupe”
- Meg Whitman in The Power of Many “with Joan O’C. Hamilton”
- Dave Longaberger in Longaberger: An American Success Story, acknowledging Robert L. Shook
- Sam Walton in Made in America, “with John Huey”
And then here are some surprising ghostwriting pieces of trivia (and gossip):
- It’s not proven, but many academics accept it as fact that the Bard of Avon used a ghostwriter. Yes, even Shakespeare couldn’t keep up with Shakespeare’s genius.
- Mozart ghostwrote music for other composers early in his career for wealthy patrons who wanted to give the impression they were gifted composers.
- There is a strong suspicion that President Ulysses S. Grant’s autobiography was ghostwritten by none than his longtime friend, Mark Twain.
- Despite a libel suit disputing the fact, JFK’s Profiles in Courage was likely a product of his close collaboration with Ted Sorensen.
A million thanks for the generosity of Derek Lewis for his willingness to allow me to share this information. If you’re curious about Derek and what he does in the realm of business thought leadership books, check out his website by clicking here.
Ghost-Writer at the Commonweal has just four more performances on the calendar and you can reserve your choice right here on the website.
See you at the theatre…Jeremy