Recently I read my diary entry from about a year ago when I was working in Malaysia:
‘Bizarre ghost-writing adventures number 327: spent the morning trying to get the missing pieces of X’s story. He had to fit in a workout before a series of meetings which would take up the rest of the day. I and my iPhone followed him round his personal gym – seven stories up with stunning views of Kuala Lumpur – recording his thoughts, stories and observations as he toiled away on a cross-trainer. After 45 minutes, he stopped, draped a towel round his shoulders and walked out of the gym into … his sauna. I sat with him for the next half an hour, asking him questions while trying to bat away the persistent thought that my iPhone was melting …’
Reading this entry got me thinking that the traditional view of the writer, chained to the desk, muttering at the walls, hammering away at a keyboard, doesn’t always apply to ghost writers. We have to be supremely adaptable – able to work under the most distracting conditions. So I asked my colleagues at United Ghostwriters about some of the more unusual locations and situations they’ve found themselves in. Turns out a sauna in Kuala Lumpur is not that outlandish at all.
Most of the stories need more page-room than a blog post can provide, so here are just a few snapshots of ghosts ‘in the field’.
There are the exotic locations: a luxury yacht off the coast of Mauritius; speeding around Monaco in a vintage car; on a yacht (again) in the eastern Mediterranean researching the Eurozone crisis while everyone else was sunbathing; conducting an interview flying to Delhi from London in first class (but then returning on the next flight out of Delhi … economy).
Then there are the bizarre: sitting next to a farmer on an ear-drum shattering, chip-fat fuelled tractor as it ploughed its way up and down a field; on; at a boxing weigh-in surrounded by about 100 body-builders and tattoos … so many tattoos; in a garden after dusk with Jade Goody’s mum keeping an eye out for paparazzi trying to jump the fence.
The uncomfortable: being slobbered over by a pack of giant dogs at an author’s country estate; interviewing a very elderly gentleman who, it appeared, had nodded off – regrettably he’d had a mini-stroke; the sauna probably fits into this category too.
The slightly less exotic: a meeting room off Platform 1 of Victoria station; every kind of work place, laboratory or consulting room; homes ranging from council flats to country estates and of course, trains, cars and long walks.
And sometimes, simply, the lobby of the local Premier Inn.
Ghosts are an adaptable bunch.