To many, the world of the ghostwriter is a peculiar one, shrouded in secrecy. But there is no mystery to the profession: it’s a ghosts job to write someone else memoirs on their behalf, and bring their story to life in a cohesive, compelling and entertaining way.
For six years now, it has provided me with a wonderful and varied source of income. I have met some incredible men and women who have inspired me, made me laugh and cry in equal measure, and whom I can honestly say, I feel privileged to have met. The very fact that someone trusts you enough to take their life history and bring it to life in literary form is humbling. The biggest way you can repay that trust is not to impose your voice over theirs and ensure that what you write remains authentic to them.
The ghostwriting world is of course peopled with other ghosts and once every three months I would meet fellow writers in a London pub and this is of course how the idea for this unique ghostwriters collective came to be born.
Along my ghostwriting journey, I have shared innumerable pots of tea with Brenda Ashford, Britain’s oldest living nanny and the closest living person you will ever get to Mary Poppins. Then there was irrepressible Mollie Moran, whose saucy antics as a 1930s scullery maid, made Phillip Schofield blush on This Morning, and who at 96, became the oldest author ever to top the Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller list when her memoir, Aprons and Silver Spoons was published by Penguin. Who knew a butler’s bum could be so firm you could bounce a penny off it? And I could never forget the harrowing story that Jennie Smith confided in me. Jennie was one of Britain’s early domestic violence pioneers and the first woman ever through the doors of a refuge in the 1970s, back in the days when police regarded it a mans right to beat his wife. When Jennie revealed her inspiring story to me in her tiny kitchen over plates of Oxtail stew, we had no idea her book too would goon to become a Sunday Times bestseller.
I feel proud to have had a hand in, and shaped the stories of these astonishing women. Do you have a bestselling book in you? Brenda, Jennie didn’t believe so to begin with, but thousands of readers have proved them wrong.
Kate Thompson is the author of nine bestselling fiction and non-fiction books.