Trump and Wikileaks: Being haunted by a ghostwriter
Ghostwriters are mostly a friendly bunch.
We want to help people tell their stories in the most engaging way possible. However sometimes ghost-client relationships can turn sour.
Ghosts can come back to haunt authors. That’s something everyone wants to avoid and can hopefully be averted by regular, clear communication.
A few years ago, author Andrew O’Hagan wrote an account of his unsuccessful attempt to ghost write the autobiography of Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder. In it he pulled back the curtain on what can at times be an uncomfortable relationship.
Assange is, according to O’Hagans accounts, a tricky author to deal with, often changing his mind and ultimately leaving O’Hagan with an unfinished manuscript and a strange tale to tell. Andrew Crofts, arguably the world’s most famous ghostwriter, likens being a ghostwriter to having a “passport into other people’s lives as a trusted confidant.” He adds that a ghost is “probably the least judgemental person they’re going to come across, because even a therapist is looking for angles. But a ghost just keeps asking questions.” When it goes wrong, however, the author can end up with more than they bargained for. Take President Donald Trump’s autobiography, The Art of the Deal.
Trump’s ghost, Tony Schwartz, helped to craft a best selling book containing prescient lines such as: “The point is that if you are a little different, or a little outrageous, or if you do things that are bold or controversial, the press is going to write about you.”
Schwartz helped Trump by penning a punchy, successful business book. However, his closeness may have given him the kind of insight that many fear - opening the President up to a barrage of criticism from a person who knew him well.
That’s something nobody wants and it’s why as a ghostwriter you do everything you can to create a positive working relationship with your client.