The LifeBook team enjoyed a fun visit and sushi lunch last week with one of our accomplished writers, Fay Wrixon, who came to visit our Godalming office. On this occasion, Fay wanted to discuss a new bespoke commission she is about to begin with Caroline, who leads LifeBook’s bespoke project team. Fay has written a number of books with us in her capacity as a ghostwriter and wanted to make the most of her visit by meeting the team she has worked so closely with on each of these titles. It was lovely for us to put a face to the voice on the phone. We encourage all our authors, interviewers and ghostwriters to visit the LifeBook office and meet our dedicated team.
After our lunch, Fay was kind enough to respond to some of our questions about being a LifeBook ghostwriter.
I was on holiday on a Greek beach, relishing the opportunity to read the newspaper from start to finish. LifeBook had a series of advertisements that week and it occurred to me, as I lounged and sipped countless coffees, that they may be looking for writers. I rang on my return to England and luckily for me, they were.
I have enjoyed them all for different reasons but there is one author I will always remember. Audrey was reluctant to share her life story and did so only at her family’s insistence. The challenge was to convince her it was a worthwhile project, which it was. By the time we had finished the book I thought of her as the grandmother I never had, in spite of the fact we had never met or even talked, and she had a book of which she was justifiably proud.
My favourite part is definitely the end. All of the projects take up a lot of mind-space and you are always thinking of alternative ways to best capture what the author wants to express. The satisfaction when you have finished the task makes you smile for a good week.
The biggest challenge is being invisible. A ghostwriter has to capture the author’s personality ‘untainted’ so that when anyone who knows him or her reads the book they hear only one voice – that of the author. The other interesting challenge is to translate oral stories onto the page in an authentic but vivid way so that the reader wants to keep reading.
The most important aspect for the interviewer is to LISTEN. Often, much of what the author often wants to say is never actually said but lies in the pauses and tangential stories. A good interviewer will always keep hold of the thread and follow it wherever it leads. I think a writer must be sensitive to how stories are expressed and remember just how much one can write between the lines. As for the author – the key, I think, is honesty. Tell it as it was, not how they would have liked it to have been!
This is a question that could keep me occupied for a long time. I would be tempted to use an opening quotation in the book and a hot contender would be one from Ye Wearie Wayfarer by the Australian poet, Adam Lindsay Gordon, “Life is mostly froth and bubble, two things stand like stone, kindness in another’s trouble, courage in your own.” Trite maybe, but true. In that case my LifeBook would be called Froth & Bubble. Alternatively the title could just be ‘The Margins of Error’, which is where I seem to spend a fair amount of time!
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