If you buy a Ferrari you do not expect to drive it home and find the words made by Nissan in small type. If you buy a bottle of premium aged Scotch Whisky, you would not expect to pour yourself a glass, then suddenly see the words Product of bootleg distillery North Korea on the label.
If we think such analogies seem far fetched why then are we, the reading public, falling for the latest trend in mass market publishing? We are, of course, talking about ghost writing, the alarming phenomenon where brand name authors use other people to write their books for them.
Ghost writing is not new, such writers have long been employed, to great effect, in the world of biography. This is often necessary, as the subjects of such biographies, musicians, TV celebrities and politicians, for example, are often too drunk, illiterate, or busy chasing prostitutes to put pen to paper. Ghost writers are also useful when the author or subject happens to be dead, which is perhaps where the term originates.
But it is here that we start to enter a grey area. There is an increasing trend for great characters, such as James Bond and Sherlock Holmes, to be revisited by modern writers. Fair enough you might say, we like Bond and Holmes and we do not care who writes the stories. Fleming and Conan Doyle were hideous old hacks anyway and really lucked out, by managing to think up winning characters and a formula that made money.
You have to ask yourself at this point, would it be acceptable if new novels by Shakespeare, Dickens, or Hemingway were commissioned. No way, I hear you cry. It is impossible to create new literature by great authors. Quite right too. But don’t think big publishing hasn’t thought about it bub, they just haven’t found the right ghost writer yet.
Crimezine can forgive dead writers for most behaviour. We can also forgive writers such as Dashiell Hamett and Raymond Chandler for writing only a handful of books, these great men were far too busy drinking themselves to death to be troubled with the actual process of writing books, such trifling matters did not concern them.
What does trouble Crimezine and many of our noble readers too however, is the alarming trend for rich, sober and amazingly successful writers, many of whom are mysteriously still alive, paying other less successful writers to do their work for them.
One has to ask one self just how busy can these millionaire writers be? and if they do not have time to write their own books, just what exactly are they doing instead? Golf? Three Card Brag? Counting all the money that we gave them in the first place?
Crimezine’s shrewd friends in the publishing industry caution that brand development and extension is important, as some of the old duffers who write our favorite works of fiction are knocking on a bit, and it is best to ease their loyal public into familiarity with new faces, before the oldsters finally shuffle of their collective mortality and head for that great remainder list in the sky. Good business sense. Hurrah!
Crimezine says that unless you are dead, or laying drunk on the kitchen floor, we ain’t going to accept anyone else doing your homework for you. If you are feeling too old, fat and lazy to write your own books, step away from the word processor and let the knew talent write—using their own names.