Another Interview with the Ghostwriter

NotebookI’ve finished another edit. I’ve submitted another manuscript. That means I’m two-thirds of the way through my current ghostwriting odyssey, with two novels of a middle-grade fantasy trilogy completed and one to go. Book One is due to be published this summer, with the sequels rolling out in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

When I finished Book One, I subjected myself to an interview with, er, myself, in an attempt to dig under the skin of a ghostwriter (do ghosts have skin?) and see what makes them tick. Second time round, for better or worse, I decided to subject myself to the same ordeal.

Another Interview with the Ghostwriter

So, Graham, the middle book of a trilogy is always a bit crap, isn’t it?

Actually, Graham, I quite like middle acts. For instance, my favourite Star Wars film is The Empire Strikes Back.

Are you seriously comparing the book you’ve just written to The Empire Strikes Back?

No, I just meant …

I mean, is it set on an ice planet?

No, but …

Does it have a squishy green judo frog guru bumbling around in a swamp?

If you mean Yoda, then no it doesn’t exactly …

Does the hero get his hand cut off?

Look, you’re missing the point. All I’m trying to say is that the middle act of a fantasy story provides a great to expand on the world you’ve created and deepen the relationships you set up in the first act. It also lets you spring a few surprises, and set up the pieces on the chessboard ready for the end game that you know is going to play out in act three.

Like I said – you’re just marking time.

There’s no talking to you, is there?

I looked back through the online diaries you kept while you were writing this thing. It seemed like you were having a hard time of it. Has what’s left of your debatable talent finally drained completely away?

I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that. But yes, this one was a toughie. Sequels are tricky in that you have to remind the reader about what’s gone before, without resorting to infodumps or scenes where character say things like, “Well, if you remember, we got into this situation because …” That’s hard to do, but when you get it right, it’s satisfying.

So did you get it right, or did you screw it up royally?

Well, this book was definitely harder to get into than the first one. Having said that, I reckon I nailed the first chapter from the get-go.

Really? How?

It’s a flashback to a scene that happens before the events in Book One. So it’s kind of a stand-alone. Maybe that helped. It’s really a tonal piece that reintroduces a character who doesn’t appear much in the first book, but who becomes increasingly important through the rest of the trilogy. It’s also one of those high stakes, high drama scenes that’s a gift for any writer.

So what happens in this scene?

I can’t say. I’m just the ghostwriter, remember?

Go on. You can tell me.

I really can’t. I’m contractually obliged to remain anonymous, and everything I write is confidential.

Just spill it, moron. It’s not like anybody actually reads this blog.

Can we move on?

You’re no fun. But since you brought up the subject, how do you feel about this whole “ghost in the machine” nonsense now that the first book’s about to be published?

It’s a little weird. The title’s there on Amazon and iTunes for all to see. The cover artwork looks great, and it’s even had a couple of positive reviews from ARC readers.

Raiders of the Lost Ark?

No. “ARC” stands for “Advance Reader Copy”. You know, what publishers send out before publication to drum up publicity.

I knew that.

Anyway, it’s thrilling to see the book finally coming to life, but a little strange that I can’t actually lay claim to it. But having secret knowledge is thrilling in its own way, you know? The whole idea that I know something you don’t.

So when do you start Book Three?

September. I’m looking forward to it. Third acts always have an inbuilt momentum. The storyline isn’t finalised yet, but I’ve no doubt it will be full of action and peril, both of which I love to write. And I enjoy the whole business of wrapping things up. You can find a kind of poetry in resolutions.

Are you seriously trying to tell me ghostwriting is poetry? I thought it was just hackwork.

All writing is poetry. Including prose. And even ghostwriting.

Poetry, schmoetry. Admit it – you’re just in it for the money.

You really don’t have a clue, do you?

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