Monday, May 31, 2021

The Juggling Bookie: Invisible

Ghost writers used to be invisible. Consider the Holy Ghost Writers who ‘took dictation’ from God for the biblical canon. Most were swept into the ranks of Anon, or worse, had their books named after someone else. 

Back when this column was written I surfed the Net to see if being a Christian ghost writer was a common trade, and found one called Charlene Davis. Charlene (who, to keep the record straight, is a Christian writer rather than a Christian ghost) used to run a site called At that time it had an interactive CD containing 42,000 family recipes; a downloadable e-book: Make Your Own Gift Baskets!; and generous five-days-a-week Tips For Busy Moms!  

All accompanied by exclamation marks!!

Now when you try and link to busymomsrecipes it seems to take you to some dark place on the Internet. 

One of Charlene’s ghost-writing ventures was: The Ultimate Baby Naming eBook – its ‘proper’ author was Jesse Horowitz. The book, we’re told, contains the 21 Biggest Mistakes To Avoid in Naming Your Baby!  (“How to make absolutely certain that you’ve considered all possible religious interpretations of any name before deciding on it…”)   And a foolproof, new way to choose the perfect name for your baby!!   

Charlene is also an editor. I’m sure she’s pleased that editors, like most ghost writers, are invisible. One of her recent jobs was: Confessions of a Womanizer! by Stephen E. Chatman.  (Note her influence in the exclamation mark!!)

On her site Stephen E. Chatman made the following claim: “Ordinary men can't compete [with me] because I am not a regular adorer of women. I am specialized, a champion of sexual desire.”

Hmm. Such comments make me, as a man, want to be invisible.

I said earlier that invisibility was the main trait of ghost-writing. No more.

The famous Left Behind series had a very visible ghost writer in the person of Jerry Jenkins. It appears that Tim Lahaye’s contributions to this series consisted of the original idea and thirty-page outlines for each book, or approximately one thirteenth of the total series. Lahaye’s name sold the books, but the person who did the hard graft was Jerry Jenkins.

Lahaye expanded his outlining skills. Babylon Rising was the first of a new series that would be “a little
lighter theologically,” with an archaeologist hero similar to Indiana Jones.

Then the visible ghost writer was Greg Dinallo, who is mostly known for several fast-paced Cold War thrillers written around the early 90s. Whether he suited Lahaye’s fastidious readers is another matter: the comment of one reviewer regarding Dinallo’s own novel, Red Ink, is a little ominous: ‘I would have preferred if this book had been written in invisible ink.’

Maybe there’s something to be said for being unacknowledged, after all.

This piece first appeared in The Juggling Bookie column in the New Zealand Anglican magazine,TaongaIt was written in 2004. The version above has been updated.         

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