THE BLOG

Diary of a Mad Ghostwriter

04/09/2015 04:41 pm ET | Updated Jun 09, 2015

I would say you have to be a bit ego-less to deal with the people I have ghosted books with over the the past ten years, all for major publishing houses. I've worked with an insecure TV pundit who had ideas galore but that was about it. "Type Sue, type! Just slam it all together and make me an author. I'll be in the Library of Congress," she said as she sat across from me in a string bikini and a Mumu. I learned to play joke-maker to her string of consciuosness. Still, Caroline's Comedy Club hasn't called me, but they've invited her there to perform. Admittedly, she cooked excellent lunch and dinners from Trader Joe's. I loved her Joe's ravioli and accompanying sauce and her Joe's other kind of ravioli topped with another sauce and Joe's parmesen. She also loved her buttery Chardonnay. Yep, Joe's.

We were together the night Whitney Houston died, held hands and toasted her appropriately as the song from The Bodyguard played in the backdrop on the TV and slow-motion pictures of Whitney filled the screen. (You know they're dead when the camera goes slow-mo). I would move in with some of my ghosties. One made me get up at 7 when I preferred 9. She scheduled lunch for high noon, a snack (cashews) for three and dinner at 7. Bed time was 10 p.m. It was like being at hostage book camp. Another ghostie was originally not from this country but is well known for her distinct eye brows. I loved her meals: all home cooked and a culture I had never experienced. But she put a fried egg on top of every dish. I'm a vegetarian and found it odd sitting on top of my yogurt. She was a crazy driver, laughing like Joan Crawford as we drove through the darkened mountainous part of Mullholland Drive, her head in a knotted kerchief, in order to join our agent at a noisy jazz club there.

I don't know why she chose a jazz club for dinner, we could only speak between sets. And the ride home, after she had a few cocktails was like a loopy Joan Crawford on speed. She went to bed at four AM and awoke at noon. (I guess she was still getting used to her homeland hours even though she left it some 30 years ago.) When we finished her book I jumped into her swimming pool in California, clothes on. Then there was the one who I accompanied to a bad part of town in Manhattan as she sold her wedding ring. She was divorced and wanted the cash which I put in my messenger bag. I felt like we were on a money laundering jaunt. She was naughty and hysterical, wrote 300 pages of which we used four.

I think the rest of the book was all just exclamation marks. They all use an abundance of exclamation marks. I'll never understand why when one will be more than sufficient. Another one lead me to the mid-west where we met for breakfast for four days straight at the IHOP before taking me on a tour of big sky country. She was dirt poor and I got all of her advance. I felt so bad, I paid for her morning scrambled eggs and toast, and then for her beers at the brewery where we worked on her book. She rewrote everything and then rewrote it again. I sent her a $1,000 to help with her bills. Except for the famous 70s songstress and complete non-diva, you tend to not hear from them again.

They are mostly arrogant and think they did their book on their own. Sometimes your name appears in the acknowledgement, sometimes not, and sometimes they disguise you as thanking my roofer, Sue Carswell, or my trainer, Sue Carswell, or my hip lawn girl, Sue Carswell. But somehow, you lick your wounds and move on. There are new budding authors to "help," new cuisines to sample, bed time hours to adjust to, and mostly the chance to spend time with great company until you say an ultimate goodbye, when you actually thought you had gained a new friend.