Monday’s Confession: I’ve been a bad, bad ghostwriter

couple-1299677_640You probably know what ghostwriting is. It’s writing for somebody who pretends to be a book’s real author. Examples you may have heard of include presidential candidates, movie stars, sports stars, reality TV stars and others more skilled at being famous than constructing readable prose.

But the ghostwriting world is bigger than you think. It also includes folks who actually can write, but cannot, by themselves, keep up with the demand for their books. Readers of genre fiction often want several novels a year from their favorite author or series protagonist. And as most writers have families and lives and stuff, they need help. That’s where ghostwriters come in. They get paid – sometimes a lot, mostly very little – to write books other people get the credit for.

In the ghostwriting realm, I’ve written crime fiction, adventure, non-fiction and I’ve written those personality quizzes that annoy you on Facebook as well as dialogues to assist English as second language learners. But given the title of this post, you probably didn’t click this to get the low-down on any of those. You want to know about my naughty fiction. Here goes:

I’ve written ‘steamy’ romantic tales. Not quite porn, but not something you read to your twelve-year-old at bedtime. These are romance novels, but with a broader, more open-minded understanding of ‘romance’ than the bodice-ripping yarns your grandmother pretended she didn’t read. Tortured moans and quivering thighs are not uncommon in that world.

For a guy raised on Prince records and reruns of the Benny Hill show, the steamy element didn’t trouble me much. More troubling was the idea that I didn’t qualify as a ‘real’ writer. Romance novels were, at least according the stereotypes, for lonely housewives and the semi-literate. James Baldwin didn’t go there. Nor did Fitzgerald or Faulkner or Nobokov (and no, Lolita was not a love story).

I suppose I’d feel a lot less remorseful if somebody here could confess to having read several books of the genre. Or just one.

Anybody? Please?

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