Tom Clancy doesn't write his own books!!!
September 27, 2000 10:13 AM   Subscribe

Tom Clancy doesn't write his own books!!! While not totally surprising, somewhat disappointing if the story and rumors are true.
posted by da5id (9 comments total)
I once heard a theory that Steven King's books were written by a ring of seven housewives living in Texas.

Seriously, how could a secret so fun to tell be kept a secret for so long? No chance.
posted by geir at 10:24 AM on September 27, 2000

So, you're saying that, rather than Tom Clancy actually BEING the worst writer since the invention of paper, he is, in fact IMPERSONATING that writer.

Hell, if I were Clancy, I would have started the rumor myself and paid handsomely for its propagation.
posted by Optamystic at 11:09 AM on September 27, 2000

I was under the impression that the ghost-written stuff was the "created by" series like NetForce and Power Plays.
posted by harmful at 11:13 AM on September 27, 2000

posted by thirteen at 11:21 AM on September 27, 2000

Aw. <kick> <shuffle>

As I've noted in a couple of venues before, from reading several of the knock-off series', I'm pretty well convinced that the "invaluable contribution[s] to the manuscript" made by writers such as Jeff Rovin (and about 4 others) is writing them. The styles are fairly consistent from one book to the next in a given series, and they diverge widely both from one another, and from the 'franchise' novels, the latest of which I wrote an e-pinion about last month.

Amusingly enough, I think he's going to have to cop to that in his defense over her accusation that he's not writing *those*, either; I wouldn't be surprised if he threatened to sue her; this is a pretty serious accusation, leveled against a writer as far up the A-list as TC.

B&D ain't Cardinal or PG, but it ain't R6, neither. He's redeemed himself, for at least one more hardcover.

But I *did* read the first 150 or so pages at Borders before checking out. ;-)
posted by baylink at 12:40 PM on September 27, 2000

Does this mean I can employ someone to read the books, so that I don't have to?
posted by holgate at 3:04 PM on September 27, 2000

I should stress that I’ve never read a full Tom Clancy novel and have no opinion on whether or not his material has been written by a ghostwriter.

But in general, ghostwriting is a lot more common than we think.

Almost all books by celebrities are ghostwritten to some degree, from a quick smoothing-out rewrite all the way up to being completely written by the ghost. Naomi Campbell's novel Swan, for example, was written entirely by a ghostwriter, even though Naomi was given full credit on the cover and copyright inside. (A fact that probably doesn’t surprise anyone.) People like Bill Cosby are at least honest enough to acknowledge their ghostwriters through their dedications, usually in that “invaluable assistance” method mentioned by baylink.

I used to know somebody who ghosted here in Australia, mostly non-fiction books by authors who were well known in other fields. She did it for the money, which was pretty good, and was generally not credited. She even ghostwrote the quotes on the back of some books; Famous Person A would tell Famous Person B that he’d written a novel and wanted a quote, and she’d whip up a few for Famous Person B to choose from.

How does it tie into people like Tom Clancy, who most assuredly did have their own writing talent at one stage, at least enough to get them a book contract? (Ignoring for a moment whether or not we personally think that talent is very, um, talentful.)

Fiction book contracts are often quite brutal: one book a year, without fail. Dry spot this year? Writer’s block? Personal problems? Too bad. Churn it out in time for Christmas, that’s a good chap. As a writer becomes increasingly famous and more and more demands are placed on their time, I can easily see how a ghostwriter (which is really nothing more than a collaborator) could become involved. A quick polish here, a chapter written there..

It’s unrealistic to expect an author to work in a vacuum, but where’s the line crossed between assisting an author and misleading the public? Thoughts?
posted by Georgina at 5:45 PM on September 27, 2000

I just wish he could get a ghost-editor too. There are whole 100-200 page subplots that should be cut out of those books.
posted by smackfu at 6:23 PM on September 27, 2000

I wish he'd get *any editors at all*.

(Read my other reviews, including that of R6, "Does this man owe us a Debt of Honor", for *much* more indepth ranting on this...)

On the topic of "when do you need to identify your use of a ghost writer, my personal opinion is that the line is whether you are known for *your own words* or not. but even that's slippery, mostly in the realm of comedy.

Most actors would be assumed to have ghostwriters, most "authors" (people who make a living writing books, and especially fiction) would not. Comedians are a special case. Many have ghostwriters (Foxworthy, Rock) and almost invariably, they're humble enough to make a big hairy fuss out of the thank you's in the Foreward. Others dont, at all, and let the editor clean it up (Carlin). I'm not aware of anyone blowing the lid off of a comedian hiding it... but they're the only people about whom I'd expect the perception to be cloudy. I would expect Cronkhite to have some help, I wouldn't expect Chancellor or Rooney to.

There's also the 'and' v 'with' controversy: as I remember it, "with" means the ghost *wrote* the book and "and" means they co-write it with the billed lead author... but maybe I have those backwards. :-)

posted by baylink at 7:48 PM on September 27, 2000

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