Author Andrew Crofts has been dubbed by Claudia Winkleman as ‘one of the most successful – if not the most successful ghostwriter in the world.’ He has published over eighty books both as a ghostwriter and author including fiction, non fiction and Sunday Times bestsellers. We chat to him about his latest book, What Lies Around Us, and the fascinating life he has lived.
Q and A with Andrew Crofts
For those unfamiliar, tell us a bit about your new book, What Lies Around Us
One of Silicon Valley’s most powerful billionaires offers a British ghostwriter a million dollars to write the autobiography of one of Hollywood ’s biggest stars, but only once he is living and working amongst the world’s richest and most beautiful people does the ghost realise that there is way more than a publishing deal at stake. Everyone he meets seems to have a hidden agenda and someone is willing to kill to ensure that their plans work out. But what are those plans, who are the ultimate puppet-masters and how far are they willing to go?
The book features a ghostwriter, a career that you have undertaken for many years. How much of your experiences are in the book/influenced your writing?
Ghostwriting has given me the opportunity to polish my writing skills every day, it has also provided me with intimate access to many of the most interesting people in the world, some of whom have provided the raw material for the characters in this book.
From picking up pen (or turning on computer) to publication, how long did it take you to write?
About a year, but there were several years of thinking and gestation before I actually got to open the computer.
The cover really makes the book standout, it’s very striking. How much involvement did you have in its design?
All the credit goes to the designer, Clare Connie Shepherd. I think when I saw her first draft I asked for a bit more of the threatening black surrounds to emphasise the idea of what lies “around” us, but she responded beautifully. I agree with you that it is very striking.
Do you find it easier to write your own story, such as What Lies Around Us, or someone else’s?
Writing my own stories is easier once they have formed in my mind, but waiting for the ideas to come can take a long time, during which it is much easier to work with the ready-made stories of others.
What’s your biggest procrastination when sitting down to write? Do you make endless cups of tea, check emails, tidy your sock drawer?
Twitter is a temptation because it always leads to interesting articles and other stuff and I can be led astray for ages. Endless cups of coffee happen, but they don’t take long to make. A sunny garden outside the window can also tempt me to leave my post. I like getting emails because they are usually interesting enquiries about potential ghosting jobs.
You’ve met some fascinating people during your career but if you could ghost write for any one, past or present, who would it be and why?
The best subjects are people I have never heard of who live lives I know nothing about, so that I am learning new stuff from day one. I like people who live in places I have never visited before and lead lives that are nothing like mine.
Are you a big reader? If yes how much does this help your work?
Over the years I have read a lot and I’m sure it has seeped into my writing style subconsciously. It is always hard to find enough time to read everything I would like to.
Describe the feeling of seeing a book that you have written, or been involved in for sale in a shop. Even after the success you have had, does it still give you a thrill?
It’s more a feeling of relief that we have got all the way through the obstacle course to the end.
Apart from reading your book, Ghostwriting, if you could give one piece of advice to someone starting out as a ghostwriter, what would it be?
Be infinitely curious about everyone and never be afraid to ask deeply personal questions. It is amazing what people will tell you if you ask them straight out. Then practice writing books for anyone and everyone who is willing to hire you (even if they are not paying much to start with).
Finally, what’s next for you writing wise?
I am ghostwriting a novel with an international businessman and working on a philosophical memoir with an amazing Chinese woman.
Grab the book
A big thank you to Andrew Crofts for taking the time to answer our questions. What Lies Around Us was published by Red Door Publishing on 13 June. Want to read a review of the book? Then check out the Random Things Tour: