|No ghosts were harmed during this interview|
How did you stumble into ghostwriting?
My agent, Kathleen Ortiz, approached me about doing a work-for-hire job. I wasn't exactly sure what it would entail, but I thought it sounded interesting and agreed to send sample pages of my work. At that time, I knew nothing about the project except that it was YA and a third-person past tense sample was needed.
Can you discuss a little of the process for us? Do you receive an outline and character list to follow?
I'm not sure what a typical ghostwriting job is because we're a secretive bunch. However, my experience has been that I'm given a detailed synopsis (we're talking ten - fifteen pages) and any supporting materials (such as previous books in a series, character lists, & important settings). I'm given the freedom to flesh out characters and veer slightly from the synopsis as long as every thing ends up where it needs to be. Obviously, I'm not killing characters or changing major plot points without permission.
Once I've completed a draft, I send it to my agent and she suggests edits. I can't use beta readers and that's probably the toughest part. I'll do another round or two of revisions based on my agent's feedback before she sends it to the publisher. From there, it takes a normal path.
Is it hard picking up the voice of a character or style of a story that you didn't create?
I think ghostwriters are mimics by nature. We have to be flexible if we want to work. After I spend enough time with a character - either by reading and re-reading the synopsis or writing the first few chapters - it comes very easy. Actually, I think it may be easier than when I'm working on a character of my own invention. With ghostwriting, it's all laid out for me. I can check the style sheet and make sure I'm hitting the right notes. Can't do that with my own work.
What are some pros and cons to ghostwriting in your opinion?
I love ghostwriting. Until my first job, I'd always written first person present tense and mostly fantasy or dystopians. Now, I have experience writing in different genres and tenses which makes my writing stronger.
I won't lie, ghostwriting is paid work. And getting paid is a very, very good thing.
As for cons, I think the toughest thing is tight deadlines. I'm a fast drafter, but having a publisher deadline that's three months out is insane. Doable, but insane. I've developed a nasty case of carpal tunnel pounding out drafts.
I've been asked if it bothers me no one will ever know the books I worked on. Honestly, no. Unlike writing for myself, I don't form an all-consuming attachment to these books. It's a lot like a nine-five job. I can turn it off-and-on, and don't spend all night wondering if I should do X,Y,Z. When the book is gone, out of my hands, that's that. I tend to think of myself as the nanny, bringing it up properly, and then returning it to its parents. I'm totally fine with that.
If you could ghostwrite a sequel to any book in the world, which one would it be?
Oh, man. That's tough. So many of my favorite books are series or trilogies already. I think writing a "supporting character" book staring John Green's Colonel, Hassan, Lacey, and Tiny Cooper would be hilarious. I can only imagine how perplexed they'd be by one another.
But I'd never, ever want to touch John Green's work. I'd go all Wayne's World, "I'm not worthy" on it.
www.dawnRaeMiller.com And also be sure to stop by her new group blog, YAcurator.
Part one of the Different Roads to Publication: Self-publishing available here.