An Interview with Andrew Crofts
The best-selling author discusses ghostwriting and more.
a guest post by Necole Hardison
Andrew Crofts is the author of numerous ghost-written autobiographies and the “dangerously inspirational” How to Make Money from Freelance Writing. His latest novel, The Overnight Fame of Steffi McBride is the memoir of a fictional teenage soap star and a cautionary fable about the perils of celebrity.
Thewritemyessay team: How did you start out as a ghost writer?
Andrew Crofts: As a freelance writer I was interviewing a business “guru” – a bit of Gatsby-like figure complete with white suits and white Rolls Royce. He told me that he had been commissioned to produce a series of business books, which he really wanted to do as a public relations and marketing exercise. His problem was he didn’t have the time. He suggested that if he gave me complete access to his files and to his seminars, I should write them in his name. He would then, as he put it, ‘get the glory’ and I could have the money. That was the day the penny dropped and I realised that ghosting would give me the most wonderful access to interesting people and fascinating stories.
Thewritemyessay team: What appealed to you about telling other peoples’ stories?
Andrew Crofts: To me the whole point about being a writer is to find out new things about different people and different lives, to learn their stories and then pass those stories on to the widest possible audiences. It is much more fun to write in the voices of others – somewhere between being a biographer and a playwright, producing extended monologues in a variety of voices. I love it.
Thewritemyessay team: How did/do you find subjects and how do you approach them?
Andrew Crofts: Rather than approach individuals I set my stall out in the marketplace and let them come to me. I do that by advertising as a “Ghost writer for Hire” in the publishing trade press and by getting to know as many publishers and literary agents as possible. They then bring the stories to me. A potential subject who approaches anyone in the publishing industry asking them if they know of a ghost writer is likely to be directed to me. The Internet has also been a great shop window and my website brings in a lot of enquiries.
Thewritemyessay team: How do you build rapport with your subjects? Have there been any memorably tense or dramatic moments?
Andrew Crofts: The biggest skill required for a ghost is to be non-confrontational. So although there are often tears as the subjects go over painful memories, it is seldom tense. Listening to them and not judging or challenging them creates a rapport. They must feel safe if they are to be encouraged to open up and talk truthfully about their feelings and experiences.
Thewritemyessay team: What inspired you to write The Overnight Fame of Steffi McBride? (Why did you choose to write it in memoir form)?
Andrew Crofts: One of my daughters is an actress, (Olivia Grodd who appears in the video as Steffi McBride on the Internet), and I have always been fascinated by both the serious side of the acting profession and by the whole concept of celebrity and stardom in these days of mass media and instant fame. I have worked with many celebrities from different walks of life and it is an extraordinary parallel universe that they live in.
I wrote it in the style of a memoir because as a ghost that is a form I am very comfortable with, speaking with someone else’s voice. I think it helps the reader to become involved and to understand the main character more thoroughly, seeing the story unfold through her eyes rather than those of an objective (and perhaps more cynical) observer.
Thewritemyessay team: What are some forthcoming projects?
Andrew Crofts: I have a couple on the go which I am not allowed to talk about, (occupational hazard), but I am also working on one about a woman who went to her death during the Holocaust believing she was Jewish and had no option, when in fact she was a direct descendent of the Prussian royal family. Due to complications at court her grandmother had been farmed out to the family of a humble Jewish tailor, her real identity hidden. It’s a wonderful story about several generations of European history, told by the holocaust victim’s granddaughter, who researched it all in the archives of East Germany before the Berlin Wall fell.
A book which was a huge hit in England, “The Little Prisoner” by Jane Elliott, is about to be released in the US, which is exciting, and I am looking forward to the publication of “The Overnight Fame of Steffi McBride” as well.
Thewritemyessay team: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Andrew Crofts: Ask endless questions of everyone you meet. Meet as many different people as possible and have as many different experiences as possible. Then take a bit of time to daydream.