Whodunit? 10 Famous Ghostwriting Collaborations


The newest celebrity scandal has nothing to do with sex, drugs, or alimony. Instead, New York Times dining writer Julia Moskin recently shared a behind the scenes look at cookbook ghostwriting and outed star Gwyneth Paltrow. Moskin states that the actress did not write her best-selling cookbook, My Father’s Daughter . Gwenny isn’t happy and responded to the claim on Twitter. “Love @nytimes dining section but this weeks facts need checking. No ghost writer on my cookbook, I wrote every word myself,” she shared with fans.

While we love a good cookbook, the recent headlines inspired us to revisit some of our favorite fiction penned by ghostwriters instead. Many famous authors have either helped others find their footing in the literary world, or have sought the assistance of an invisible friend. Check out ten ghostwriting collaborations past the break. Head to our comments section to leave your own picks.

V.C. Andrews and Andrew Neiderman

V.C. Andrews’ taboo family drama tales have long been a curiosity for horny teenagers, but several entries in the author’s forbidden novel series became best-selling hits, prompting the use of a ghostwriter after her death. When Andrews passed away in the late 1980s, Andrew Neiderman — a former high school English teacher — was hired by the writer’s estate to continue Andrews’ ongoing saga. Neiderman is the same author who penned The Devil’s Advocate — the book the 1997 Al Pacino film was based on, which coincidentally featured a scene with Andrews-like incestuous overtones.

Carolyn Keene and Many

Amateur teen sleuth character Nancy Drew remains a much-loved mystery seeker for fans everywhere. It seems fitting that series writer Carolyn Keene is another puzzle in the Drew canon — and not really a person at all. Keene was a collective pseudonym for a number of ghostwriters. Founder of book packager/producer Stratemeyer Syndicate, Edward Stratemeyer conceived of the heroine detective after creating the popular Hardy Boys series. While he initially wrote the plotlines for Nancy’s narrative, he hired ghostwriter Mildred Benson to pen the early volumes — a job handed down to multiple writers throughout its history.

Ian Fleming and Kingsley Amis

British spy scribe Ian Fleming is famous for his Secret Service agent character James Bond, which began as a creation in the author’s thriller-adventure novels. When Fleming passed away in 1964, his publisher turned to English novelist Kingsley Amis for help with Fleming’s unfinished The Man with the Golden Gun. Amis’ suggestions were apparently never used, but there are rumors to the contrary — and talk about other secret ghostwriting efforts from Amis prior to Fleming’s death. He did eventually have an official crack at Bond when he was commissioned to write Colonel Sun under the pseudonym Robert Markham.

H.P. Lovecraft and Harry Houdini

Prolific horror author H.P. Lovecraft worked for pulp mag Weird Tales early in his career, writing his own stories and tirelessly drafting those of others as a ghostwriter. One of his most famous collaborators was illusionist Harry Houdini — who happened to be a big fan of the magazine. Under the Pyramids (Imprisoned with the Pharaohs) is a fictionalized account of a real-life Houdini experience — allegedly anyway, because even Lovecraft didn’t believe the escape artist. Houdini adored the tale and went on to collaborate with Lovecraft on several other projects. Some other Lovecraft ghostwriting efforts have been collected in this book.

Francine Pascal and Many

Many girls grew up with popular blonde twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield in Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley High series. Many readers don’t know, however, that ghostwriters authored several books. Hopefully that makes fans feel less antsy about Diablo Cody’s upcoming film adaptation of the young adult series.

R.L. Stine and Many

The Stephen King of children’s lit R. L. Stine watched his spooky Goosebumps series take off like gangbusters. It’s said that the author eventually oversaw a team of ghostwriters (how appropriate) who could churn out the popular chillers faster. He quite possibly did this with creepy, glowing dollar signs in his eyes.

George Lucas and Alan Dean Foster

The novelization of George Lucas’ space opera opus Star Wars isn’t a typically throwaway version of the big screen gem. Novelization Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (originally dubbed Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker) delves deeper into the mythical universe, containing scenes and info that didn’t make it into the 1977 classic film. Although the book was credited to director George Lucas, the real author is ghostwriter Alan Dean Foster who has contributed other works to the Star Wars novel series.

Evangeline Adams and Aleister Crowley

Horoscope enthusiasts everywhere study the works of famous 19th century American astrologer, entrepreneur, and author Evangeline Adams. Famed occultist Aleister Crowley is having the last laugh, though, since it’s said that the English mystic ghostwrote several of Adams works, including her popular Astrology: Your Place in the Sun. The 1927 work was apparently culled from Crowley’s essay The General Principles of Astrology where he slyly satirizes Adams in a paragraph about frauds and faked horoscopes.

William Shatner and Ron Goulart

On the set of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier William Shatner started to develop a future book series, outlining characters and jotting down notes. His rough concepts were eventually developed into the 1989 sci-fi book series TekWar — ghostwritten by Ron Goulart. Shatner wanted the novels to blend elements of Star Trek, reportedly T. J. Hooker, and his own life, but Goulart’s own narrative also ended up in the mix — most notably elements of his 1985 book Brainz Inc. Eventually the stories were franchised for comics, videogames, films, and more — further securing James Tiberius Kirk’s place as a legend among men (thanks to help from Goulart). Other ghostwriters helped Shatner with different book series, including cyberpunk author William T. Quick.

Harper Lee and Truman Capote

We might be cheating a little bit on this one, but the ghostwriting rumor surrounding Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is too juicy not to mention. Lee’s childhood friendship with writer Truman Capote is at the center of the ghostwriting debate. Capote was the basis for a character in the classic novel (Dill), it’s said he helped mentor Lee, and an old newspaper report quoted Capote’s father stating that his son had written the story. Eventually the rumor was put to rest when old letters and notes from Capote and Lee’s editor cleared things up, but this is one of those ongoing tales that never seems to fade completely.