Tim Adams in the Guardian:
'A new ghost writer has to learn a lot about style,' [Christy Walsh, prominent American ghostwriter] suggested. 'He usually makes the mistake of thinking that he ought to write the way his celebrity talks. That is an error. He ought to write the way the public thinks his celebrity talks.'
In the gap between those two voices lie all of the ghost's creative possibilities and all of his worst nightmares. Whenever my bank balance appears to tempt me toward ghosting, I'm haunted by the story of an indefatigable ghost who used every desperate resource to make it to the end of his contracted 70,000 words about a particularly prolix Yorkshire cricketer. No routine catch at midwicket or unsuccessful lbw appeal was left unexplored. There were paragraphs about the sound of birdsong at various county grounds, and about favourite groundsmen. When he delivered his manuscript and felt the burden of word-count despair briefly lift from his shoulders, he received a call from his publisher. 'This is terrific stuff. Do you think you can do another 30,000 words?'
Cricket's original hero, WG Grace, employed a writer called Arthur Porritt, who described exactly the 'Rooney dilemma', the one which states that great sportsmen do all of their talking on the field: 'Getting material from Grace was almost heartbreaking,' he recalled. 'All he would say in recording some dazzling batting feat of his was 'Then I went in and made 284'.
There's lots of other good stuff in here (it's funny, too, and slightly shaming, how many of the ghostwritten novels I have actually read--Naomi Campbell's, for instance, and also Ivana Trump's: "After paying her ghost Camille Marchetta $350,000 to write a novel about a Czech alter ego named Katrina, Ivana Trump . . . seemed to have convinced herself of her gift. 'To my surprise, I find I have a great imagination,' she told -Vanity Fair in her unwieldy English. 'I don't say I'm the Shakespeare, but it's not just about the beautiful people and the gorgeous yachts and the fabulous homes and lots of sex. I tried to put in more the feelings'").
Jennie Erdal is quoted, and then also Andrew Crofts, whose theory of ghostwriting seems to me most convincing (he puts his finger on why it's always seemed appealing to me):
'If I'm writing about someone who is morally dubious, I'll find myself fiercely defending them if someone criticises them. You have to see things entirely from their point of view. Being a ghost is a bit like being a therapist,' he says. 'But it is probably more like being a defence lawyer.'