A Friendly Ghost

Have you ever wondered how celebrities and sports stars manage to write perfectly crafted memoirs or literary best sellers? Well, the majority don’t. Most use the services of a professional ghost-writer, those ephemeral beings who take a jumble of ideas and turn them into well polished tomes.

Malcolm Storer….a friendly ghost

And it’s not just celebrities who need a hand up the literary ladder, as Paul Jordan found out when he met Wilmslow-based ghost-writer Malcolm Storer.

“With the explosion of online publishing more and more people are getting their work published,” explained Malcolm “Everyone’s got a story to tell, and there are some really interesting people out there. But not everyone has the ability to write. That’s where I come in.”

As a published novelist and screenwriter with twenty years experience, Malcolm is a literary hired gun, offering his expertise to anyone longing to see their story in print, be it a memoir, a novel or family saga.

After working as a professional musician, he began his writing career in the early nineties, penning the cult comedy The Wilmslow Comet, the story of a hapless journalistThe novel got picked up by a film company. They asked me to adapt it into a screenplay. It was great fun, working with actors and directors.

Then one day I got a call out of the blue from a celebrity medium who asked me to write his life story.

People always find that amusing, the fact I was a ghost writer for a medium!

Obviously I had to sign a confidentiality agreement; a client’s privacy is sacrosanct. After that I just fell into ghost-writing. You meet some fascinating people, people who’ve had the most amazing lives.”

Over the years Malcolm has worked with a varied list of clients, including a German explorer, an Asian entrepreneur and an international fashion guru “Helping them tell their story is so rewarding. You get to glimpse into their innermost lives. Often it’s a cathartic experience for the client, suddenly remembering things from their childhood. I kind of walk them down memory lane.”

Life stories are not the only thing Malcolm gets to write “Last year a multi millionaire restaurateur hired me to write a gangster novel. Rich and successful as he was, he’d always dreamed of being an author. He had some writing ability, but needed help fleshing out his characters and fashioning a more coherent plot. Anyway, we got together and wrote a fast-paced thriller which has now been published.

The look on his face when he walked into Waterstones and saw his book on the shelf was priceless. He had achieved so much in life but this meant more to him than anything. He was so proud.”

Which begs the question, doesn’t it bother him that someone else’s name is on the book, giving them all the credit? Malcolm smiled modestly “Not at all. That’s why we’re called ghosts. Ghosts don’t have egos. Seriously though, without the client there wouldn’t be a book.”

So what does it take to become a ghost-writer? “You have to have the ability to write in different styles, different genres. But the most important thing is being a good listener — that, and a willingness to bury yourself in research. For instance, if your story is set inAfricaor your client is a ceramics expert, you need to find out all you can about the subject.

You’d be surprised what you learn. Through my work I’ve become acquainted with a whole variety of topics, from Renaissance art to the rainforest. It’s better than going to university!

Another important factor is, you have to be able to write in the client’s voice. It’s no good doing the memoir of a self-made man fromSalfordand making him sound like some posh bloke from Alderley Edge, his friends and family would soon notice! It’s all about being true to your subject.”

Malcolm’s work has taken him all over Europe “Once a month I used to fly toHollandto liaise with a client who hired me to write a love story. She didn’t trust the internet so we met at her home to review the progress of the book. It was one of those lovely canal side residences in a swish part ofAmsterdam.

On another occasion I flew toBerlinto interview a client who’d recently returned fromVenezuelaafter spending a year living with a tribe of Amazonian Indians called the Yanomami.”

Recently Malcolm decided to concentrate his work around Cheshire, setting up a website called The Cheshire Writer.

WhyCheshire? “Well, as everyone knowsCheshirehas more than its fair share of high achievers. The county is awash with interesting people with fascinating stories, stories that would grace any bookshelf.

I remember having a coffee one day in Wilmslow. There were two women sitting on the next table. One was telling the other about how her husband had built up his business from nothing, turning into a successful company — the trials, the tribulations, the setbacks.

Then later in the week I overheard a man in a restaurant telling his daughter about her grandfather’s amazing life – how he’d climbed Mont Blanc in the fifties, fought in the Korean War before going on to have a distinguished career as a High Court judge. I thought, wow, that sounds like a bestseller”

More details about Malcolm and his business can be found at www.thecheshirewriter.co.uk




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