The ghostwriter's nightmare scenario

The ghostwriter's nightmare scenario

Ghostwriter characters don't make it into fiction very often, but when they do they always seem to find themselves in jeopardy. 

In the 2010 Roman Polanski film The Ghost Writer, Ewan McGregor plays a ghostwriter working for a former British prime minister. In the end he knows too much and ... it doesn't end well. 

In the Netflix series House of Cards, Paul Sparks plays ghostwriter Thomas Yates who, after struggling to extract a decent memoir out of the president, fails to keep his professional distance, you might say. It takes a while – three seasons in fact – but it doesn't end well for him either.

And now we have Australian writer Richard Flanagan's latest novel, First Person, in which the narrator is a ghostwriter hired to author the memoir of a notorious conman. The story was inspired by Flanagan's own experience, very early in his career, of ghostwriting the autobiography of fraudster John Friedrich in 1991.

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