A “Ghostly” Post

by Jill Amadio

Inhabiting your characters’ heads is great fun. You can make up anything, criminal or law-abiding, and create whatever you wish as to their mental, physical, and emotional health. Conversely, inhabiting a real person’s head as a ghost in order to write their life story as a biography or an autobiography, is an entirely different challenge. No nasty habits revealed, no odd scenes to upset a reader. No puzzles to sort out unless one is writing an unauthorized biography. Ah, then their life can become far more interesting, an open book, pardon the pun. Gathering differing opinions from relatives and friends, researching from birth, yes, then the writer is given more latitude. With a cautious eye to libel, naturally.

Hired to write both biographies and autobiographies, 16 in fact, and all but one at the client’s behest, is fascinating. What interests me these days, though, as I finish polishing one such tome, is whether stepping into their shoes is informing and influencing my own fiction, the mysteries I write.  I’ve come to the conclusion that because I am constantly learning about people, places, and an enormous variety of subjects I am broadening my own knowledge and experiences while delving mercilessly into my clients’ lives.

I have been a cop, a lawyer, a businessman, a CEO, a diplomat, a realtor, a criminal, a motivational speaker, a body builder, a helicopter inventor, a movie star’s wife, a falsely-accused woman on trial, and others. All real people.   I have listened to and written about moments that brought me to tears, to laughter, and to an appreciation of courage, fortitude and, in my opinion, to occasional greatness. There are moments of modesty in some of these books, written and printed exclusively for the family instead of the public, that are appreciated, with grandchildren learning of their grandparents’ valor or brilliance, for instance, instead of regarding them as old fossils with nothing interesting to say.

Writing the first-person story for a retired U.S. Ambassador has taken me into the inner workings of the State Department; third world countries when America first established a consulate amid riots; the personal habits of a benign dictator, and a few dangerous incidents. One of my favorite biographies I felt privileged to write is of a woman who rose from extreme poverty to owning a casino, one of so many typical dreams realized. Another, of the first policewoman in a now-famous town in northern California. I was hired to write a true crime but after it was finished the surviving victim decided not to publish. I once held preliminary meetings in Laguna Beach with a murderer (currently serving life) until his gave the job to his best friend, a writer, before being indicted.

One biography written under my own name, published in nine countries and that took me to Germany five times, is the life of a World War II Luftwaffe pilot. This one I at first declined because my father was in the Royal Air Force during that war. But the publisher was persuasive and generous and I was intrigued enough to want to learn first-hand of the opposite side.

Not long ago and with several non-fiction projects under my belt I was hired to ghostwrite a novel. I was thinking at the time of writing a mystery series. After persuading the client to add a couple of murders, I created a forensic accountant and turned the novel into a cozy. I can barely add two and two so books on banking and CPAs required quite a lot of study, as did notes on the members of the Russian mafia who reside in Beverly Hills (they really do), and a few descriptions and tidbits about small planes. Happily, I was left alone most of the time to create characters, settings, criminal activity, and plots. When I finished practicing writing a mystery, thanks to this wonderful client who self-published on amazon, I began my own series.

Juggling non-fiction and fiction by writing about people’s lives, and in between times creating mysteries, can be a rewarding if sometimes angst-ridden experience. I could write a book…

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Jill Amadio is from Cornwall, UK, but unlike her amateur sleuth, Tosca Trevant, she is far less grumpy. Jill began her career as a reporter in London (UK), then Madrid (Spain), Bogota (Colombia), Bangkok (Thailand), Hong Kong, and New York. She is the ghostwriter of 14 memoirs, and wrote the Rudy Valle biography, “My Vagabond Lover,” with his wife, Ellie. Jill writes a column for a British mystery magazine, and is an audio book narrator. She is the author of the award-winning mystery, “Digging Too Deep.” The second book in the series, “Digging Up the Dead,” was released this year. The books are based in Newport http://www.jillamadio.com

Books: Digging Too Deep, Digging Up the Dead

Non-Fiction: My Vagabond Lover: An Intimate Biography of Rudy Vallee; Gunther Rall: A Memoire, Luftwaffe Ace and NATO General

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This post was submitted for Jill Amadio by Jackie Houchin

Author: photojaq

First, I am a believer in Jesus Christ, so my views and opinions are filtered through what God's Word says and I believe. I'm a wife, a mom, a grandma and now a great grandma. I write articles and reviews, and I dabble in short fiction. I enjoy living near the ocean, doing gardening (for beauty and food) and traveling - in other countries, if possible. My heart is for Christian missions, and I'm compiling a collections of Missionary Kids' stories to publish. (I also like kittens and cats and reading mysteries.)

10 thoughts on “A “Ghostly” Post”

  1. WOW!, Jill, I am in awe of the life you’ve lived and are living now! And ghosting for so many types of novels/writings is sooo fascinating. How many places you’ve gone and experienced ghosting is just beyond my comprehension. And I have to think writing about the Luftwaffe pilot must have been emotionally difficult? Now, writing mysteries must be a piece-of-cake!(smile) Kudos on all!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I knew you were a ghost writer, Jill, but your vast experience in so many areas is awesome! Thanks for sharing your description with us, and congratulations on your success in so many venues.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My goodness, Jill. I am exhausted just reading all of your amazing adventures through your ghost writing. I have always been impressed by your international writing career – but these specifics are even more intriguing. What a terrific source of material – perhaps for your own memoir?…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jill, How fascinating to get to know these people and then write their story. Your story-telling ability will always make those people come alive on the page. You do the same thing with your fiction. Maybe it’s because you get to see so many interesting characters in real life that you can write fictional ones so well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gayle, we all have life experiences we can bring to our fiction, especially you with your PI career. The ghosting didn’t rear its head until I came to live in America and I fell into it quite by accident. I’d love to write my own book after living in foreign countries – agent/Big Five publisher out there? Having to make a living is a darned nuisance!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jill, what a life you’ve led, or should I say vicariously led. Ghost writers like you are the unsung heroes of authorship, all the work with little of the glory. You absolutely should write a book. As someone who has trouble separating ficticious fact from fictitious fiction in my characters’ lives, I wonder how you deal with switching from actual biography, where you can’t change what occurred, to your fiction writing, where you can.

    Liked by 1 person

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