Getting to know your ghostwriter.
When you’re choosing a writer or editor to embark on your journey with, it’s important that you know a little about them. You want to be sure that you gel and that you feel comfortable working with them. If you’re hiring a freelance ghostwriter or editor, the likelihood is that you’ll be spending a lot of time conversing with them throughout the project. This is the first blog post in a series about getting to know your ghostwriter. As a UK freelance ghostwriter and editor, my entire life revolves around the written word – whether I’m the reader, the editor, or the writer. You can tell a lot about a person by what they read, especially a writer. I spend most of my days writing or editing, and therefore the books I choose to read need to be ones that speak to me and that I think I’ll enjoy. To be frank, I don’t have the time or energy to pick up books that don’t appeal to me. In this blog post, I’m going to share with you what books I choose to read in my spare time. Hopefully, it will give you an idea of my areas of interest and give you a little more of an understanding of myself, both as a person and professional.
I think Stephen King said it best, as he usually does…
“Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
For me, reading and writing will always go hand in hand.
On the many Facebook writing groups that I’m a part of, a lot of people would vehemently disagree with me on this fact. That’s not to say you can’t be a writer if you don’t like to read, but think back to how children learn language to begin with – in the laps of their parents reading books. Those of you that have studied the teaching of reading will have likely come across the Rose Report which is essentially a review of the teaching of early reading. I won’t bore you with all the details here, but the general gist of it is that in order to develop comprehension, a good vocabulary is key. And where do children get that vocabulary? The adults around them. Their environment. If their environment is rich in literacy, both from books and the spoken word, then they’re on the right path to be both great readers and great writers. There’s obviously a hell of a lot more to the report, it’s linked below if you want to read it, so I apologise for my generalisation of the information.
The start of my reading journey.
I grew up in a household where books were always at the centre of our days. Whether that be a trip to the library or reading on the sofa, books were a staple of childhood for me. My mum will tell you that reading to me and my brother was her favourite thing to do. However, in my early teens, I went through a phase where I didn’t much care for reading. I’m not sure what changed, but one day something clicked. My Nannan turned up with a Stephen King book from Barnsley Market. It was either Misery or Carrie, my memory fails me here, but both came in quick succession. Thus began my Stephen King collection. I would argue, like many, that Stephen King was the author who sparked the love of reading within me. After that came the usual, Harry Potter, Twilight, and a succession of other teen books. My favourite from this time was Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli, I’ve read it too many times to count.
Since then my tastes have branched out.
I’m still totally obsessed with all things fiction, I’ve never been one for non-fiction (although I love ghostwriting memoirs). I will read pretty much anything you put in front of me. Any genre, as long as it’s well written. That’s my only sticking point. Young adult, fantasy, romance, literary fiction, thriller, literally anything. I tend to go through phases where I’ll stick to one genre for a while before getting bored of it and moving on. I still read a lot of Stephen King books, but since then another author has crept to the top of my list too. John Irving. The reason? His books are different from any other. There’s a poetic way that he writes that is just pure story-telling bliss. Also up there? Jeffery Deaver, who doesn’t love a good piece of crime fiction? If you’d like to keep up with what I’m reading, check out my Instagram page @literary.booked where I post every single book I read, along with little reviews.
I have a few die-hard favourite books.
There are some books that you read that never leave you. I believe all readers have a few books that burrow into their hearts, books that you would read again in a heartbeat without a moment of hesitation. This list is mine (in no particular order, of course, that would be impossible) …
- A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving
- Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
- The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
- Misery – Stephen King
- A Walk to Remember – Nicholas Sparks
- The Southern Vampire Mysteries (True Blood) – Charlaine Harris
- The Illuminae Files – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
- The Harry Potter (core series) – J.K. Rowling (although I do not endorse her as a person).
- The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
- Star Girl – Jerry Spinelli
I think that’s a pretty good mix. I can guarantee that there’s something I love in every genre.
I don’t read as much as I’d like to.
You see people online all the time who read two-hundred-plus books per year. This is amazing and I’m totally jealous! For me, I average at between fifty and seventy per year, depending on how many holidays we take. I can easily go through a book a day on holiday! I choose my books carefully. Most are from charity shops. However, since the pandemic hit, I’ve been buying more online or from the supermarket when I do my weekly shop. I’m very much a mood-reader and can’t plan my to-be-read pile for the life of me. I can spend ages choosing my next book to read, this drives my partner insane! I always say how much I’d like to read more classic books, but I often find that they’re difficult to read and therefore I don’t pick them up often. When I choose a book, I want something that I’m going to get lost in, and I can’t do that in many classics.
At the moment, I’m into thrillers and horrors.
For some reason, as the weather is improving, I want to read spooky and scary stuff. I’m not sure what that says about me. This could possibly be because the shelves at the supermarkets are chock full of thrillers, they’re the in thing at the moment. There are some fantastic ones out there too! I think this is helped by the fact that tonnes of thriller books are being made for TV and film… The Woman in the Window by A J Finn; Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn; Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough, among so many others. I think we all have a tendency to like dark, twisted stories. The very few non-fiction books that I pick up tend to be about serial killers and stuff like that. If I pick up a non-fiction book, I do tend to like ones with illustrations like The Last Book on the Left. Fun fact: one of my first ghostwriting projects was writing fact files on serial killers, I think it’s what made me fall in love with ghostwriting.
For me, you can’t separate reading and writing.
Not to sound dramatic, but I wholeheartedly believe that reading and writing are like inhaling and exhaling. They’re two sides of the same coin. As a content writer, I know that there are plenty of people out there who love reading but hate writing, or vice versa, and that’s totally cool too. In my line of work, for me personally, they go hand in hand. The more I read, the more I hone my writing skills. I often joke to Danny, my long-suffering partner, that when I’m reading, I’m also working! He doesn’t buy it, but reading is a huge part of what I do. This William Faulkner quote makes me smile, it sums up reading and writing in the most ideal way…
“Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”
I’d love to know your must-read books!
Get in touch, or comment below, with your favourite book that you think I should read. What book made you into a reader? Or, alternatively, why do you think you don’t like reading? I love hearing your stories. As always, if you have a topic you’d like me to cover on the blog let me know!
Wishing you love, and books that make your heart skip a beat,
Sarah Jules x
A bonus quote that makes me laugh and shows why you need an editor!
“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”