When an author of a beloved character passes away, often their estates will cast a new writer to take over the job of keeping the character in print. V.C. Andrews, Ralph Compton, Don Pendleton, and Robert Ludlum are almost more prolific now than they were when they were alive.
There’s a webcast interview with Raymond Benson, who wrote the James Bond books for many years, and Robert Goldsborough, who wrote the Nero Wolfe books after Rex Stout passed away, posted at waukegan.org. Go to the middle of the page, find the section called "Writers Webcast with Chris Angelos" and download the link dated February 28, which is the interview.
I haven’t heard it yet, but knowing the two authors, I bet it’s an interesting peek into the world of posthumous writing.
4 thoughts on “Stepping into a Dead Author’s Shoes”
I think there’s a big difference between someone like Benson, who writes the Bond books under his own name, and the ghost (literally) writers who churn out books under a dead author’s name, as with V.C. Andrews. Not only is the latter mondo creepy, but there’s an element of deception in it. Even an Andrews fan who knows the lady died years ago might be forgiven for picking one of the new books up — thinking it’s a reissue of an old book, or a newly-discovered manuscript — without reading the small type on the copyright page which reveals that the book was written “in the spirit” of Andrews.
The fellow who writes the VC Andrews books, Andrew Neiderman, actually lives just down the street from me. Nice fellow. Doesn’t look like he keeps kids in an attic or anything.
How did he get the job? There’s a long history of this. I actually thought as a kid reading the Hardy Boys that the writer Franklin Dixon wrote them. Not alone.
I’m with Danny. I think the practice is dishonest. Robert Ludlum wrote some great books, but he died. Yet Robert Ludlum (TM) is still writing books. Does the average reader realize he’s not reading a real Ludlum book? Probably not (that’s the point, right?). St. Martin’s tries to portray the books as still being written by him, despite his death.
If the publishers are going to do this, they should at least put the real author’s name prominently on the cover, so that people would know who actually wrote it. But, of course, that would at least partially defeat the purpose of the whole endeavor.
(Speaking of Ludlum… A while back I asked a Senior Editor at SMP about the identity of the real writer of the Ludlum (TM) books, but it’s such a secret that he didn’t know.)