But it gets worse for poor dead wordsmiths. They can also be afflicted by ...
Sometimes, an author of a series of books dies before the series is wrapped up, and another author is drafted in to complete it. And that's fine: Brandon Sanderson finished the Wheel of Time series after original author Robert Jordan passed away, and very few fans screeched in terror. But other times, a ghostwriter takes over from a dead author and then just keeps going, shuffling through the dark, spooky halls of literature again and again like some sort of writing-related ... monster? Zombie? I can't think of a good metaphor here.
Non-corporeal part of a dead person that's not dead yet?
The best example of this phenomenon is VC Andrews, who, as the author of the 1979 young adult incest classic Flowers in the Attic, was creepy enough even while she was alive. Andrews had published six novels and was at the height of her career when she died of breast cancer in 1986, but her publishers had a solution to that. A ghostwriter was called in to finish the novel she'd been working on, and then to release more under the successful VC Andrews name. How many more books do you think he's put out since then? Two? Six? Try 70.
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"And then ... the incest ... had been dead the whole time. Well, onto 71."
Andrews' ghostwriter, Andrew Neiderman, is a successful author in his own right. Among other things, he wrote the novel that the Keanu Reeves / Al Pacino movie The Devil's Advocate was based on. By all accounts, he's carried on VC Andrews' creepy torch successfully, and for all we know, Andrews is looking down from Author Heaven and smiling at him in between drinks with Kurt Vonnegut, but still. Most professional writers have produced at least something they're not particularly proud of, and Andrews was only 63 when she died. What if she was destined to change her mind about writing creepy incest, and spend her later years writing nice stories about magical horses? But now that a ghostwriter has taken over, her name is still being used to garnish the covers of lurid tales about incestuous rape and teenage prostitutes. For all we know, Andrews could be reacting to her ghostwriting afterlife like some sort of avenging ... specter? Revenant? Man, I'm no good at this.
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For more from C. Coville, check out 4 Reasons Being a Tall Woman Can Be Worse Than a Short Man and 6 Insanely Dark Online Games for Young Children.
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