Ghost Writers and Me (2nd posting)

As I sit on this side of the keyboard, spinning out my tales and blogs, it’s impossible for me to tell how what I create will touch the people reading what I’ve written.

A few weeks ago I heard from a reader who had actively disliked Blessing of the Lost Girls, suggesting that it was so different from my other books that he wondered if I’d collaborated with someone one, employed a ghost writer, or used an AI to write the book.

I have to say I was a bit taken aback because that story came straight from my heart, and that’s how I was able to write a whole book, beginning to end, in two months flat.

I wrote back and told him that I had learned I didn’t work well with committees when my kids were in grade school and I was supposed to participate in PTA. That meant collaboration was out. Nor had I employed either a ghost writer or an AI in the writing process, but that I was sorry he hadn’t enjoyed the book.

Then, this week a woman wrote to me saying that one aspect of Blessing had really touched her. Recently her ninety-something mother needed to go into assisted living, and she told me that when Diana Ladd and her daughter, Lani, were faced with the same situation, the interactions between them really helped both my reader and her mother come to terms with those very same hard decisions.

I wrote that scene, yes, but the wisdom in it didn’t actually come from me. It came from a character named John Wheeler, who was based on a Sioux warrior named James who survived for twenty years after being pushed under a moving train by a serial killer who specialized in committing hate crimes against Native Americans.

If you’ve read Blessing of the Lost Girls, you already know that James was the inspiration for that book when he exhorted me to write another Walker book “because there aren’t enough Indian heroes.”

And that’s when I realized that I was wrong in telling that disgruntled reader that I hadn’t used a ghost writer to create Blessing, because I believe a literal ghost writer—James’s spirit—was walking with me every step of the way.