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Ghostwriters on ghostwriting

Ghostwriters spill the beans on what it takes to write a celebrity’s autobiography. Hunter Davies continues to be an enduring hero of mine – how on earth can he make sense of stars like Paul Gascoigne and Wayne Rooney? It would also appear someone’s mum can play an important role in the ghostwriter’s work.

Dwight Yorke messed me around, didn’t appear interested. He’s intelligent, fluent, but he turned out to be very private. Perhaps it was my fault. Gazza – the most successful of the ones I’ve done in the sense that it sold shitloads and won prizes – was a struggle, as he was in and out of rehab, hospitals, hotels whose names and whereabouts he never knew. Often, after an hour, he’d say, “Youredoinmafuckinheedin!” and I’d have to wait till he calmed down. Wayne was no bother. I saw him eight times at his lovely house, and the lovely Coleen, and each time I got three hours with his mobile off and a look of utter concentration. It was hard in some ways, but only because of his age, not having had the, er, richness of experience of Gazza.

I always ask if they have kept memorabilia, diaries, letters, school reports. When I was doing the Beatles’ biog, only Ringo’s mum could find his school report. Gazza’s mum thought she’d kept a swimming certificate he’d won aged eight. Brilliant, I said, pushing her up into the loft – but she never found it. Wayne’s mum was a joy: she’d kept every school report from nursery, and every letter and report sent

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