Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Ambler Warning

Video of a reading of Motherless Soul.

I was at an art opening about a month ago, talking to someone about books we've read and enjoyed. She mentioned that she was a fan of Robert Ludlum. I haven't read any of his books, so I thought I might try him. I searched for an audio version to fill my commuting time and found The Ambler Warning. I was a couple of chapters into it before I discovered online that Robert Ludlum had not completed the manuscript for this book when he died in 2001. His estate hired a ghost writer to complete the work then published it as a novel by the well known author.

I'm not sure what credits are on the book jacket. I downloaded it from the NC Digital Library and only saw an image of the front. But my understanding is that the hired writer is not allowed to publicize his connection to this project. I see two problems with that. First of all there are readers, such as me, who are receiving something that's different from what they expect. Secondly, the ghost writer isn't going to take the same level of pride in the final work that he would take if his name was on it.

The other question that came to mind when I discovered the way this book was written was What would I like done with my manuscripts if I were to die? It's an interesting question. The idea of a ghost writer sounds horrible to me, but I would like whatever ideas I was working on to find a life of their own. There are excellent writers in my writers group and I've met some great ones through my publisher, All Things That Matter Press. I wonder how many writers leave instructions for their work in their wills.

I am about halfway through The Ambler Warning now and so far the beginning of the book is its strongest part. But it still has been an interesting read (listen) and well worth finishing. I intend to wait awhile then try another Ludlum book. Next time it will be one he actually wrote.

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