REGISTER

MY ACCOUNT

HELP

CART

Gill Books - Reading Matters
HOME
BOOKSHOP
BLOG

BLOG

ALL CATEGORIES
BEHIND THE SCENES
BOOK LAUNCHES
COMPETITIONS
EVENTS
FOOD
HEALTH
JOB FAIRY
MEET THE AUTHORS
NEWS
SIGNING TOURS

Under The Cover: Memory Man


18-09-2012 16:45

We take a look at the role of the ghost-writer in book publishing. Memory Man is very much Jimmy Magee’s own story, but journalist and author Jason O’Toole gave the legendary commentator a helping hand. So, what’s it really like to turn someone else’s memories into a memoir?

 

How did you get involved in working on Jimmy’s book?
I first met Jimmy Magee back in the spring of 2008. I was having lunch with former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, who was helping me with a biography of Brian Cowen that I was writing at the time, when Jimmy came over to our table to say hello. Three years later, I bumped into Jimmy and asked if he’d do an interview with me for my regular two-page interview slot called ‘The Jason O’Toole Interview’ in the Irish Daily Mail. After it was printed, Fergal Tobin, publishing director at Gill Books, said he liked the feature and would be very interested in a memoir by Jimmy. Jimmy had turned down several offers in the past to write an autobiography, but somehow Fergal and I managed to cajole him into doing this one.

 

How much did you know about his life before you began the project?
I had already done an in-depth interview with Jimmy for the Irish Daily Mail, which was essentially a profile on his personal life and career highlights, so this certainly gave me a good roadmap to start with. But, of course, I did spend several days reading everything I could find about Jimmy, as well as watching documentaries and his DVDs, before we commenced with the interviews for the book.

 

Tell us a bit about your working methods.
I did approximately 20 hours of interviews with Jimmy, which I then had transcribed by someone else. After this, I read through the transcripts and planned out the chapter outlines. I would ‘cut and paste’ parts of the interviews into different Word files marked for each appropriate chapter. I then essentially used the interviews as the basis to flesh out each chapter.

 

What are the challenges of working on a project like this?
Firstly, to ensure that you have not overlooked any vital aspect of the subject’s life. The key to this is research and ensuring your interviews are exhaustively thorough. Secondly, it’s vital to write the book in the subject’s own unique voice. My writing style would differ from Jimmy’s own voice, so therefore it’s important to keep asking yourself, ‘Would Jimmy use that word or phrase in this scene?’

 

And what are the good things?
I can’t think of any negative aspects of a ghost-writing project – provided the subject has led an interesting life and is willing to be forthcoming and not skate around the truth. Working with Jimmy Magee, in particular, was a real pleasure because he is a total gentleman and a consummate professional. He was generous with his time and was passionate about ensuring we produced as good a book as possible.

 

How would you feel about working on a similar book with someone else?
It would really depend on the subject and if I believed their life story had the potential to be not only a bestseller but a genuinely good read. I was offered another ghost-writing job earlier this year, but I felt the chemistry wasn’t right between myself and the subject and reluctantly turned it down. Also, I wouldn’t undertake such a project without some type of by-line credit. Thankfully, Jimmy Magee was gracious enough to agree to give me a cover credit. But, saying that, if the pay cheque was big enough – I could live without a credit!



Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn
Comment on this article

AUTUMN-WINTER 2017 CATALOGUE OF NEW BOOKS NOW AVAILABLE!

A BOOK FOR EVERYONE

LATEST BLOG POST

Bullying is often cited among the top fears that parents have for their children. In her new book, Bully-Proof Kids, psychotherapist and bestselling author Stella O’Malley gives practical advice on how to equip children with the social skills ... Read More >

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER


© 2017 M.H. Gill & Co. Unlimited Company