Saturday, September 26, 2009

... And So He's a Ghostwriter

I hit pay dirt on my first Google search. Hammett's name produced dozens of results in relation to other projects and publications, but he was also a ghostwriter. His professional website claimed that his work for clients had been favorably reviewed by Publishers Weekly and major newspapers around the country. Many of his clients had been published authors and celebrities. One had worked with two U.S. presidents. This explained the accomplished prose style of John Lennon and the Mercy Street Café.

Under his own name, Hammett had published three other novels, one of which also had a slick website but was only available from a small press in Montana. Curiouser and curiouser. Additionally, Hammett had a blog, Chapter and Verse, on which he posted poetry he’d published in respectable literary journals around the country. Most web poetry is quite awful, but Hammett’s was extremely well crafted. The man was wearing many hats: novelist, ghostwriter, poet. Of equal interest was that Hammett was extremely knowledgeable about the literary marketplace. Several of his web pages did a superb job of exploring scams by unscrupulous literary agents and online publishing companies.

The next step was to make direct contact with Hammett. I emailed him and asked if we could speak on the phone about John Lennon and the Mercy Street Café. I made no mention of cult fiction at this point. I didn’t want to scare him off. He sent me a one-word reply: “Sure.”

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