It is possible that since this book’s publication you will have heard that I have died in ‘suspicious circumstances’. Obviously I hope that will not be the case, but I believe it is worth taking the risk in order to get this story out there.
Why would one of Silicon Valley’s most powerful billionaires offer a British ghostwriter a million dollars to write the autobiography of Hollywood’s biggest star?
Only once he is living and working among the world’s richest and most beautiful people does the ghost realise that there is way more than a publishing deal at stake.
The ghostwriter must face the dark underbelly of the tech industry. He must face corruption and manipulation, come to blows with people who will do anything to remain at the top of their game and uncover the dark truth behind what it really means to be an influencer . . .
What Lies Around Us takes the reader into a world of myth-makers and power-brokers and reveals who is really running the world. Who is telling the stories and controlling the way we all think with a mixture of old media, social media and fake media?
When my phone next woke me I had no idea what time of the day it was. I lay very still, trying to concentrate and work it out. On the ceiling above the bed the reflections of the morning sun were bouncing off the pool. When my eyes had focused enough to see the screen I answered.
“Hi, Andy. It’s Julia. Roger would really like to meet with you for breakfast in an hour or so. I’ll come pick you up from the cottage.”
Back in the Tesla an hour later I was now armed with recorders and notepads, putting myself into “soaking-everything-up” mode.
“I think Lillian is expecting me for breakfast too,” I said.
“Isn’t she just adorable?” Julia said. “I would give anything for her to be my mom.”
“She seems like a strong character.”
“Soooo strong. I think you’ll find Jo-Jo gives her a lot of credit for everything good that’s happened. A lot of credit.”
“Martin was lovely too. They obviously make a wonderful couple.”
“Such a wonderful couple. Wouldn’t anyone just love to have them for parents? He is the nicest man. He won the Nobel Prize.”
I was pretty sure that wasn’t true but I didn’t bother to contradict her. He had won enough prizes to have more than earned an exaggerated reputation.
“Can you let them know that I won’t be there for breakfast?”
“Oh they are being fully briefed at every stage. They are so important to this project. Roger wants them to be completely involved, completely on message, completely on-board. He has so much respect for them, for their authenticity. They are amazing people.”
Roger’s gangly limbs were stretched out across several giant yellow beanbags in an office made of pale wood and glass, with views out across parkland so immaculate it looked like it had been planted up the night before. He was surrounded by a dozen or so other people, all much younger than him, in similarly relaxed poses. All of them were engrossed in whatever was happening on their laptops and tablets. Some of them wore fully immersive headphones, talking to unseen callers in the same tones they might talk to friends in a coffee shop, at the same time as tapping on keys. Roger waved me down onto an empty beanbag next to him while Julia went in search of food and drink.
“I wanted you to see this,” He said. “I want you to know just how much we are supporting this project. All these guys are working full-time on building Jo-Jo’s platform, interacting with her followers, making personal connections for her.”
“Lillian was telling me about the platform.”
“Lillian is a great person,” he said as he tapped the keys. It was the first time I had heard an edge of impatience, or perhaps irritation, in his voice, “really great, but she doesn’t know what she is talking about when it comes to social media. Such a great mother though. Martin too, such a great father figure. They have both overcome such huge odds to be where they are. Fantastic success stories. We are very close.”
He turned his screen towards me and I could see it was filled with messages coming through from places like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, all for Jo-Jo. It took me a moment to realise that the people around me on the floor were the ones typing in the answers in Jo-Jo’s name. A lot of it was trivial nonsense; teenage girls asking her about her make-up, mothers of small children asking her what she thought about Ritalin or wives asking what she liked to cook for Chuck when they were alone. But many were far more politically connected, asking her views about women’s rights, children’s rights, gun rights, immigration issues, racism and sexism. Every question was being treated with the same degree of seriousness and politeness, even the obscene or hate-filled ones. Even the death threats. The replies all sounded personal, like they might actually be coming from her, like she might actually care about the anonymous typist on the other end of the cyber conversation.
Thank you, Andrew Crofts and Random Things Tours.
About the author
Andrew Crofts is a ghostwriter and author who has published more than eighty books, a dozen of which were Sunday Times number one bestsellers. He has also guided a number of international clients successfully through the minefield of independent publishing. His books on writing include “Ghostwriting”, (A&C Black) and “The Freelance Writer’s Handbook”, (Piatkus), which has been reprinted eight times over twenty years. Throughout his bestseller, “The Ghost”, Robert Harris quotes Andrew’s seminal book, “Ghostwriting”. Harris’s book went on to become a major movie by the same name, directed by Roman Polanski and starring Ewan McGregor as the eponymous ghost. The opening lines in Robert Harris’s book sum up Andrew’s philosophy: “Of all the advantages ghosting offers, one of the greatest must be the opportunity that you get to meet people of interest”.
Andrew was on the Management Committee of the Society of Authors from 2012 to 2015. He lectures on the subject of making a living from writing at Kingston University, presents Masterclasses on the subject at The Guardian and frequently guests at writing workshops, literary festivals and in the media. He blogs regularly on matters pertaining to publishing, self-publishing and writing.
Website: http://www.andrewcrofts.com/ Twitter : @AndrewCrofts