It can’t be easy penning a best selling book when the credit goes to others. Ask Paul Stenning of Poulton. He’s a ghost writer, the unsung writer of kiss and tell or warts and all accounts of life for a catalogue of sports personalities, soap stars, musicians and more.
He admits: “I have worked with some incredible people, though the curse of the ghostwriter is lack of credit. Many projects have been under the radar. So long as they sell I don’t mind.”
He’s also written unofficial biographies of Hollywood heartthrob Robert Pattinson, Iron Maiden, Guns N Roses, Slash, AC/DC, Type O Negative, The Killers, Rage Against the Machine, Metallica, Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Muse, Foo Fighters’ frontman Dave Grohl, Cure lead Robert Smith, and more.
Slash, who visits Manchester on his solo tour in October, hails the biography “the most accurate book on the band.”
Paul has been described as “very capable” by former Carry On actress Margaret Nolan who also had the pleasure of massaging Sean Connery as James Bond in Goldfinger.
He’s been called a “great sports writer and biographer” by Patty Schnyder, former world top 10 tennis player. He translated her German autobiography The White Mile.
He’s worked with some of the biggest names in show business including Meat Loaf, Take That, Peter Kay, and has lived all over the world – from New York to Cyprus – in pursuit of the ultimate story.
He’s currently ghostwriting the autobiography of Jody Thompson, notorious for being on the FBI’s Most Wanted list when he escaped from prison in Nevada after striking up a romance with a prison dental assistant – and using her mobile phone in his break out.
Thompson, back behind bars, was originally imprisoned for robbing bars and grocery stores in Las Vegas, telling victims at gunpoint he needed the money to treat his cancer-stricken child. He doesn’t have any children.
Thompson said he made the story up to put people at ease and did not want to hurt anyone. “I don’t like seeing people scared,” he said. “I guess I’m a nice robber.”
Paul admits: “Jody’s story is incredible and he and I are collaborating through letters in order to put together his story in the correct format. The most likely release date on Jody’s autobiography is 2014. .”
He also intends to write the definitive biography of the glamour star who switched on Blackpool Lights in 1959 – Jayne Mansfield. “I’d also like to write a balanced biography on Archbishop Makarios III as he is a very misunderstood figure from history.”
The Mansfield and Makarios projects are labours of love. “They’re hobbies of mine.”
One of his big breaks came with his early biography of Robert Pattinson – the Robert Pattinson Album – which has been revised and reprinted. “It was printed at just the right time, just as he was just starting to make it big and people on the peripheral were willing to talk.” The smouldering star who set screens alight for swooning teens has been back in the headlines since his Twilight co-star and partner Kristen Stewart owned up to a fling with a married film director. Hollywood’s hottest young couple are said to have been in “turmoil” since the scandal went public.
Now Paul is turning his attentions closer to home. Literally. He’s become a pen for hire by families looking to tell their own stories.
Paul says the idea took root when he was asked to commemorate the life and times of a local 92 year old woman, a beloved family matriarch. “I was asked to put together a history – her story, really. Around 10,000 words at most. Some articles I’ve written for the music press have been as long so I thought it wouldn’t be too much of a challenge. But it’s actually quite hard to fit 92 years of history in that kind of space. For someone who’s not known beyond her immediate circle, family and friends, she’s had an incredible life.”
There’s a saying that everyone has a story to tell and Paul is ready to find it.
“It’s a lovely gesture for a family – a gift that’s really different and very special and personal. People have no idea how interesting they are.
“Some try to do it themselves but it may not be to the standard required. It’s better to call in a writer and get a set of fresh eyes. I am used to getting the best possible copy out of the shortest time and space available.
“I make my living as a writer but the great thing about this is it keeps me closer to home.
“The biggest interview I’ve ever done was with Meat Loaf who was lovely and down to earth but some small to mid level bands think they are up there with U2 – although U2 are guys you could chat to in the pub.
“What’s nice about family histories is you’re dealing with nice people with the best motives in the world. Genealogy is all the rage but family trees only record so much information and often it is clinical. By doing this, you can bring your family tree to life.”
n For more info see www.paulstenning.co.uk
firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet her @jacquimorley