Millie Bobby Brown’s novel puts ghostwriters in the spotlight

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The Future. Ghostwriting has been around forever, but the release of Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown’s debut novel is re-questioning the practice. While the criticism toward Brown may be steeped in much more than just her use of a ghostwriter, the conversation could push more celebrities to be open about it (as Brown was) and credit them in some official way.

Authenticity credentials
Millie Bobby Brown’s Nineteen Steps is stirring up some complicated feelings about ghostwriting.

  • The novel was written by author Kathleen McGurl, who was provided research from Millie and sent notes over the course of several drafts (essentially, the work of an editor).
  • Brown has been open about her use of a ghostwriter, but the novel only being credited to her stoked some passionate criticism, with readers saying ghostwriters should now also have their names on the cover.

Brown has plenty of defenders who say the criticism seems only to pop up when it’s a young, famous woman’s face on the book. For example, Prince Harry’s best-selling memoir, Spare, was ghostwritten by JR Moehringer, and no one really seemed to mind.

The difference, as unfair as it might be, is our contemporary influencer culture puts a premium on authenticity (especially with women). And using a ghostwriter and taking sole credit may no longer be compatible with that.


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