Books Written by Ghostwriters

Just because an author has died doesn't mean their works do. Read on for books authored by ghostwriters after the author's death.

V.C. Andrews died of breast cancer in 1986, but her family hired a ghostwriter who wrote in Andrews' trademark trope-heavy style (forbidden love, rags to riches, neglect, greed, betrayal, death and gothic). Her most famous book is, arguably, Flowers in the Attic, her first novel published in 1979. Andrew Neiderman, her ghostwriter, completed the series in 1986 with a prequel and has gone on to write many more books as V.C. Andrews.

Stieg Larsson died in 2004 after a heart attack, leaving his "Millennium" series unfinished. Author David Lagercrantz penned the fourth novel, The Girl in the Spider's Web (2015) and has since written two more. Larsson's original plan was for a ten-book series. 

Mickey Spillane died in 2006 from pancreatic cancer, but several novels have been completed by Max Allan Collins who was his friend and literary executor. Max Allan Collins completed Dead Street after Spillane's death using his notes.

Ian Fleming died in 1964 after a heart attack, but James Bond lives on through several other writers who have written about the world's most famous spy. Colonel Sun was the first James Bond novel not written by Ian Fleming, and it was published in 1968.

Robert Ludlum died in 2001 having only published three Jason Bourne novels, but the Bourne mantle was picked up by Eric Van Lustbader. The books are titled to give a nod to Ludlum, but Van Lustbader is given writing credit, as seen on the cover of Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne in The Bourne Legacy

When Robert Jordan died in 2007, he left behind his unfinished final book in the "Wheel of Time"  series, which Brandon Sanderson finished by splitting it into three books, opens a new window. They're credited as co-authors. From Jordan's partial manuscript, Sanderson wrote The Gathering Storm.


Ghostwriting after death brings up a compelling question: who should be credited for the work of ghostwriting? In the case of V.C. Andrews, her books prominently display her name as the author. Mikey Spillane's novels share billing with Max Allan Collins, as does Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan.

But what about the case of a nonexistent author? In the case of Carolyn Keene, author of the Nancy Drew series, she isn't a real person at all. Or Franklin W. Dixon, author of the Hardy Boys series, wasn't real either. They've been "authoring" books since 1930 and 1927, respectively.

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