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Am I the only one?

(including the other many pseudonyms of Eleanor Hibbert)
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Mythica
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Am I the only one?

Post by Mythica » Sat November 20th, 2010, 11:41 am

Am I the only one to question how Jean Plaidy (or whichever name you want to call her) managed to write all the books she did? Even though she wrote over a period of several decades, if you count up all the books she wrote under all her pen names and divide it by the amount of years she was writing, she would have had to write something like 2-4 books per year. And if you consider how historically accurate they are, they must have taken a lot of research. Granted, some of her books cover the same topic so they use the same research. But still, how many authors can pump out 2-4 books per year even if they are on the same subject? Am I the only one to suspect she had ghost writers?

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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Sat November 20th, 2010, 2:28 pm

Interesting question. I haven't read a lot of her books so I'm not one to judge but that is a lot of books, and not just under the Plaidy name. All those V. Holt books as well.
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N. Gemini Sasson
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Post by N. Gemini Sasson » Sat November 20th, 2010, 2:29 pm

A valid question, Mythica. As a teenager browsing through the library in the 70's/80's, Plaidy was my first taste of HF. Maybe others who've read more of her works more recently could comment on the accuracy of her books, but I do remember re-reading one of the ones in the Plantagenet series a few years back (Star of Lancaster, maybe?) and noticing she had Owain Glyndwr in places at times when he couldn't possibly have been there - but again, I'm a little fuzzy on this, since it was a few years ago.

At any rate, she did cover an enormous scope of history. Who knows if she had someone helping her, but maybe she was just one of those crazily prolific writers, like a Stephen King or Barbara Cartland?

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Post by Misfit » Sat November 20th, 2010, 2:37 pm

A lightbulb just went off in my head - Dumas had help and IIRC I've read somewhere that he had help from other authors getting the books written.
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Post by Miss Moppet » Sat November 20th, 2010, 2:44 pm

[quote=""Misfit""]A lightbulb just went off in my head - Dumas had help and IIRC I've read somewhere that he had help from other authors getting the books written.[/quote]

He did. Other authors are just crazy prolific. I've never heard that JP had assistant writers so perhaps she was one of them. Where I suspect she may have had help is the research - simply because this doubles the work of writing a book, so it's the most obvious thing to outsource.

Today writers often emphasise that they do their own research, but in Plaidy's day no-one thought anything of hiring research assistants, especially if they weren't based near a major library - Daphne du Maurier hired researchers to follow up stuff for her in London, for example.

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Post by boswellbaxter » Sat November 20th, 2010, 2:54 pm

Judging from the novels in which she listed the works she consulted, I think she pretty much stuck to readily accessible books in doing her research, so it might not have been as time-consuming as it was for someone who goes after more obscure material. And she tended to revisit the same time periods often, so she didn't have to do new research for each book she wrote.

Her books pretty much reflect the popular history of the time. I can see the influence of Thomas Costain very heavily in her novels about Edwards I-III, for instance, and of Agnes Strickland in her novel about Margaret of Anjou.
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Michy
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Post by Michy » Sat November 20th, 2010, 4:02 pm

[quote=""Mythica""] she would have had to write something like 2-4 books per year. And if you consider how historically accurate they are, they must have taken a lot of research. Granted, some of her books cover the same topic so they use the same research. But still, how many authors can pump out 2-4 books per year even if they are on the same subject? Am I the only one to suspect she had ghost writers?[/quote]

In her prime, Georgette Heyer also wrote two books every year. And she is known for her thorough research and historical accuracy, and no one has ever questioned whether she used a ghost writer. So, I think it is possible. Perhaps the reason Heyer "only" wrote two books per year, versus the apparent 2-4 cranked out by Plaidy/Holt/Carr is because she did spend more time on research.

ETA: Heyer was well-known for her refusal to participate in any publicity at all -- she wouldn't even grant any interviews. So, of course, that left her even more time for research and writing!
Last edited by Michy on Sat November 20th, 2010, 4:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by stumpy » Sat November 20th, 2010, 8:01 pm

Without being really rude about JP,she didn't have to create original works of fiction, she stuck to the general historical line,no original research,not even like our much loved PG a different interpretation of the facts. I enjoyed reading JP as a teenager but the books are dry and uninspired on rereading. However I know a lot of history!!!

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Post by princess garnet » Sat November 20th, 2010, 9:19 pm

Shortly after her death in 1993, this article appeared about her life and work. Hope this answers some of your questions!

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Mythica
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Post by Mythica » Sun November 21st, 2010, 10:26 am

[quote=""stumpy""]Without being really rude about JP,she didn't have to create original works of fiction, she stuck to the general historical line,no original research,not even like our much loved PG a different interpretation of the facts. I enjoyed reading JP as a teenager but the books are dry and uninspired on rereading. However I know a lot of history!!![/quote]

I guess that's why I like JP, I'm not a fan of PG's "interpretations" (which some might say are just inaccurate). I find her characters very one dimensional and black and white. JP's writing style might be a bit dry at times but her characters are more complex and realistic.

Based on what everyone has said, I think it's possible she outsourced her researched which allowed her to devote her time to writing like a mad woman, lol.

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