Last Tuesday, The New York Times ran a piece about ghostwriting in the food writing industry, how ghostwriters, especially, get very little credit for the work they do and often do not get very much input from the chefs they are writing a book for. In this piece, ghostwriter Julia Turshen, who collaborated with Gwyneth Paltrow on her recent cookbook, My Father’s Daughter, is brought up to speak about her tenure as a ghostwriter. Which would be fine, if Turshen were Paltrow’s ghostwriter.
However, Paltrow says the woman is not. In fact the Iron Man actress seems to be pretty hot and bothered by the Times’ piece, even taking to Twitter on Saturday to express her disapproval over the article in which her book was a bit of a focal point.
“Love @nytimes dining section but this weeks facts need checking. No ghost writer on my cookbook, I wrote every word myself.”
Readers who take a close look at My Father’s Daughter will notice there is no mention of Turshen on the title or copyright pages. However, readers who delve a little further will find an author’s note written by Paltrow expressing her gratitude for Turshen’s work on the book.
“I literally could not have written this book without the tireless, artful assistance of Julia Turshen, who stood over my shoulder at the stove and chopping block for the better part of a year, bringing a method to my freestyling madness. She quantified, tested, and retested every recipe, oversaw the production of the photos, helped brainstorm in a crisis, and, above all, was my intellectual and emotional support through the whole process.”
Additionally, on Turshen’s personal website, the ghostwriter lists My Father’s Daughter as work she has been involved in. Thus, what we seem to have here is a battle over word choice. Perhaps Paltrow did have more creative input than The New York Times article is suggesting and feels ghostwriter is an improper word choice. It’s true The New York Times article gives little credit to the initiators of the recipes, and probably Paltrow is feeling a little jilted, which is understandable if she was involved with the writing process the whole way through. The fact of the matter is, Paltrow did get some help and did get that help from Turshen. Maybe ghostwriter is not the right term, and maybe it is not so far off as some of us would be led to believe.