As Told To
As Told To
Oct 5, 2021
Episode 4: Lisa Dickey
Play • 1 hr 11 min

“Each author is different, and each book a puzzle we figure out together,” Lisa Dickey writes, of her work as a collaborator.

In the course of her career as one of publishing’s most sought-after ghostwriters, Lisa has put together over 20 such puzzles, alongside a rich and varied list of high-profile clients, including first lady Jill Biden (Where the Light Enters); Illinois senator and Iraqi war veteran Tammy Duckworth (Every Day is a Gift); Cissy Houston (Remembering Whitney); and Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi (The Time of My Life).  

She has also written books with California Governor Gavin Newsom; legendary jazz pianist Herbie Hancock; and former Hearst Magazines president Cathie Black, among others. 

“I’m a storyteller at heart,” Lisa writes, “and I feel incredibly lucky to have helped some of the most intriguing, accomplished and eminent people in the world tell their stories.” 

She’s not kidding about the “storyteller at heart” piece of the puzzle, because in addition to her collaborative work Lisa is also a “brilliant, real and readable” writer in her own right—at least according to no less an authority on such matters as former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, weighing in on Lisa’s Bears in the Streets: Three Journeys Across a Changing Russia, a look at the lives and beliefs of contemporary Russians, based on interviews she conducted with the same subjects over the span of 20 years.

Here’s Lisa on how learning to speak Russian has informed her work as a writer: “When you start thinking about how [you are] going to express yourself in this other language, you start to really understand how language is put together… and how the native language that you speak affects the way that you think and the way that you express yourself.”

Lisa’s feel for language finds its way into her collaborative work as well, as she translates the innermost thoughts of her subjects onto the page in such a way that their stories ring true. 

Check her out on stage at the Moth Grand Slam.

Facebook: @lisadickeyauthor

Twitter: @lisawritesbooks


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