BC program chair spending fall quarter ghostwriting overseas

Posted by on October 14, 2011

MSB-BC's Ryan Samuelson

The next three months will be substantially different than a typical quarter of teaching for Minnesota School of Business-Brooklyn Center’s Ryan Samuelson, as he will be traveling through Europe gathering material for a book he’s been hired to write.

Don’t expect seeing his name on the cover upon its completion, or anywhere inside the book for that matter, as Samuelson will be a ghostwriter and will not receive any publicity for his efforts. This practice isn’t all that uncommon as autobiographies written about celebrities, politicians and athletes are often penned by a ghostwriter who takes no credit.

Samuelson, the program chair of BC’s criminal justice program, is being paid by a former Iraq War veteran originally from Brainerd to write a book about his abundant life experiences and stories. Written from the perspective of the former serviceman, some of the stories range from his experiences helping secure the Baghdad airport road shortly after the United States’ invasion of Iraq, to the lifestyle provided by having affluent friends in various countries, to his thoughts on urban gardening and sustainability.

“He will take credit for the book and he will be author. I will be paid just as the ghostwriter.” Samuelson said. “The stories themselves will write the book, but he’s hiring me to kind of find themes, organize, and to find better language for how he describes things to me.”

As for Samuelson’s interest in the project, he was recommended by a former graduate school colleague who happened to be an acquaintance of the man looking to hire a ghost writer. Despite the position being closed, and 30-50 interviews already conducted, Samuelson still applied.  

“He read my travel blogs from my time abroad and I think that’s what sold him the most,” added Samuelson, who was able to land an in-person meeting in the Twin Cities.

The in-person meetings weren’t entirely interviews in the conventional sense, as candidates were asked to pick a location and activity of their own liking.

“He really just wanted to hang out.” said Samuelson.  “Some took him hiking and did various activities like that, but I didn’t try to do too much. I took him to the oldest bar in Minneapolis and showed him how thrifty I could be with the reverse happy hour. We drank craft beers and discussed perspectives of the world.”

Samuelson, who received a master’s degree from Arizona State and a bachelor’s from Drake, will spend a month and half based out of Prague in the Czech Republic and an additional month in the Norwegian city of Trondheim.  His travels will also take him to Vienna (Austria), Bratislava (Slovakia) and through the Baltic states.

“We’re going to kind of spider web around Europe from those locations.” Samuelson said. “The guy I’m writing for has former friends that he served with, former employees and friends all throughout Europe. He’s going to go out with them and he’s going to tell the stories, while I will just interview them.  I’m going to spend the day writing and the evening trying to get stories out of him. There’s definitely a lot he wants me to learn because meeting him doesn’t reflect who he thinks the average Army serviceman is.”

After his three-month stay in Europe, Samuelson will return to the Twin Cities and have an additional six months to write as he is responsible for over 150 pages of copy, but not necessarily for the entire cover-to-cover content.

“He originally wanted to hire me for a full year, with five months spent traveling and seven writing, but so I could come back to MSB and keep my position we condensed the time.” he said.

Samuelson, who wrote many literature reviews for professors while in grad school, thinks the experience will give him a clear perspective on his own writing ambitions.

“It’s one of those win-win situation,” he said, “I could get over there and realize it’s way over my head and just crank out a certain number of pages so I’m off the hook or I could get really into it and feel the story and find that writing is where I want to be.”


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