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Books


Happy Sad Land
No Worries
Jack and Zena
The Craic
1900 House
Castaway

Robbie Williams
- Somebody Someday

Tribe
The Meaning of Tingo and Toujours Tingo
Going Dutch in Beijing


Tribe (2007) - buy this title from Amazon.co.uk

 


  Tribe front cover
  buy this title from Amazon.co.uk
   

Ghost-writing is not always as straightforward as it might seem. Even with a terrific agent who specialises in such projects, the path is not necessarily smooth. If the idea of the book hasn’t come from the publisher, you have to sit down with your collaborator and work up their story into an appealing proposal – and there’s no guarantee that the book will be taken up, even if you find their story irresistible.

With Bruce, however, things were easy right from the start. The programme Tribe had had a success d’estime and the book had been sold without a proposal; all they wanted was a writer who could work with Bruce. Luckily, from my side, this wasn’t hard. From the off, Bruce was super-keen on the book project. With Robbie Williams, I’d often had to hang around for interviews, which could be abruptly terminated if Robbie wasn’t in the mood to talk. Bruce, by contrast, couldn’t wait to get stuck in and was ready to answer questions on anything. We sat down in front of the TV and stop-started our way through the existing six programmes, with Bruce filling me in on the on-screen characters as well as some of the fascinating stuff that had gone on behind the scenes. If I had a problem this time, it was too much material, not too little.

  Bruce and Mark in Ibiza
   

The first series had already gone out when Bruce and I started work in September 2005, so we worked from the programmes and memory. After that, as he journeyed off to Africa, South America, the South Pacific and so on, I encouraged Bruce to keep a daily diary of his experiences. This proved very useful and the subsequent nine chapters were based very closely on that. My worked-up chapters were then heavily annotated or redrafted by Bruce, so his involvement was much more full-on than with ghost-written projects I’d worked on in the past. On the terrace of his villa in Ibiza we thrashed through exactly what should stay in the book - by no means always agreeing.

Bruce has been lucky enough to spend time with some of the most remote people left on our planet. His gift for mucking in and getting on with anyone anywhere is at the heart of the experience he describes. In my (undoubtedly biased) view his account of tribal life as it is now is just as interesting and authentic as more scholarly studies of such peoples.

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