In The Fiction Writer by Jillian Cantor, Olivia Fitzgerald is a published author, but her second novel failed and her agent struggles to sell the third. After her boyfriend dumps her, Olivia is desperate for money and agrees to explore a ghostwriting job with recently widowed billionaire Henry Asherwood who lives in Malibu not far from Los Angeles where Noah, her good friend from college lives.
Olivia and her agent sign a nondisclosure agreement about the task, and from the start, Olivia is insecure, testy and often deceitful. In a form of self-sabotage, she withholds information from Noah, frequently poking him with questions when she already knows the answer.
Strange parallels emerge. Olivia’s own failed novel, Becky, was based on Rebecca, the novel by Daphne du Maurier. The billionaire suggests that du Maurier may have stolen the plot of her famous novel from his grandmother. His late wife also had a fascination with du Maurier. Likewise, both the wife and grandmother had cousins who were close friends. Clara, cousin to Asherwood's wife, works as a housekeeper when Olivia arrives and shows keen interest in the billionaire's affairs. Everyone in the Asherwood home lies, and Olivia grows stronger as she becomes more truthful with Noah.
More than one woman associated with Asherwood dwells on the Rebecca story, and there is more than one fiction writer. The result is a novella inside The Fiction Writer. In that novella a cousin confides that she understands and envies “what it must feel like to have creativity in your soul, words in your blood, a private space all your own.”
An intriguing idea can be told in more than one way.