I am a Sunday Times best-selling ghostwriter and have turned my pen to novels, short stories, travel and film scripts.
Everyone has a book in them. I have been honoured to help many people find theirs.
I would also say that everyone's story is unique. This is mine.
I started my career as a cub reporter in Kent. After four years gathering news on the local courts, flower shows and council shenanigans, I went to Greece as the editor of the English language daily, The Athens News, to report on the shenanigans of the Greek colonels who had seized power in a military coup. After I reported on the anti-government speech by German author Günter Grass at Athens University, I was rudely ‘asked to leave’ the country.
My trips from Athens to Cairo and Istanbul had given me a taste for travel and I moved on to India where I studied Buddhism in Dharamsala, a hill station in the Himalayas and home to the Tibetan refugee community. I worked with the Dalai Lama as one of a team translating Tibetan sacred texts into English and wrote my first book: Stories From Beyond the Clouds, an anthology of Tibetan folk tales.
Holding the book in my hand was life changing. I had a mission – a pressing desire to write, which I feel as strong today as I did then. Buddhism had given me the sense that all things were possible. The only fear is self-doubt and the millstone we carry is our attachment to things.
From the yin of life in India, I chose the yang of Hollywood, where I was lucky to meet the actress Carol White at a time when she was searching for an English writer to help with her memoirs. Carol Comes Home provided me with a literary agent and launched my vocation as a ghostwriter. Writing is a lonely art and ghosting provides the opportunity to work with a partner and watch something grow together.
Now, with more than 20 books to my name, one critic has written: 'Thurlow is noted for creating novelised-style true life memoirs,' and Penny Wark of The Times kindly described me as 'One of the UK's top ghostwriters.'
Among my more than twenty published books are two Sunday Times Top 10 best-sellers: Runaway (Simon & Schuster 2013), the story of Emily MacKenzie's life as a teenage prostitute; and Today I'm Alice (Sidgwick & Jackson 2009), Alice Jamieson's long struggle living with multiple personalities.
My latest book is Typhoon: The Inside Story of an RAF Fighter Squadron at War (Penguin, 2021), the fast-paced account of Wing Commander Mike Sutton leading the iconic 1 Squadron on 300 missions against ISIS in 2015 with the constant threat of Russian jets and ground-to-air missiles. 'Puts you right there in the cockpit' -- John Nichol; 'Visceral . . . Captivating' ― Daily Mail.
Operation Jihadi Bride, John Carney's mission to rescue young women from Isis (Monoray, 2019), was released to a mass of TV and press publicity - 'Fascinating ... incredibly dangerous,' wrote Ben Machell in The Times. 'A true-life account with all the makings of a military thriller - the action unfolds like a le Carré novel as co-author Clifford Thurlow brings Carney and a cast of colourful accomplices to life,' Soldier Magazine 'Book of the Month.'
Fatwa: Living With A Death Threat (Hodder & Stoughton 2005), describes the flight of Jacky Trevane across the desert with two children to escape an abusive husband - translated into 12 languages, a best-seller in Germany and France with 500,000 copies sold worldwide.
My books set in Iraq with former infantry captain James Ashcroft, are Escape From Baghdad (Virgin 2009), the rescue of Ashcroft's former Iraqi interpreter and his family from Shia Death Squads, W H Smith's Top Twenty; and Making A Killing (Virgin 2006) - on which Andy Martin wrote in The Daily Telegraph: 'Ashcroft must have formed a good working alliance with ghostwriter Clifford Thurlow, because this diary of death and destruction radiates not just personality but that illusive, lyrical honesty the existentialists used to call authenticity.'
I worked with the Colombian dancer Carlos Lozano on his memoir Sex, Surrealism, Dali and Me, which spent 19 weeks in the Spanish best-seller charts, and had a new lease of life with the 2019 release of the audible book in English read by Pete Nottage.
It was after my long sabbatical in India that I gave up journalism to write full time and have dabbled over the years with occasional articles for numerous publications including The Sunday Telegraph, The Times and The Observer. I have two sons and live with the travel writer Iris Gioia, with whom I wrote Brief Spring: A Journey Through Eastern Europe. We divide our time between London and Cadaqués, Spain, where I lay out my pencils and notebooks in exactly the same way and take Ernest Hemingway’s advice: always leave your writing unfinished so you have something other than the blank page to go back to the next day.