A Road Trip to Meet the Duggar Family
June 9th, 2011
One of the reasons I have loved interviewing authors in the Washington, D.C. area for the last 26 years is that sooner or later almost everyone comes to the nation’s capital.
Of the three hundred or so interviews I do in a typical year, only about two or three, if that many, are done by telephone, although I am soon going to open up Eye on Books to Skype interviews — that should be interesting.
Back in the day I had a comfy, soundproof, air-conditioned studio, and I just whipped authors in and out, one after another, every day. These days, however, I’m the one doing the schlepping around — happily so, I might add — as I meet authors at hotels, coffee shops, their homes (quite a few big names live in the DC-Baltimore area) or at bookstore events.
It was a bookstore event last evening that inspired me to make my first-ever road trip for an Eye on Books interview. (No, I don’t count the interviews I once did at a Sisters in Crime convention in Houstin in ’95. They flew me in to speak, and I didn’t have to do a thing other than show up, speak for a few minutes, then spend two days interviewing dozens of authors. Another story for another time.)
Last evening I made the 90-minute drive from my home near Baltimore to Barnes & Noble in Camp Hill, PA for an interview with Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, parents of 19 children and authors of “A Love That Multiplies.”
Despite the fact it was about a billion degrees in Camp Hill, there were at least a hundred people lined up outside the store when I arrived an hour and a half before the event. Not long after B&N staff — led by the most gracious CRM, Shawn Lutz — brought those customers in, the Duggars’ bus arrived. And more fans kept arriving.
You would have thought the bus was bringing Lady Gaga or Sarah Palin, by the crowd’s response. The Duggars obviously have many, many fans and admirers. A teenaged girl standing next to me with her camera was nearly breathless: “Here they come! Here they come!”
I interviewed Michelle and Jim Bob in the manager’s office while the Duggar clan gathered in the staging area, otherwise known as the break room. A TLC crew arrived just as my interview wrapped up, and soon the Duggar family was at the front of the store before a wildly cheering crowd that Shawn Lutz said was the largest the store had ever seen. She estimated the crowd at 500, but there were perhaps another 100 still outside when I left the building, as the event was getting underway.
Publishers and authors, don’t get your hopes up. I can’t travel that far for a single interview very often. But the chance for a little adventure made this trip worthwhile.
Big thanks also to Sally Brock, whom I met last evening, Libby Reed, and Jennifer Smith at Howard Books/Simon & Schuster, for arranging the interview.