We—ghostwriters of Deer in the Headlights: My Life in Sarah Palin’s Crosshairs—have been asked by politicalgates to write something about our experience, how we got involved with the project.
Like everyone else who follows politics, we’d read about Levi and had seen him on TV. We are parents to seven kids and have six grandchildren, and this fellow, Sarah Palin’s almost son-in-law, looked to us like he could have been one of our own, a bit shy, personable, respectful. We knew Governor Palin was fond of him—before she began to talk trash about him. Others had joined in, suggesting this teen was a slug—ignorant, a deadbeat dad, an uncaring father. The opposite view was out there, too, like Bristol saying Levi loved their baby and saw Tripp every day.
People who disliked Sarah discounted everything that came out of her mouth….unless her comments were about Levi. These were accepted by donkeys and elephants and every horse’s ass in between—including the media. What had this boy done to generate such animosity? Was there a culture-wide anti-male, anti-father bias? Was there some antipathy to country boys more interested in hunting than man caves. Was there a story there?
And what exactly was Sarah’s beef?
We two—authors who write together—read everything we could find about Levi and still had trouble understanding why he was hated. It seemed worth pursuing. We knew there was a character named Tank Jones flitting around Levi. We’d seen the Wonderful pistachios TV ad campaign, with this huge, well, Tank in the background. We found Tank’s address buried in Google’s history and shot him an email query.
Once the electronic missive was on its cyberflight to Anchorage, one of us said to the other:
Do you think we’ll ever hear anything?
The phone rang. A deep voice, the kind you’d expect a Tank Jones to have, said,
Hello. This is Tank Jones.
It took a three-week stay in Alaska for us, for our agent at Sterling Lord Literistic, for Levi, Tank, and attorney Rex Butler to hammer out a collaboration agreement, then for us to sit down and get to work with Levi in his living room with his cat, Trigger, mewing in the background, playing with Tripp’s toys. Levi made an outline of his experiences and then talked as we recorded and listened, taking him to places he didn’t wish to go.
He edited with us…added, subtracted, clarified.
At the end of a second month-long trip to Wasilla, Levi read and approved the manuscript.
It’s just like me, he told us.
A photographer was flown from Manhattan to shoot the jacket art. The manuscript went into production at Simon & Schuster’s Touchstone imprint. Done. We thought.
Bristol Palin’s book emerged; we knew nothing about it at that point. Levi was asked to answer her most outrageous comments and he did so, in a 2-page addendum.
With the book’s publication, with that “And One More Thing” addition, you, the public, have a chance to see if you agree with our assessment of this young man.
We found Levi to be honest, self-deprecating, fair-minded. He could be any eighteen-year-old who happened to come of age just as his life was caught up by the swirl of national political events and a woman—Sarah Palin—whose complex relationship with him, with her family, and with the country are illuminated by Levi’s telling. This story is an Alaskan tale told from Levi’s fresh perspective with insight and passion. Read it and let us know if you agree.
Instructions for the Q & A Session with James and Lois Cowan.
James and Lois Cowan will join us today for a live question and answers session between 5 and 6pm EST to answer questions about Deer in the Headlights and Levi’s reported life with the Palin family. As two people who worked closely with Levi Johnston I am sure that they will have much to say.
Please be respectful and remember that the book deals with many issues regarding Levi’s interactions between himself and the Palin family. Although you will have questions about Trig etc, and I am sure that James and Lois will try to answer those as much as they can, the book isn’t just about Trig.
Also, please bear with us because we have never attempted a session like this before. We will do our best.
Just ask you question any time between 5 and 6pm and James and Lois will answer in the comments as best they can. One question at a time please.
Also please do not add general comments/links/remarks between 5 and 6pm EST as they will be deleted in order to facilitate the Q & A session. Thanks.
For the start of the Q&A – “The Ghosts are reading the book.” 😉