You are an author of some note, and have just written a book. It’s non-fiction, has gotten good reviews, pushing towards the Top Ten bestseller list. You’ve completed your book tour and your publisher is very pleased.
Yet, something still burns inside. Some of the questions folks asked were good ones, but what you really need is an hour-long penetrating look into your subject, your process and even yourself. A nice bonus would be someone broadcasting and taping the interview.
Yesterday afternoon, Lamb, who lives in Arlington, spoke about his experiences and new book, “Sundays at Eight, 25 Years of Stories from C-SPAN’s Q&A and Booknotes” at Politics and Prose.
Fans of Lamb’s show enjoy the fact he zeroes in on authors who tackle historic public figures, journalists, and human interest. For this anthology, Lamb chose 41 interviews. Biography giants such as McCullough, Chernow, and Caro are here, as well as big names like Erik Larson, Christopher Hitchens, and Michael Lewis.
After some introductory remarks where he thanked those who helped him with this book and his distinguished career, he opened up the floor for, well, Q&A.
Asked what he does with all the books he has received, Lamb replied he donated 800 to George Mason University.
Asked about his interviewing style, one that includes a peppering of personal questions to the author, Lamb said that approach is merely his curiosity speaking out. Out of fear for lagging stretches, he also likes to give the audience a chance to re-energize.
Lamb recalled one interview with Mikhail Gorbachev. At the last minute, the former leader of the Soviet Union said he could only do 30 minutes. Lamb stuck to his guns, saying its one-hour or nothing. Walking back from the restroom, Gorbachev relented.
C-SPAN is a network now enjoying a 35th year on the airwaves. Part of the appeal for those who watch are the formats that allow viewers to see an extended conversation.
Brian Lamb was humble about his role in all this. But make no mistake. Without him, the world of non-fiction would not be as rich as it is.