"We'd like for you to tell our story," Congressman Trey Gowdy said to me in a conference call more than a year ago. We had five people on the call that stretched across the country, and I was in a job interview. They were looking for an author.
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott and Congressman Trey Gowdy wanted to write a memoir of their friendship, a remarkable story of two men who came from very different paths that converged upon the backdrop of Washington DC.
I really, really wanted to write this book. But I had a confession to make. "I think I should tell you that I'm apolitical. Politics is not something I do."
"And that's why we want you."
The Congressman went on to say, "Tricia, I read your blog when I was on an airline flight, and that's not my most ideal time to start crying, as I was seated between two strangers. But I read your story, and you made me want to kiss my wife, without ever telling me to kiss my wife."
And that may be the best compliment of my writing that I've ever received. He said that my writing compels people to action without telling them what to do. And that's the kind of writer they wanted.
They invited me to join their team, and then he said, "We just have one request: please don't Google us. We love that you don’t know our story, and we'd like to paint on the clean canvas. Let us tell the story we want to tell, not the story that's already been told."
Deal. I Googled nobody.
A few weeks later, I flew to South Carolina to be sequestered for a few days with a senator, a congressman, and our editorial manager, Janet Thoma. She has retired from the publishing industry where she owned her own imprint, so she's an expert of all experts. Janet brought us into her lakefront home, she oversaw each word of the project, and she fed us extravagantly.
From the very start, they set me straight on another expectation: "Please. Call us Tim and Trey." And that's how the names of two White House leaders became household names to me.
I spent three days with them, asking them questions and hearing their stories, recording it all, hour after hour. I flew back home, and I got to work on my greatest writing challenge yet. For a girl who writes memoir of her own experiences in her own voice, it was quite a different journey to write in the voices of two men who are unbelievably intelligent in topics I've never studied. And it was one of the great honors of my professional life so far.
I spent months thinking in their voices, learning their stories, defending their editorial preferences, and texting them for specific word choices. I had the time of my life.
Here's what I can tell you about Congressman Trey Gowdy and Senator Tim Scott: these two men are the Real Deal.
Their brand is authenticity, and they never ever contradicted themselves, each other, or their values. They are funny and authentic, brilliant and wise, compassionate and loyal. If you're hungry for some leaders who remain worthy of our trust, please read this book.
And let me just add this: if either of them ever runs for President, my vote is a solid YES.
"Unified tells the remarkable story of two men who came from very different backgrounds:
one the ambitious grandson of a cotton picker, the other trained as a lawyer.
Decades ago, no one would have predicted their paths would one day be intertwined.
But they became good friends and an inspiration to others.
If such a friendship can thrive in the competitive world of Washington DC,
it can happen in your community as well.
We can restore our communities, one friendship at a time.
Our nation is hungry for unity.
Most Americans would rather celebrate what we have in common than focus on our differences,
but the feelings of division are real.
We long for a story that will give us a glimpse of how to once again find harmony within our diversity.
This is that story."
Senator Tim Scott and Congressman Trey Gowdy