Ainsley Earhardt is used to keeping her cool while conducting interviews as co-host of Fox News Channel’s top-rated “Fox & Friends” morning show. But when she found herself on the other side of the microphone this week as she made the rounds to promote her brand-new book, the South Carolina native was feeling, maybe, a tiny bit overwhelmed.
“It’s been a crazy day,” Earhardt told the Observer by phone from her New York City home on Tuesday, just hours after her faith-themed memoir “The Light Within Me” landed in brick-and-mortar and online bookstores. “My babysitter just took Hayden (Earhardt’s 2-year-old daughter) out for a little walk, because in the middle of all these interviews she’s running into my bedroom and wants me to hold her and talking to me.
“I was on Sean Hannity’s radio show and he said, ‘You were really vulnerable in this book, and you were talking about your miscarriage,’ and I started talking about that. Then I started crying, and his producer had gone through the same thing and she started crying. In the middle of that, Hayden runs in and she’s like, ‘Mama, Mama, pick me up! Pick me up!,’ “ Earhardt said, laughing. “But I thought, ‘How ironic? I’m talking about this miscarriage and here comes God’s little gift to me, my little baby.’ “
Hayden was actually a main reason Earhardt became an author in the first place: In 2016, Ainsley Earhardt wrote a children’s book titled “Take My Heart: A Mother’s Dream,” then followed it up with another, 2017’s “Through Your Eyes: My Child’s Gift to Me.” Both landed atop the list of New York Times best-selling children’s picture books.
“The Light Within Me” is poised to be an even bigger hit. The book, chronicling how her devotion to God and the inspiration she found in scripture guided her through personal and professional challenges, has lingered near the top of Amazon’s bestseller list since its release.
During our conversation with Earhardt, a Columbia native and University of South Carolina alumna, we learned what inspired her to write the book, how entries from her personal journal figured into it, and — on another subject entirely — why she’s been flying from New York down to Charlotte every weekend since February.
Q. So what made this the right time to tell your story?
A. Well, I wrote the children’s books, and those were wonderful tributes to my life as a daughter and a mother, and just a thank-you to my parents for all the lessons in life they had passed on to me that I could pass onto my child and to other kids around the world. But then there’s this other book I’ve had in my heart that I felt needed to be told. I didn’t think I would tell it now, but HarperCollins approached me and said, “We want to (publish) your memoir about your faith journey and how you got to this place in your life.” They knew I talk about my faith and the journey that I’ve been on on-air often, and am not afraid to talk about it. ...
I was a little apprehensive about it, though, because at first I thought, “I don’t want to be so self-serving, that here I am at 41 years old, and I have this long, great story to tell, so here I am writing a memoir.” At the same time, if someone asks me to share my faith, I can’t say no to that. I feel like that’s God asking me to do something for him, and so I don’t want to turn that down. I’ve always followed his ways — or tried to, at least — and feel like he’s never directed me down the wrong path. So I felt honored to be selected to do this. This story, it’s not just for parents or for grandparents or young children, I feel like it’s for everyone, because it’s a story of faith and God and inspiration. ...
It’s my journey of faith and how I got through the tough times and the great times. I’ve had many more blessings than I have failures, but the failures are what motivate me every day to continue to live my life and help me push forward.
Q. In the book, you included some very personal and very powerful entries from your journal. How long have you kept a journal?
A. A long time. There’ve been times when I’ve done it more than others. When I really discovered who God was and had a firm relationship with him my junior year of college, I journaled constantly. All day long. I had boxes of journals. They were really just love letters to God, just thanking him and praying out loud and telling him my desires. It’s pretty cathartic for me to write a letter to God and tell him what I’m praying for that day or what I’m going through emotionally. ...
But I also wrote those journals so that my daughter would have a deeper knowledge of who I was as a person. If anything happened to me, I knew my children would read those journals, so when I wrote them, I wanted to be honest, but I wanted them to see that I had a strong faith and that with God you can get through anything. ...
Writing the book was not easy because it did take me on an emotional roller coaster; I did go back and read some of those journals about some of the hardest times in my life, and I shared some of those with the readers. I know that I’m being very vulnerable, but I hope the audience appreciates it and maybe a life will be changed, or saved, or someone experiencing a hard time will be able to get through that struggle, because of advice that I’ve given them of how I got through it.
Q. You also go into great detail in the book about your rise through the journalism ranks. Can you sum up what you think it took to get you to where you are today?
A. I think I just put my head to the ground. I didn’t complain, I said yes to every opportunity. ... I had my eyes set on New York, and God gave me that desire. So I didn’t look up, I didn’t breathe, I didn’t take a breath, I feel, like in my life until I got there. Now, I did enjoy the ride. I’ve had a lot of fun. I’ve had a great life. And I’m passionate about my job. I don’t think you can say yes to every opportunity and work the weekends and work the overnight shift unless you’re really passionate about your job. So I encourage everyone to find their passion and go for it.
Q. At the same time, you express a clear affinity in the book for the South — particularly South Carolina. What do you miss most about living there?
A. I do miss family, and the culture, the sweet tea, the barbecue sandwiches, going places and knowing everyone. Like going to a grocery store. I mean, sometimes it’s good in New York when you don’t know anyone, because you can go without your makeup and not worry about your hair and all that. But in the South, you go places and you see people that you know and you go to a restaurant and you’re gonna see three or four families that you grew up with. It’s just the way it is. People don’t leave the South because it’s such an amazing place. ...
I miss the beaches. I miss Charleston. And I miss the vacations. We’re actually going there — all of my best friends rented a house at Isle of Palms in June. We were trying to decide where we wanted to go, and we’re all from South Carolina, and we all said, “Let’s just go home.” One lives in Atlanta and one lives in Florida, so we’re taking all of our kids back home and we’re going to enjoy it. Some of my friends from New York are coming with their kids, too. I just can’t wait to have seafood and beach music and put my toes in the sand.
Q. Although South Carolina is home and you went to most of college at USC and your first reporting job was in Columbia, there’s a quick mention in the first chapter about the fact that your family briefly moved away from South Carolina and you spent your third-grade year at Charlotte’s Sharon Elementary School. You also write that you later learned two other Fox News anchors attended Sharon. That’d be ... ?
A. Heather Childers and Anna Kooiman! Anna’s back (visiting from Australia), so she’s been on our morning show every day this week. Heather was my co-anchor for “Fox & Friends First” for a few years. She’s now anchoring at 4 o’clock in the morning. ... Isn’t that funny? We were there at different times, but it really is crazy how we all came from there.
Q. Do you ever get back to Charlotte?
A. Actually, I haven’t really talked about this, but my mother had a stroke Feb. 1, and she’s been in your hospital (Atrium Health’s Carolinas Rehabilitation center) since February. She’s moving back to another facility in South Carolina, but as a family we’ve spent every weekend in Charlotte. My dad has lived there and has not left her side. And the Charlotte community has just been wonderful. One of our friends in Charlotte, she and her husband just bought another house and she said, “Use our townhouse.” So we’ve done that. We keep eating at all of your restaurants and have loved them all. We’ve had so much fun being there as a family, even though the circumstances are really sad.
Q. I’m so sorry to hear she’s been sick. Is she doing better, I hope?
A. She’s doing a little better. She had to re-learn to talk. She was paralyzed on the right side, but she just started moving her fingers and then she started lifting her arm, so that’s a significant improvement. That means that she could maybe become mobile again and learn to walk. And she’s feeding herself now — she wasn’t able to do that before, so she’s coming along. ...
But I just want to say, that hospital is hands-down the best. I mean, we all said as a family, if we ever have an emergency situation, we’re going to your hospital. All the nurses, all the doctors, all of the therapists she’s worked with are amazing and so sweet. I just miss that Southern mentality. It’s just such a wonderful place where you feel loved. Everyone there saved my mom’s life.