I’ll never forget how excited I was to watch the final episode of the first season of The Bachelor. Would Alex Michael give the rose and propose to Amanda or Trista? I remember at the time, my now 13 year-old son was a baby, and we rushed to get him to bed so I wouldn’t miss one minute (no DVRing back then.)
So, 13 years later, I jumped at the opportunity to interview Chris Harrison, who has hosted the show since it premiered in 2002. I originally thought I was going to be talking to Chris about The Bachelor, of course, along with his new romance novel, “The Perfect Letter.” What I found out halfway through the interview was that Chris got divorced a few years ago. (Married for 19 years and has 2 kids.) Not sure how I missed that one, but we ended up talking about it and Chris offered some great divorce advice.
Here is my interview with Chris, an Oklahoma City University graduate, who spent six years as a sportscaster in Oklahoma City before landing his successful gig with the Bachelor.
JP: Why did you get divorced?
CH: We got married very young, and it’s cliché, but we grew apart. We are still very good friends.
JP: Tell me about being newly separated and how that felt.
CH: I’m a caretaker, so I needed to know everyone was going to be OK. I worried about my kids. I’m southern and I have that family thing. So, it was tough for me, but once I realized the kids were going to be OK and probably better off, I was able to focus on moving on.
JP: While you were working (on set of the Bachelor) and going through a divorce, was that difficult?
CH: Yes. During the show, I was at these incredibly romantic resorts and I would be there alone. It was depressing trying to facilitate love and weddings and honeymoons and here I am walking on the beach alone. It was sadly ironic.
JP: What divorce advice do you have for my readers?
CH: I’ve never been one to believe the grass is always greener. That doesn’t exist. Be careful as to why you are getting divorced and make sure it’s the last option. Because, even the most amicable divorces are brutal and hard emotionally on everyone. Go into it knowing it’s going to be tough. It’s a mourning process. You’re losing somebody. All that said, life is short and you have to find your own happiness.
JP: When it comes to life, romance and love, what are you looking for?
CH: I have an amazing life. Two amazing children and an ex wife I appreciate. At this stage, I’m looking for someone to add to my life, someone who will be a great friend and a great addition to the life I’m living. My advice to newly separated men and women: take some time and figure out who you are and what you really want. You need to feel the loss, and not just fill it with the first person you find. There’s a huge difference between adding someone to your life and needing someone.
The Bachelor shows
JP: The Bachelor franchise has had 29 seasons. Why is it such a success?
CH: There is one currency that works and is accepted anywhere you go, and that’s love and companionship. It’s one thing every culture understands, relates to and gets. That’s the reason for the massive appetite.
JP: Give me some stats.
CH: Four marriages have resulted from the shows. No divorces yet!
Harrision’s romance novel: “The Perfect Letter”
JP: Why did you decide to write a book?
CH: I’ve been approached with book deals for many years, most of them along the lines of dating, tell all, etc. but nothing resonated with me. Fictional romance struck chord with me because it’s giving the fans we already serve on The Bachelor more of what they want.
JP: What was the writing process like?
CH: I wasn’t writing in a cave. In other words, I wasn’t doing it alone. I had a team to hash out ideas and the story and I bounced ideas off of people and had them read parts of it throughout the entire process. I shared love scenes to people I admired and trusted.
JP: Tell me about “The Perfect Letter”
CH: The overall theme is a love triangle, which is really what you see on the shows. Things I’ve seen and learned on the shows have bled into the pages of The Perfect Letter.
What I wanted to create is escapism. We’re all busy parents and professionals with so little free time. I want someone to pick up the book for 5 minutes at a time or read the whole thing on a beach in 3 days. It’s a chance to get away, to be romantic. It also has drama, mystery and intrigue.
The other thing is, I had that passion and romance and love before I even started hosting the show. It’s always been a big part of who I am and that shows through in the novel.
My favorite Chris Harrison quote:
“I’m an eternal optimist. I always see the silver lining. When I look at my divorce, I think about how wonderful my marriage was for a long time. I don’t regret anything and I don’t look at it as a negative.”
I have to say, the entire time I was talking to Chris, I felt like I was having coffee at Starbucks with an old friend. Chris is the real deal. He’s sweet and kind and genuine. By the way, did you know he is an ordained minister?? Thanks Chris! Can’t wait to read your book! To learn more about Chris’s book, visit: http://www.amazon.com/The-Perfect-Letter-A-Novel/dp/0062305220