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Interview: September 25, 2014

You may have seen the Robertsons on the hit A&E show Duck Dynasty, which follows the Louisiana family behind one of the most popular duck hunting products. But now Phil, Willie and the whole gang have made it into their own book series! Cowritten by John Luke Robertson --- the grandson of the Robertson patriarch --- and novelist Travis Thrasher, Be Your Own Duck Commander is a choose-your-own-adventure series that takes members of the clan on absurd, hilarious adventures through time, space and unpredictable hunts.

Read our interview with John Luke below to see what it was like to write a series as a teenager, where he'd go if he had his own time machine and why he chose to use his family members as his protagonits! What made you decide to use your family and family business as the subject of a book series?

John Luke Robertson: So many people have loved watching our show and learning about our family, so we decided to feature the Robertsons as characters in these stories. And with fiction, we can make anything happen to the characters. You get to see my family outside of West Monroe in these stories--- and the sky’s the limit for the Robertsons. 

TRC:  You wrote a whole series at age 18! When did you start writing?  What did you write prior to this series? 

JLR: Essays in English class. I’ve been blogging for a while --- those have come from telling stories, and we’re always telling them. If I don’t come up with a good story around my family, I end up getting kicked out of the room since it’s full of great storytellers. 

TRC:  What was your favorite part about writing a book series?  What was the most challenging part?

JLR: The fun part was linking the books together--- that was really creative. Thinking through the scenarios was a lot of fun, too. The toughest part was keeping track of all the crazy story lines! 

TRC:  How similar are the characters in WILLIE'S REDNECK TIME MACHINE to the way your family members are portrayed in the "Duck Commander" TV show?

JLR: The shows portrays my family how they are pretty well, and so does the book. We portrayed them how they are in real life. My Dad has a great sense of humor and that shows in the story. Since you’re in Willie’s point-of-view, you get to literally be him. But how he responds to things is very much like he would in real life. 

TRC:  Why did you choose your dad to be the protagonist of WILLIE’S REDNECK TIME MACHINE?

JLR: Well, each book has a different character you can be. And we chose the four most popular characters in our family: Willie, Phil, Jase and Si. If we ever do more, I could see having my mother, Sadie, Jep, and others being the main character. And I’m always along for the ride.

TRC:  Did your family help you in the writing process? If so, what did they contribute? 

JLR: They contributed by just being themselves and doing crazy things that you can pull funny stories from. 

TRC:  How did you decide on the choose-your-own-adventure format?

JLR: There were lots of different story lines that we tossed around. This was something that Travis and I came up with.  We had so many great story ideas that we finally combined them in a format that allowed us to put them all together. 

TRC:  What was your process for thinking up all the different possible endings?

JLR: It came out of saying “what if this happened” over and over again. We’d start a storyline and map out a bunch of different what ifs in one book. It’s what if piled on top of a bunch of what ifs. 

TRC:  What books did you like to read as a kid?

JLR: The Magic Treehousewas a favorite series of mine in kindergarten and first grade. Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker were favorite authors of mine in middle school.

TRC:  The time machine idea is so much fun! If you could go to any time and place in a time machine, where would you choose, and why?

JLR: That’s a hard question to answer. I know where I’d not go --- I wouldn’t go when my parents first met in high school. That happens in the book and it made me feel quite . . . uncomfortable. 

TRC:  If you could use your time machine to meet any famous person from history, who would you choose?

JLR: I know it’s an obvious answer, but I’d love to meet Jesus after He was resurrected and before He went up to Heaven. 

TRC:  In WILLIE’S REDNECK TIME MACHINE, your dad goes back in time and sees his former self. What would you say to your younger self if you had a chance to talk to him?

JLR: "Don’t come out of the womb!” No --- probably I would just tell my younger self to write more things down. And also to drop Psychology. 

TRC:  Can you tell us a bit about the other books in the Be Your Own Duck Commander series?

JLR: Sure. Phil battles supernatural beings in his book. Si goes out into space. And Jase goes on the hunt of his life. They’re wild and fun stories. 

TRC:  Do you have plans to write any more books?

JLR: Time will tell. I plan on writing more, but we’ll have to see how these books do! 

John Luke Robertson is the oldest son of Korie and Willie Robertson and one of the stars of Duck Dynasty®. An avid reader as well as outdoorsman, John Luke has proven himself as a leader in his church youth group and at his school. His summers are busy with mission trips and working at a Christian youth camp. John Luke speaks regularly at youth events, where he encourages young people to live the life God has planned for them.