Just because kathleen livingston’s job entails shuttling luminaries of the publishing world to and from local appearances doesn’t mean her driving record is spotless. She once got a speeding ticket while chauffeuring Carl Bernstein around town. “I kept thinking, ‘Can the policeman not tell who this is?’ ” she says.
The lawman probably wasn’t as well read as Livingston, who landed her gig almost 25 years ago at the recommendation of a bookstore employee. “I got into the business mainly because I read a lot,” she says. And having a red Cadillac didn’t hurt. The former owner of what is now Kathleen Livingston Associates hired Livingston sight unseen after finding out what kind of car she drove. Now clients such as Paula Deen, Gene Wilder, Joan Collins, John Edwards, Pat Buchanan, Mary Higgins Clark, and David McCullough ride shotgun in Livingston’s silver Lexus SUV. Her business comes from New York publishers wanting a local to chaperone their authors to TV and radio bookings, signings, and so on; she logs about 250 miles per day. Livingston usually greets her fares at the airport with a copy of their latest book in hand, though she says she only reads the ones that interest her (mystery is her favorite genre).
In the line of duty, she’s been asked to wash clothes (“I’ve rinsed out some underwear in my day,” she says), run errands, and act as a positive sounding board to travel-weary writers. “Part of what the job needs is somebody who can impart energy to someone and genuinely say, ‘That was a great interview.’ ” But one of the best parts of the job is the access she’s had to her literary heroes. “I have been able to meet almost everyone I’ve ever thought about meeting, which is pretty cool.”