Staying in with Kevin Stone

You know, it’s a real privilege to ‘meet’ new authors and find out about their books. It gives me enormous pleasure to welcome Kevin Stone to Linda’s Book Bag today to tell me about a book which has such an intriguing title!

Staying in with Kevin Stone

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Kevin.

Thank you so much, Linda, for the invite. I’m excited to sit down (metaphorically) and talk with you.

Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

No, thank you! I’m honoured to be here.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

I’ve brought my novel, The Onion Ring Lovers (Guide to Vermont), which was just published August 7th. It’s my debut novel and, as I’m sure you can expect, I’m excited to share it with people. After years of writing and re-writing, and countless drafts, seeing it in print has been incredibly rewarding. Even more so is the opportunity to have it in the hands and on the screens of readers and book lovers.

Congratulations on your debut novel Kevin. You must be delighted to see it in print. What can we expect from an evening in with The Onion Ring Lovers (Guide to Vermont) A Novel?  

My family moved around frequently as a child. We never quite settled in a place to put down roots, so I often found myself in the role as an observer, an outsider looking in. In the course of one of our cross-country journeys across the United States, our family found itself in the unassuming state of Vermont. I did not know at the time what a profound effect my time in the Green Mountain state would have on me. The strain of so many moves, so little money, and one too many indiscretions had its final toll on our family. It was in Vermont that the family broke, and my parents divorced.

Gosh. What a memory. I think there’s a degree of autobiography in many books. How did this affect your writing?

It was on this foundation that I built the (fictional) story about the Suttons, a family that relocated to Vermont with the best of intentions but experienced the worst of outcomes.

Inspired by the unique and varied people of Vermont, the fiction novel is full of real and imagined places and facts. I wanted to create a picture of the Vermont that meant so much to me. Set in two timelines, the book alternates between the year that the Sutton family threw caution to the wind, sold everything, and cast their fate in running a snack stand in a year-round Christmas-themed attraction on a tiny island off the shores of Lake Champlain, and in the present, where the adult Jim Sutton returns to the state on the pretence of writing his travelogue novel The Onion Ring Lover’s Guide to Vermont.

I think The Onion Ring Lover’s Guide to Vermont sounds wonderful Kevin. How is it being received?

Some praise for the novel:

“What gives the book its power, however, is the autobiography that resonates behind every page. Stone has clearly harnessed deeply-felt memories in his book, and re-dressed them in fictive form. His descriptions of Vermont at its most beautiful, and later, at its most dangerous, merit reading again and again. “

Laura C Stevenson, author of Liar from Vermont

“I grew up in Vermont, and this book brought me home. The imagery is beautiful, the characters are engaging, and I didn’t see the ending coming. Stone not only captures the place but also the quirky nuance of the people in a way that is authentic and familiar, and yes, a little disturbing. Onion Ring Lovers is a strong debut novel, and it’s well worth your time. I look forward to more from Kevin Stone.”

Amazon review

Those reviews make me want to dive right in to The Onion Ring Lover’s Guide to Vermont.

What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?

I brought a couple of things!

First, there’s a book within the book. The (fictional) protagonist of the novel, Jim Sutton, is writing his own book, The Onion Ring Lover’s Guide to Vermont. Part of my (delicious) research for the book was going to some very real places in Vermont and writing reviews in Jim’s own hand. Alas, like so many authors forced to “kill their darlings,” the reviews were too long for the novel. They did not die off the page, but rather live on in digital form on the novel’s dedicated website, onionringlovers.com. This is a link to the page with Jim’s reviews.

Ha! That’s brilliant.

Second, I would like to share a recipe for low-carb, air fryer onion rings, a delicious and (marginally) healthier version of their deep-fried brethren. Delicious on their own, or with a remoulade sauce for dipping, these rings are the perfect companion to the novel!

Now that sounds just my kind of snack. What’s the recipe?

Air-Fried Onion Rings

Ingredients:

1 large sweet onion, cut into ½-inch rings

½ cup whole wheat flour

1 cup whole grain panko bread crumbs

1 egg

1 Tbsp. water

½ tsp. paprika

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp cayenne pepper

Pinch of salt

1. Get three bowls. Fill the first bowl with a mixture of flour, paprika, cayenne pepper, oregano and pinch of salt. Fill the second bowl with the egg and water beaten together. Fill the third bowl with panko breadcrumbs.

2. Coat the onion rings in flour, dip into the egg mixture. Coat with panko breadcrumbs. You may need to press the panko with your fingers.

3. Spray the bottom of an air fryer basket with non-stick spray. Place the onion rings in a single layer in the bottom of the basket. Spray the onion rings with non-stick spray. For best results, cook the rings in batches.

4. Cook at 375°F for 6 minutes. Flip and cook for another 4 minutes.

You’ve made my mouth water Kevin. Not just for the onion rings either! I love the sound of The Onion Ring Lover’s Guide to Vermont too. Thank you so much for staying in with me to chat about it.

Thanks for having me Linda.

You head to the kitchen Kevin and get cooking and I’ll give blog readers a few more book details:

The Onion Ring Lover’s Guide to Vermont

Many children wish that every day could be Christmas. For one year, Jim Sutton and his family found themselves living that dream. As dreams go, however, it turned out to be more of a nightmare.

The Suttons were not caught up in some kind of “Groundhog Day” scenario. Far from it. While each day was distinct and separate, some days seemed to echo the one before, like a rerun nobody asked to relive. From 1977 through early 1978, the Sutton clan lived as permanent residents in a year-round Christmas attraction named, appropriately enough, Christmas Town.

The chain of events leading to how precisely they came to settle on an island in the middle of Lake Champlain, Vermont is found in two words: Bob Sutton (or as he was more colloquially called: Dad). Bob Sutton pried his brood from their comfortable lives in Boston, Massachusetts to relocate to the Green Mountain State. He bought a snack stand concession in Christmas Town, where he believed they would make their fortunes in a forever Winter Wonderland. None of the Suttons expected that this outwardly idyllic setting would lead to familial betrayal and tragedy.

Twenty-two years later, a grown Jim Sutton ventures out to write his novel. His muse: onion rings. The setting: the state he once swore he would never visit again. In a rusted-out beater of a car, Jim navigates his way through the countryside, sampling onion rings for his book, The Onion Ring Lover’s Guide to Vermont. When an accident strands him in the sleepy town of Strawberry Falls, little does Jim know that another dark family secret hides beneath the surface of this seemingly idyllic little New England town, a secret that some of the town residents would kill for to keep from coming to light.

The Onion Ring Lover’s Guide to Vermont is available for purchase from all the online stores including through the links here.

About Kevin Stone

Kevin lives in Tampa, Florida with his family, two dogs (one very good, one naughty), two guinea pigs, a rabbit, and a menagerie of plush critters who frequently come to life through a child’s dabbling in ventriloquism, imagination, and an assertion that there is no such thing as too many animals under one roof.

Kevin’s family moved around when he grew up. A lot. From Massachusetts to Missouri, they ultimately landed in Vermont. Not having Vermonter roots offered him the unique perspective of the outsider, never fitting in as a native son, always observing from a distance. His childhood experiences inspired him to write The Onion Ring Lover’s Guide to Vermont.

There’s more about The Onion Lovers and Kevin on the website, on Instagram and Facebook and you can follow Kevin on Twitter @onionringlovers.

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