Eating Authors: Kevin Steverson

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Kevin Steverson

Welcome to July! We’ve barely begun the month, but it’s already exploding! Since you were last here, fans, friends, and colleagues all chipped in to contribute to a very unlikely GoFundMe page and in less than twenty-four hours had hit the goal to purchase a replica Neanderthal skull for me for my birthday later this month. Crazy, right? Then, last Thursday, my new collection, The Rule of Three and Other Stories was released, and people have been saying extremely complimentary things about it. And, as if that wasn’t enough, later today I’ll be meeting with my oncology team and among other bits of medical poking and prodding I’ll begin my regimen of vaccinations to replace those old childhood immunities that went away during my bone marrow transplant. All in all, it’s quite a lot, and there’s still most of the month to come!

But enough about me (and my soon-to-arrive Neanderthal skull), let’s talk about this week’s EATING AUTHOR guest, Kevin Steverson. He also just had a book released. The Long And Short Of It, a gathering of five novellas set in his Salvage Title universe, came out last Friday, so his month is also off to a great start (and yes, that was a double-reverse segue there, in case you missed it).

Kevin is probably best known for as a writer of military SF, and a twenty-one year career in the army that’s understandable. But he also writes fantasy. And songs. In fact, when not writing he’s often as not on the road as the Tour Manager for the band Cypress Spring. Somewhere between his military service, his writing, and his musical escapades he’s found the time to have six children (I’m sure his wife helped), and they seem to have learned the trick of it because Kevin reports he’s now up to ten grandchildren. I’m tired just thinking about it.

LMS: Welcome, Kevin. What’s your most memorable meal?

KS: My most memorable meal? A great question. Let me start by saying, I am a simple man from the panhandle of Florida. Lower Alabama, if you will. I grew up near the beach, but inland about an hour. Give or take a few minutes.

Prior to that, my father retired from the Army. We lived all over the world but the food cooked in our home was always decidedly southern fare. After my own twenty one year career in the Army, we now live in northeast Georgia and southern cooking still holds sway.

Salvage Title

My wife is an incredible cook. Now, I’m not saying this because it is best if I do…or else. Those of you with a better half know what I mean. She truly is. Besides my career as an author, I manage a nationally signed music act, Cypress Spring. The guys are forever trying to plan ways to stop here while on the road for a meal or two. My wife and I once made a six hour drive with her red velvet cupcakes for one of their wedding receptions.

Sorry. Bright light. Squirrel with a flashlight! Quick, chase it! I went off on a tangent to say this: I am not one to go to fancy restaurants or eat meals with small medallions of meat and three squeaky green beans crossed over each other with a red swirl of color on a plate. I’m not knocking those type of meals, I’m sure the bite or two involved tastes great, but they are just not for me.

My most memorable meal was so long ago, it seems like a lifetime. In 1989, I was traveling from Missouri to the Florida panhandle. I had spent a year in South Korea, eating in army chow halls or local food in the village outside our base while on a weekend pass. I still love Korean food, to this day.

Hide the Lightning

A year. A whole year without real southern food. I flew in from Korea to Missouri to visit my two oldest children living there with their mother. I stayed in a hotel and ate fast food, something else I hadn’t had much of. Anyway, after a few days I headed southeast, towards home.

Traveling through Arkansas, in a small town, I saw a sign outside of a restaurant advertising chicken-fried steak. The restaurant was an old wooden building, kind of what you see in the modern restaurants trying to appear southern, only they didn’t try to deliberately gain that particular look. It was authentic. An old building with worn grey boards overlapped, a stone chimney, and a tin roof. I had been driving for hours, so I hit the brakes like a deer just darted across in front of me.

When I walked in the door of the place, the aroma coming from the kitchen was enough to make a man cry, remembering meals at grandma’s house. I could make out the scents of cornbread, fried chicken, and the sweet smell of fresh baked pies.

Burnt

The sign made me stop, so I ordered the chicken-fried steak. To this day, I have never had it so tender. It was covered in a white sawmill gravy. The green beans on the side were perfectly flavored with pieces of fatback. Not bacon…fatback. The cornbread was amazing with a perfect crispness on top smothered in butter. Washing it all down was nectar from God himself. Real. Southern. Sweet.Tea.

Unable to decide, I had a piece of apple pie and pecan pie for dessert. Back then, as an infantryman, I ran a six minute mile pace in the mornings and didn’t give a flip about calories. Not so much, these days.

The conversation with the owners and their daughter, the waitress, was great. It didn’t revolve around what I did for a living. We talked hunting and fishing, comparing Arkansas to my neck of the woods. Their daughter was an avid huntress. I left her a twenty dollar bill as a tip. Twenty dollars n 1989. Ah well, a soldier and his money is soon parted.

These days, between traveling to conventions or the weekends when I go out with the band, I suppose I could trace the route I took home that early December and possibly find the town but hesitate to try. I would be disappointed if I found the restaurant no longer there. Some things are better left as memories.

Thanks, Kevin. I doubt the restaurant is still there. Not because it failed or burned down or was crushed by a wandering Daikaiju. No, it was gone the day after you visited. We’ve seen a lot of restaurants like that here at EATING AUTHORS. It’s part of the magic.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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