Guest Author Ashton Lee

Hello, People; Tonette here…
As I promised, today I have another special
guest, my FaceBook friend, author Ashton Lee.
Ashton is already an accomplished writer, but there is quite a bit of buzz about his upcoming release,”The Cherry Cola Book Club”, (Kensington Press, NY)
(But I’ll let him tell you more about it).
I am pleased and honored that Ashton has agreed to share thoughts about his
book and about food, friends and family with us.

So, Friends, I bring you… Ashton Lee!

Hello everyone! Tonette has asked me to comment on the role comfort food and its preparation plays in my forthcoming novel–‘The Cherry Cola Book Club–‘ from Kensington Books. It will be released on April 13th but may be pre-ordered now from your local book store.

First, a bit of background about myself. I’m a Deep Southerner, as I like to say, born and brought up in the historic town of Natchez, Ms. My enormous extended family gave me lots of fodder for my future fiction. You cannot grow up with nineteen first cousins who are like brothers and sisters and not observe generous helpings of human behavior.

One of the happiest memories I have of growing up is of Sunday dinners in the country with my cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, and, of course, my maternal grandfather, who hosted these feasts. The fare was almost always the same: fried chicken, succotash, sliced tomatoes, cornbread, rice and gravy and applesauce pie for dessert. For the adults this was preceded by mint juleps, while we kids drank tea or soda pop.

The feeling of great security and comfort derived from these dinners still sticks with me today. It provides emotional shelter in unstable economic and political times, and I return to those memories often both when I am writing and while simply daydreaming.

My maternal grandmother added a different layer of comfort whenever we all visited her house. She and my grandfather were separated, but never divorced, and the matter was never discussed. Instead, it almost seemed like both of them competed for our affection with lavish displays of comfort cuisine. For my grandmother, that consisted of tomato aspic and baked custard. She always had legions of both in the refrigerator, and her standard statement after hugging and kissing us was: “Now you simply have to eat something. What do you want–aspic or custard?” Even if we’d just eaten elsewhere, we had to accept one or the other with a smile. In truth, either one was a cup of her affection for her family, and it was easy to picture her spending most of the day before a visit, toiling in the kitchen to greet us properly with these staples.

“The Cherry Cola Book Club” is filled with characters who use food in just such a manner, plus more: to reach out to strangers, to set the table, if you will, for stronger existing friendship, to offer a bit of themselves through a shared experience that everyone must indulge.

If you’d like more information on the plot and characters, just go to facebook.com/ashtonlee.net and click on the big ‘Like’ icon. You’ll be kept updated on reviews, book tour dates and other buzz. There is a special recipe section in the back of the book which I know you will enjoy. Everything from frozen fruit salad to chicken spaghetti and that tomato aspic and baked custard. I hope all of you will be reading and comfort cooking when spring gets here.

[Tonette’s back:]Thank you, Aston; it would seem that the premise of ‘The Cherry Cola Book Club” is tailor-made to complement this blog. “Food, Friend and Family” is not just a title; it’s a philosophy. I don’t meant to imply that food is all, but everyone eats and there is not a culture in the world, (past or present), that has not celebrated with foods and used them to comfort and welcome others. Food is a wonderful way for people to connect, to open their hearts; to lead people to share their stories and their cultures. As families fragment and drift apart, we need to try to find the time to pass down heritage, share family stories, and to make new ones to tell later on; family meals, visits and celebrations are probably the best ways.

I am not the only one who has been waiting with fervent anticipation for “The Cherry Cola Book Club”; Ashton and Kensington Press are bracing for great success, (in fact, a sequel is already well on its way!) I hope the book tour goes as planned,( or better) , because it should bring him waaaay up north within a couple of hours of me and I have every intention of driving out to meet him in person, get a book, get an autograph and give him a hug!

I hope you feel free to bring on any questions here that you may have for Ashton.
[Sorry, he can not share any of the recipes that he mentioned because of prepublication and copyright restrictions; we’ll just have wait and get our hands on the book! ]

Who wants to start us off?

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12 thoughts on “Guest Author Ashton Lee

  1. Carla Hostetter

    Ah, so I may presume the book will have recipes. Though I rarely cook anymore, I still read recipes. So many good stories revolve around them. Like my mother-in-law who made a giant tub of pimento cheese while we were visiting and expected us to have it for lunch every single day we were there. I’m not a big fan of pimento cheese though I will eat it. Nor was anyone else in the family. She couldn’t figure out why she was left with so much of the stuff on the day of our departure!

    Reply
    1. Tonette Joyce

      Yes, Ashton has a number of recipes in the back of his book, (and I both read recipes and make them!)
      Pimento Cheese Spread is a Southern favorite,Carla, and the recipes vary greatly. Here, there is a great fascination with it, and I find only some of it edible! When it’s good, it’s good, but every day? Wow.
      I had an aunt who made a huge stew and expected us to eat it nearly every night for dinner, so I can understand your problem, but don’t ask me to understand the the hostesses!
      Thanks for coming by, Carla, as you can see,it isn’t all recipes here,(and I don’t post difficult ones.)

      Reply
  2. jeff7salter

    I don’t cook or bake, but I love tasty treats. The description of those meals with close relatives … brings back memories for me also. Though I had far fewer first cousins (only 8), we all loved getting together in Biloxi & Ocean Springs when we were younger.
    I’ve known this author for nearly 30 years and am very impressed with how many books he’s published and how well they’ve done.

    Reply
    1. Tonette Joyce

      Yes,I met him through you , Jeff and I appreciate the introduction. Don’t you think this work,”The Cherry Cola Book Club” is a perfect match for my little blog here? I am so looking forward to that work and his back catalog.
      Maybe you and I can meet up when Ashton comes to our neck of the woods;won’t that make for a small party?

      Reply
      1. jeff7salter

        Sounds great. But don’t book any fancy halls for this meeting, because I have only (very) casual clothing these days. HA

  3. Hotly Spiced

    I love the sounds of all this Southern food. It’s a cuisine I’m not familiar with but it sounds like great comfort food. The books sounds great – love the title xx

    Reply
    1. Tonette Joyce

      It’s heavy on fried foods and sweet desserts, and plenty of all,Charlie! Southerners love food. My father was from the South and my mother,who was from the North could not get over the vast amounts of food that my father’s mother put out for breakfast alone. My mother was also Italian and a cup of coffee and a pastry of piece of bread is what breakfast meant to her.(Breakfast being the only meal where Italians do not eat their body weight in food, as I once read.)
      Thanks for coming by,Charlie. I hope you have a chance to check out Ashton’s book when it comes out.

      Reply
  4. petit4chocolatier

    Sounds so interesting! Sweet desserts.., I am definitely in! Thank you Tonette for taking the time to have a special guest. That was very nice of you 🙂

    Reply
    1. Tonette Joyce

      Kindness didn’t have much to do with it,Judy! I have had writer-guests before and to have a chance of getting Ashton here, is, well, very prestigious! And “The Cherry Cola Book Club” is a perfect fit with my blog.
      It amazes me how many writers like to cook and many have their own cooking blogs. I think a lot of us just enjoy being creative, as there are a number of photographer – cooks , artist-cooks and needle-crafter-cooks, among other endeavors.
      If you would like to see more writing and writers, and if you get a chance , jump over to my shared writing blog, “Four Foxes, One Hound”
      [http://fourfoxesonehound.wordpress.com/].
      We’re going through a bit of a transitional period, but we have a lot of fun there.
      Thanks you for visiting and your kind words!

      Reply
    1. Tonette Joyce

      I’ve had several, Ashley…and more coming! A lot of writers like to cook.I think cooking is THE most creative outlet! Nothing else touches more senses and I think being creative is what pushes us all onward and upward.
      Thank you for dropping in.

      Reply

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