In May 2015, Knoxville native Kevin Slimp began sharing the story of his fictional hometown, Lennox Valley, each week in hundreds of newspapers across America. “The Good Folks of Lennox Valley” is the story of growing up in Small Town America in 1998.
The story line revolves around three main characters. Raymond Cooper owns the local radio station, which he converted to “talk only” in hopes of inciting enough good folks of Lennox Valley to vote for him in the upcoming mayor’s election. He initially attempts this by creating a furor over the Federal Reserve System, blaming the agency for the rising price of eggs in “The Valley.”
Iris Long is the editor of The Hometown News and knows there is something fishy about Raymond Cooper. She keeps a wary eye on Cooper while he does his best to discredit her by creating false stories about her alledged relationship with the Federal Reserve.
Sarah Hyden-Smith is the third main character in the story. She is the newly appointed pastor at the Methodist Church, and the first female clergyperson in Lennox Valley. Their hopes that their new minister would have a wife who played piano was all but dashed when the Methodists learned their new pastor was a woman.
Distributors released the book two weeks ahead of schedule on May 15. It is currently available on Amazon.com and will be at booksellers everywhere in the U.S. June 1, 2017. The book will be available in other countries June 15. The author will be holding book signings in Tennessee, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota in June.
Is there any truth the character Raymond Cooper was based on Donald Trump?
The storyline with Raymond Cooper was first written seven years ago, although the first story with Raymond wasn’t published until two years ago. Either way, Raymond pre-dates the Trump campaign. There is speculation that the Don based his campaign on the mayoral campaign of Cooper. I couldn’t say if there is any truth to that.
Who designed the cover of the book?
Renowned illustrator Danny Wilson, who makes his home in Knoxville, is a fan of the story and offered to create the cover art. Reviewers are loving the cover already.
Your book is based on a weekly syndicated column you’ve written since 2015. How many newspapers carry The Good Folks of Lennox Valley?
200, give or take, in print. I don’t keep tabs on how many run it in their online versions.
What are the largest and smallest papers that carry your column?
A paper in the D.C. area, Fairfax County Times, has a circulation of 100,000. I believe that’s the biggest. The smallest is in Drayton, North Dakota, with a circulation of 500.
How many folks read The Good Folks of Lennox Valley in newspapers?
Somewhere between one and two million.
Why do no papers in Knoxville carry your story?
You know what they say about a prophet in his/her own home. However, there are more than 20 papers in Tennessee that run the column. The Johnson City Press will be sponsoring one of my first book signings this summer.
Where else are you doing book signings?
I’m scheduling a tour of Minnesota and the Dakotas in June. I’m sure we’ll do several in Tennessee.
When will your book be available for sale?
Officially, June 1. It will probably be available on Amazon a few days before that. They seem to beat everyone to the punch.
Is it true you recently published a book by another local author that made it to the top of Amazon’s “Best Selling New Release” list?
Yes, “Unafraid and Unashamed,” by Will Cantrell. That book is selling like crazy. I hope to publish eight books before the end of 2017 with my new publishing company.
How did you get into the book publishing business?
I was working with literary agents in New York on the Lennox Valley book when I discussed the craziness that surrounds getting a book published with some other authors. At one point, I said, “You know, I could do this.” Now, I am.
More information about the book can be found at LennoxValley.com.