The Serpent King Blog Tour: A Day in Jeff Zentner’s Nashville

The Serpent King Blog Tour: A Day in Jeff Zentner's Nashville

Jeff Zentner Author Photo B&WJeff Zentner, author of The Serpent King, has been kind enough to invite us on a tour of Nashville, his home and the place where his novel takes place in part. Are you guys excited? I hope so because this guy has a big day planned.


Okay. You have a day in Nashville. There’s a lot of stuff we need to do, so we’d better get going.

Before we start, you should know that this is a magical trip, where you like all of the exact things I like.

We’re going to get in my 1996 Toyota Tacoma with 225,000 miles–my prized material possession, nicknamed “The Rooster”–and we’re going to drive the ten minutes from my house to Percy Warner Park. This is a gorgeous park covering hundreds of acres with forest, streams, and trails. We’ll go on a gentle seven-mile trail run through Percy Warner, scaring deer, watching turkeys strut around meadows. Maybe we’ll see an owl getting ready to go to sleep.

Nashville park

We’ve worked up an appetite, so it’s time for breakfast. Where are we going you may ask? Some hip local place where you can get…creme brulee french toast or something? Nope. We’re going to Cracker Barrel because it’s my favorite place ever for breakfast. Their headquarters is 45 minutes east of Nashville, so. All of the great local places, like Loveless Cafe and Pancake Pantry have insane lines and we have a busy day. Plus, do you want to eat breakfast with a bunch of tourists from Indiana or do you want to eat among a bunch of real Tennesseans? That’s what I thought.

cracker barrel

Once we’re done with breakfast, we’re going to pop over to McKay’s Books. This is a used bookstore that you could turn a Boeing 747 in. Everything is cheap but they have a bargain section where you can get excellent books–no lie–for $.15. And the selection? A friend of mine recently recommended an obscure Russian novel. I went out and found it the next day at McKay’s for $2.


After McKay’s it’s lunchtime (yes, I’m serious. You lose track of time in McKay’s). We’re going to Hattie B’s hot chicken. Hot chicken is a Nashville specialty. Pretty much it’s just fried chicken dipped in the hottest hot sauce you can even imagine and served with pickles, white bread, and coleslaw.

fried chicken

After lunch, we’re going to go get some dessert at Donut Den. Their cronuts are pretty amazing. Then, right around the corner is Nashville’s finest independent bookstore, Parnassus Books, owned by the author Ann Patchett. We’ll stop in and find some great books recommended by my friends Stephanie and Rae Ann. Hope you brought an extra suitcase.

parnassus books

Once we’re done at Parnassus, we’re heading over to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Yeah, yeah, I know, you don’t like country music. Or maybe you do. Or maybe you only like some. How about this: do you like interesting and cool stuff? Then you’re gonna like the Country Music Hall of Fame because it’s filled top to bottom with interesting and cool stuff. I wouldn’t lead you astray.

nashville music museum

When we’re done with Nashville’s musical history, we’re going to pop over to Third Man Records, owned by Jack White, to see Nashville’s musical present. Jack might even be there.

third man records

Okay, we gotta keep moving. We’re going to head down to Franklin, a small town a half hour south of Nashville. It has a gorgeous downtown. We’re going to stroll it. We’re going to stroll it so hard.


While we’re there, we’re going to pop into Landmark Books. This is another one of my favorite bookstores on Earth.

landmark books

Okay, now you’re finally getting hungry again, right? Right? Great. We’re gonna head over to Lieper’s Fork, an even smaller town, near Franklin. We’re going to go to one of my favorite restaurants, Puckett’s. I hope they still have some ribs left. And maybe some famous people will be playing guitar on the benches out front while they wait for their food. Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen that. On the way, you’re going to see some of the most beautiful, lush, horse pastures you’ve ever seen. This is one of my favorite drives on Earth.

lieper's fork

puckett's grocery

Ok, now that we’re full again on fried catfish, pulled pork, mac and cheese (I like to mix up the pulled pork and mac and cheese), and chess pie, it’s time to hit the road again, back to Franklin. We should be just in time to catch Music City Roots at The Factory in Franklin. Music City Roots is a live radio show, complete with actors reading ads. It’s like the Grand Ole Opry, but hipper.

music city roots

We’ve had a long day. We’re going to end it by doing one of my favorite things: sitting on my back patio in rocking chairs, by a fire. The country star Vince Gill used to own my house, long before he was rich and famous. And all the neighbors have stories of how Vince would sit out on this patio and play guitar.

zentner's back patio

There you have it! If you still have any energy left before bed, we’ll watch some episodes of Nashville on Hulu. Come back and visit me again!

That all sounds amazing except for that part where he made us go running what the hell is up with that a gentle seven mile run my fat ass. I hope Jeff is prepared to have all of us showing up on his doorstep amirite?

If you want to check out some more Nashville, check out Jeff Zentner’s debut novel, The Serpent King, out now, which has been getting some seriously rave reviews!

The Serpent King - Jeff Zentner

Description: Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

He and his fellow outcast friends must try to make it through their senior year of high school without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Graduation will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is content where he is thanks to his obsession with an epic book series and the fangirl turning his reality into real-life fantasy.

Their diverging paths could mean the end of their friendship. But not before Dill confronts his dark legacy to attempt to find a way into the light of a future worth living.

Purchase: Amazon | B&N | TBD | Audible

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