Featured today is C.C. Edge (aka Carol Edge, HeartlandLiberal’s wife) Let’s give her a warm welcome.
I haven’t read her book, Blood Terminal, which was just released on Amazon, but the description made me think of one of my favorite books – Animal Dreams – because if you asked me what Animal Dreams was about I could describe it in five different ways, and all of them would be true.
I understand that HeartlandLiberal designed the book cover, so he gets a shoutout, too!
Blood Terminal: Murder in the Magic City
by Carol Edge
Animals and social justice, beloved by the jackals of Balloon Juice: heady company in which to talk about my new mystery novel. My book is a novel and it’s a mystery, but it’s mostly about social injustice, and there are no animals anywhere. Unless someone sneaked one on the train.
Blood Terminal takes place when Jim Crow, Prohibition, and the Great Depression ruled the lives of everyday people. For those who could afford it, the 1930s were a glorious time for passenger trains. My novel brings together the ordinary people who serve on trains and those who ride them.
The train is the Hummingbird Express; the ordinary people a railroad bull, a Pullman porter, and a maid; the less ordinary are the family the maid works for, the railroad officialdom, and the Birmingham police force. As disparate as these social elements are, it’s all about race. Even when sexism and classism appear, it still about racism. But it’s also about murder and finding the right murderer.
What can I tell you other than what the story’s about? After all, it’s a mystery. I can’t tell you whodunit or how the solution unfolds, right? For the sake of that universal arc, I will say that there is some social justice in the end. But, remember the setting, all sorrows aren’t tied up in ribbon. Our society is still waiting for that solution.
Birmingham, Alabama, has been called ground zero for the civil rights movement of that period. Deservedly so. It’s also my hometown and thus first choice as a setting for Blood Terminal. There’s not a single character, place, or event in the book that I haven’t witnessed or had some connection to, through time and space, first-, second-, or third-hand. I’m not Black, cannot speak for any Black person’s experience, but I can speak to what I’ve observed and learned. My intention was never to disrespect Birmingham or its police force, but rather to illustrate how some aspects of Jim Crow culture played out in that very typical setting.
I also wanted to show a friendship that crossed the barbed racial wires fencing people apart from each other. There must have been a number of such instances of Black/White human interaction, but those don’t make the history books so often. My father was in part a model for the character of Earl; some of their life experiences run parallel, including having a close Black friend in the early and middle twentieth century. My father “stood up for Bessemer at his wedding” and was a pall bearer at his funeral.
My mother and the mothers of friends paid a pittance to Black women to clean and cook in their homes. Emma reflected the duality those women had to live day after day. But her spirit comes from one particular woman who worked for my mother. Mattie, I believe, saw me as a real person, not just a White kid, and I think I saw her.
The Pullman porters are true American originals. Their history, way of life, accomplishments are legendary and in great part generally unknown. The character of T.J. is a composite, mostly extrapolated from the biographies and true stories of Pullman porters recorded by social historians.
The history of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters is as fascinating as any in this nation’s amazing panoply of origin stories. I wholly agree with those who say that today’s Black middle class was founded on porters and postal workers. Domestic workers certainly played an active role in that as well. That is, in fact, what Blood Terminal is about: the struggle of a family wanting security and respect while living a gentle and righteous life. Murder is a metaphor for the killer struggles African Americans have endured here.
Yet it’s anything but an academic novel. Blood Terminal is a murder mystery. I hope readers enjoy it as such. I also hope that the themes, characters, and setting will resonate for them as they do for me.
If you read the book, please leave a review or comment somewhere. Additional information can be found on my website.
Especially during these hard times, it’s important to celebrate when we can, and to find joy where we can. It’s how we find the strength for the fights ahead.
Thanks, C.C. for sharing your joy with us today.