Posts filed under: Southern Fiction

Friday Blues Fix Interview with Author Ed Baldwin

 

Friday Blues Fix posted an interview with Ed Baldwin, author of the newly released novel Sliding Delta, on Friday August 12.  This weekly in depth look at the world of blues music, musicians, and events originates from Oxford, Mississippi and is a useful tool for anyone who enjoys or is curious about this most basic of American music forms.  What’s new?  Who is?  Who was?

Praising Sliding Delta as the best book he’s read this year, editor Graham Clarke says blues fans will be hooked by the engaging story and characters.  His Ten Questions include why Baldwin chose Mississippi John Hurt as the centerpiece for the story and did Baldwin witness any of the racial tensions described in the story.

Go to Friday Blues Fix for the whole interview and some nifty links to music mentioned in Sliding Delta.

Fridaybluesfix

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Blues Bytes Magazine to review Sliding Delta in August

Blues Bytes Magazine is an online source for everything about blues music; especially new music by current blues artists, performances, clubs, and memorabilia.  Graham Clarke, who writes most of the music reviews has just completed a review of my new novel Sliding Delta for the August edition, due out in less than a month.  Here is an excerpt:

“…readers will almost feel the intense humidity of a Mississippi summer, smell fish frying, and take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the juke joints where the blues is being played.”

There is much more to the review and much, much more in Blues Bytes Magazine.

 

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Free Books! Get Your Copy of BOOKMAN Today!

For the next two days Bookman will be available for download on Amazon for free, nada, zip.  This promotion is offered to direct attention to my first novel, published 25 years ago, because I’m returning to my Southern fiction roots with Sliding Delta.  This is my best work and scheduled for release June 1st.  If you like Memphis in 1965, Delta blues music, the Civil Rights struggle, Beale Street, Mississippi, and Arkansas, then you need to have a look at the promo for Sliding Delta.  Or, just click on the Bookman link on my writings page.

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SLIDING DELTA: Fiction Compared to John Irving’s Best!

Initial reviews of bestselling author Ed Baldwin’s new book SLIDING DELTA are favorable.

“This is a piece of fiction reminiscent of some of John Irving’s most memorable work. The characters are finely drawn, the descriptions of place and time — the racially charged Sixties in the Deep South — are spot on, and the vulnerable experiences of a young man still searching for his life’s direction will ensure that you read until the last word.”– PUBLISHER’S DAILY REVIEWS

Delta blues music, social turmoil, and a love story; who could want more in a steamy Southern tale?  Look for it in June.

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Sliding Delta: The Adventure Of Delta Blues Music

SLIDING DELTA is a quest to find legendary musician “Mississippi” John Hurt and learn to pick the Delta blues that takes a Chicago college boy south of Memphis in the summer of 1965.  The manuscript is edited and in formatting.  Here is the cover.  Steve Meosky, the cover artist who did all the Boyd Chailland adventure novels, created the cover from a Joe Alper photo of John Hurt taken in 1964.  Galley proofs will be available in a few weeks.  Those interested in reviewing send me an email.

“Delta blues taste like sweat and cheap whiskey, smell like jail, and sound best in a concrete block club with no windows, set back along the river where there’s no law after dark.”

 

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Mingo River

That’s the Mingo River behind me.  It’s part of the Mingo National Wildlife Refuge in Stoddard County in the Bootheel of Southeast Missouri.  Geologists tell us that 25,000 years ago this muddy slough was the main channel of the Mississippi River!  It’s named after a group of Iroquois speaking Seneca and Cayuga Indians that moved into the area in the 1830’s on their way from Ohio to Oklahoma. The Mingo would be a lot larger today if the water inflow into it were not blocked by the Castor River Diversion Channel, beginning about ten miles north of this spot and diverting runoff from the Ozark Mountains into the Mississippi River fifty miles to the east.  That’s part of the Little River Drainage District, the largest drainage project in the United States, and it drains 500 square miles of what was impenetrable swamp but is now the best farm land in the world.  That story, beginning with those Indians is the subject of my next book.  In my last post I showed what some of that land looks like today.  I was going to call the book  Bootheel, but I think Mingo River sounds better.

If any of my Bootheel friends have old family tales that have been passed down from their ancestors about the draining of the swamp, give me a call or send me an email.  This will be historical fiction, so names would be changed.  Shamelessly using other people’s stories is what we authors do.  We call it research.

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Cotton harvest and the new book

I was back in Southeast Missouri last week researching my next novel, and it starts right here in this cotton field south of Kennett.  A giant six row cotton picker falls into a hole and the farmer discovers a century-old storm shelter lined with 1×12 cypress planks, and a mystery involving his family going back to before the Civil War.  Bootheel will be a multigenerational saga about the Little River Drainage District and the largest swamp drainage project in America; a bodice ripping romance of hot blood, money, power, jealousy and adventure.  A tale of finance, vision, politics, greed, and the transformation of uninhabitable swamps into the world’s best farm land and its utilization by industrial agriculture on a grand scale.  It will take a year or more to write.  In the meantime, look for Sliding Delta, a novel about the Delta blues I’m currently shopping to agents.

 

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Mississippi John Hurt: A Book Review

Published as part of the American Made Music series by the University Press of Mississippi, Mississippi John Hurt is a well written biography of  legendary blues musician John Hurt by Philip R. Ratcliffe.  Tracing Hurt’s family back to slavery days, Ratcliffe gives us the background which must be a part of any study of blues music.  It also gives us a view of music in the middle of the last century.  The music industry today is based on music copyrights establishing  authorship so that royalties can be paid.  But, Hurt and the other musicians first recorded in the 1920’s bent familiar melodies and changed words to fit their own styles and moods.  For example, Hurt’s recording of the familiar song “Frankie and Johnny,” is about Frankie and Albert.

John Hurt was a small, quiet, unassuming man from Avalon, Mississippi, which is just at the edge of the Mississippi delta.  He was discovered in 1926 and made several records in Memphis and New York before the depression claimed all the recording companies.  He went back to farming and was re-discovered in 1963 during the folk music revival.  He went on tour at age 70 and died in 1966.

John Hurt played the guitar by running a constant bass beat on the top three strings with his thumb, index, and middle fingers while playing a melody on the bottom three strings with his ring and little finger, sometimes plucking the frets above with his left hand.  It’s light and airy with none of the harsh, string stretching improvisation that came with electric guitars in the 1950’s.  His music would be categorized as Old Blues, i.e., part folk music, part blues, part African rhythm and style.  He sounds more like Jimmie Rogers, the father of Country Music also recorded in 1926, than Muddy Waters or John Lee Hooker.

Ratcliffe has given us a window into the society of Mississippi during the Jim Crow years, and it’s nuanced.  The Ku Klux Klan was an ever present threat to blacks who violated the strict segregation rules of the time, yet Hurt’s family and friends describe a friendly rural area where the races lived together and cooperated in farming and logging.  Their social lives revolved around their churches, segregated by race, and the local store, where the races mixed.  Black and white people enjoyed John Hurt’s singing and playing.

I bought this book as research for my next book, Sliding Delta.  A quest to find Mississippi John Hurt and learn to pick the Delta Blues takes a Chicago college boy south of Memphis in the summer of 1965.  It’s a coming of age historical novel about the delta, the blues, and The South.

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That Bookstore in Blytheville Hosts Ed Baldwin

Squeezed between Amazon and Walmart, mistreated by distributers, and taken for granted by the big multinational publishers, there remain some real independent bookstores where patrons can browse, ask a knowledgeable proprietor about recent releases, sit in a comfortable chair and read part of a book before making a decision to buy.  Such a place is That Bookstore in Blytheville.  An unlikely place, Blytheville, Arkansas.  It’s a small town in the Mississippi delta 65 miles north of Memphis, but there is one of the best bookstores in America there.

Started by MaryGay Shipley in 1977 That Bookstore in Blytheville helped launch the career of such luminaries as John Grisham, and Ed Baldwin.  John is from Jonesboro, AR, and I’m from Kennett, MO, just over the state line from Blytheville.  I signed copies of my first book, Bookman at That Bookstore in Blytheville in 1990.  Grisham has had a bit more success than I, but we both started there.

That Bookstore in Blytheville is owned by Chris Crawley now, and the tradition of service continues.  I’ll be signing copies of my latest book, The Mingrelian there on Saturday, June 28th in the afternoon.  Come on by.

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New Book Release 2013! See cover art for The Devil on Chardonnay

DOC_Kindle_LayoutNew Book Release 2013!  The cover art for The Devil on Chardonnay is just in today.  Cover artist Steve Meosky has been working for months on this picture.  The 120 foot wooden sailing yacht Chardonnay is approaching the spent volcano Pico in the Azores.  This unique ship, more than a century old and seen in this exotic locale, promises the reader an adventure.  We’re building a brand here, and the cover matches the style of The Other Pilot, the first adventure in the Capt. Boyd Chailland series.

In The Other Pilot Capt. Boyd Chailland is plucked from his life as a journeyman fighter pilot to serve on an Accident Investigation Board, and is caught up in an action packed thriller that features old and new aircraft, flying, fighting, investigation, and lots of flawed, interesting characters.  Just as he’s recovering he’s hurriedly called back to a black ops, off the books mission in The Devil on Chardonnay.  

This New Book Release 2013 announcement previews the next Boyd  Chailland adventure, with a publication date of June 15th.

A secret vaccine?  The chance to “spread a little sickness” attracts criminals and revolutionaries; but they’re the small players.  Something worse broke out of the Congo basin, and Strategic Command’s Capt. Boyd Chailland’s fight to get ahead of the trail of death leads to Chardonnay,  sailing yacht of the notorious European merchant banker Michelle Meilland as they cross the Atlantic in hurricane season.  A kaleidoscope of characters arise to test Boyd’s wits and stamina as he chases this constantly evolving threat from the Indian Ocean to  America, and finally to a breathtaking action climax in the Azores.

New Book Release 2013 June 15 publication date for The Devil on Chardonnay, watch for it!

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