Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Ed: Hi Fiona. My name is Ed Protzel, a self-identified writer of Scintillating Fiction ‑ Touching Hearts, Sparking Imagination. I’m a few decades past the age of consent 🙂
Fiona: Where are you from?
Ed: I’m from St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Still live there. And Midwestern provincial as it is at times, inexplicably I couldn’t live elsewhere else. It’s home.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Ed: I’m mixed Jewish-Cherokee (Native American tribe), so that’s a bit rare. I’m married, and we have two grandkids. I have a master’s in English literature/creative writing from University of Missouri-St. Louis. My undergraduate degree is from the University of Hawai’i-West O‘ahu. But I’ve never let higher education stand in the way of learning anything interesting or insightful.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Ed: I’m very excited about the upcoming release of Honor Among Outcasts, the second novel in my Civil War-era DarkHorse Trilogy. My publisher estimates it will be by October. It’s about a group of friends, men and women, black and white, escaping the antebellum South during the Civil War, who land in the middle of Missouri’s violent guerrilla border war. It’s pretty emotional. This follows Book 1 in the trilogy, The Lies That Bind. Right now, I’m completing the final novel in the trilogy, Something in Madness, which returns to Mississippi during Reconstruction. Whew, that’s three mountains to climb!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Ed: I began, in earnest, writing novels and screenplays for feature film back in 1980. Writing is always something I wanted to do with my life, and professors encouraged me greatly in college. Of course, the difficulties in acquiring food and shelter kept me from writing as much as I’d liked for many years. That’s no longer a problem. Now I write because I’m always bursting with ideas and emotions, and it’s been a good outlet to clean out my head, which is usually overfull.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Ed: I always thought of myself as a writer, but I had to make a living. Frankly, writing is a terrible addiction that has controlled much of my life.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Ed: I wrote The Lies That Bind originally as a screenplay, and there was interest from Hollywood. However, the studio was sold and there were other odd developments—Hollywood’s a crazy place. I didn’t like living in Los Angeles, so I returned to St. Louis to work on novels, and The Lies That Bind seemed a perfect place to start. The story was based on a great concept, with deep themes, a complex plot and characters with ambiguity—I believed they were characters worth following through three novels.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Ed: That was tough. The original film script was called simply “DarkHorse,” which had several meanings within the context of the story. But I needed a title more encompassing. I decided on The Lies That Bind to reflect the world in which the novel takes place (the Old South), a society based on lies—slavery primarily and male dominance. All the characters in the story are living lies/subterfuges to survive. Ironically, it is these very lies that both bind them together and divide them.
It took weeks of rumination to settled on the title. It finally came to me while I was driving my car. Happily, no accident was caused by the epiphany!
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
Ed: My stories are often complicated, with emotionally torn characters, plus deep irony and plot twists. These are the bases of a good screenplay, too, especially the dialogue. In writing the three DarkHorse novels, which are Southern Gothic/historical fiction, I have to be careful not to sound contemporary, even with a single modifier, concept or emotional description. My next novel will be futuristic/science fiction, so that will free me to use modern thoughts and language. I won’t have to write in a straightjacket.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Ed: Although The Lies That Bind is fiction, the themes and characters, with their flaws, strengths and weaknesses, are very real and timeless. The characters are mostly combinations of people I have known, but all of them are partly me, too, some very much so. Being a Jew-Cherokee, I have always felt like an outsider, and my characters all have to deal with being loners, alienated to society. But in one way or another, aren’t we all outsiders?
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Ed: My travel to research my novels is sporadic, hit and miss. I mostly travel for fun, then trap the juicy stuff in my writing net for future use.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Ed: My publisher designs the covers. I offer suggestions, give guidance, but they are the experts. I’m no artist.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Ed: Yes. Even in an imperfect world, tainted with injustice, falsehoods cannot forever stand against the audacious will of the human spirit.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Ed: William Faulkner will always be my favorite writer. You labor to get through his novels, but in the end, you are satisfied, it’s cathartic big time. And I love Michael Chabon for fiction. I read a lot of history and especially love Barbara Tuchman.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Ed: Besides my wife, one special English professor, Dick Friedrich, mentored me and encouraged my novel writing. He remains a lifelong friend, critic and cheerleader.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Ed: Yes, I always wanted to write. To me, it’s not working: it’s like being a baseball player for a living without chance of injury, other than the blood on the forehead when you’re stuck on a plot point.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Ed: Always, but you have to let the child go off into the world and onto the next challenge. Some writers never stop writing the same piece. I always have new worlds to conquer, new stories to tell, so I kiss the beautiful child goodbye and free myself. Less easy with flesh and blood children, though.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Ed: I learned more about Civil War Missouri’s savage guerrilla war, which was like 19th century Syria.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Ed: Easy. Brad Pitt, my lookalike (well, in wildly imaginary fiction, anyway).
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Ed: Constantly question and find ambiguity. Increase conflict in every scene, both between characters and inside each major character.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Ed: Yes, regardless of talk of deep themes, my books are written to be fun and emotional thrill rides, with constant surprise, not textbooks.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Ed: I’m pleasantly chopping through Dostoevsky’s The Idiot because it was on the sale table at a bookstore on a recent trip to New York. Also Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for fun, and a stack of books researching Reconstruction for Something in Madness.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Ed: No. I started reading early, whatever came to hand. I also failed to write book reports throughout my school life, even though I’d read the books.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Ed: I laugh at humankind’s foibles, which also can make me cry. Life, like in my novels, is ambiguous and ironic. Just pick up a newspaper.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Ed: I’d like to meet Bob Dylan because of his far-ranging interests and creativity, Barak Obama because of his wisdom, and Bill Clinton because I always felt a kindred spirit toward him (we were born one day apart). Meeting Churchill and Einstein would be thrilling.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Ed: I love watching/attending professional baseball and hockey in St. Louis, and I go to a wide variety of plays and films. Reading, of course, and travel. Writing is both my vocation and my avocation—the only hobby I’ll ever need, as long as my brain has energy.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Ed: My favorite films are David Lean’s classics like “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Doctor Zhivago.” Films based on Tennessee Williams plays are wonderful (“Streetcar Named Desire” with Marlon Brando). I love Ingmar Bergman (“The Seventh Seal” is great) and Fellini, plus many of the old greats, including things like “Zorba the Greek” and English films like “Billy Liar” and “Morgan.” Also, any film by the Coen brothers. For TV, I love “The Americans,” about a family of Soviet spies in America, and the classics on TCM. I have eclectic tastes. I also admit to being a news junkie.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Ed: I like music with great lyrics, which means Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan and Canadian genius Leonard Cohen. None better than, or even touching, these two giants. My eating tastes are fairly pedestrian, pizza my go-to fav.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Ed: I’d travel more and attend more sporting events. I’d say I’d go into politics, but my temperament—and my wife—wouldn’t allow it.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Ed: I’ll probably get just name and dates, which is fine. I’d really like a quote from Bob Dylan’s song Desolation Row: “Einstein disguised as Robin Hood,” but I am utterly certain my survivors would never approve!
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Ed: Absolutely. Readers can find my website at http://www.edprotzel.com.
Here they can subscribe to my email list to get my blog posts and announcements. They’ll also receive a copy of “The Scoop,” with insights into the characters in my DarkHorse Trilogy.
They can also connect with me online on:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/edprotzelauthor/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/EProtzel
- Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ed-Protzel/e/B01944PWT6 – where you can preview the book (print and/or Kindle).