Featured Blogger: Ed Protzel
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This week’s featured writer said something in his interview that stuck with me, because I feel exactly the same way: “my interests are too varied to pigeonhole.” He also says that multi-niche writing is beneficial to both the writer as well as the reader, and I couldn’t agree more.
Ed Protzel has written screen plays and novels, and he stretches the limits of genre in his work. Read on to learn more about one of our fellow MultiTalented Writers.
1. What is your name and where are you located?
My name is Ed Protzel and I live in St. Louis, Missouri, home of the baseball Cardinals, Gateway Arch, toasted ravioli—as well as some of the world’s most renown authors: Tennessee Williams, T.S. Elliott, Maya Angelou, Kate Chopin, Jonathan Franzen, Mark Twain, and many more.
I’ve also lived parts of my life in Los Angeles, screenwriting and working for 20th Century Fox, and in Hawaii where I finished my undergraduate degree—that was pretty nice 🙂
But I’m loyal to STL for all the reasons I mentioned. And family, of course. My only complaint is the weather—freezing winters and stifling, humid summers. Otherwise, it’s home.
If you’re still curious about me, find my full bio on my website (“Screenwriter to Novelist: Ed Protzel’s Bumpy Road to Publication”).
2. Please tell us about you blog!
Like Holly Golightly’s cat named Cat in Truman Capote’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” my blog simply called Blog. That’s because I don’t write a traditional blog or consider myself a real blogger. I’m more of a sporadic or moody blogger, basically blogging when I get inspired or fired up about an idea. Plus, I don’t have the time to dedicate to it right now.
If I did have the time, I’d likely dedicate my blog to either history, politics or a combination of the two. Both are subjects I care deeply about and could write about endlessly. I’d also invite other bloggers to chime in. Maybe one day…
So right now, I basically use my blog to generate interest and make announcements about my writing or related news. Here are a few examples:
I decided to post this following the release of my historical novel, The Lies That Bind (DarkHorse Trilogy, Book 1), and my first public reading. The book is set in 1859-61 Mississippi and centers on an abolitionist drifter (Durksen Hurst) who partners with a group of fugitive slaves to build their own egalitarian plantation—rocking the antebellum South’s boat as you can imagine.
The Story Behind The Lies That Bind
Interestingly, I wrote The Lies That Bind originally as a screenplay, which did garner an option and high praise from a Hollywood producer. But my agent and I gave up that dream of fame and fortune.
But I never gave up on the strength of the story and its significance. So after several more years, I dusted it off and began to flush out the plot and the characters more fully as a novel. That exercise quickly took on a life of its own, building into a trilogy that expanded the characters’ journey far beyond the days of slavery and up to emancipation, where they could envision a future with real freedom and full rights of citizenship for blacks.
But returning to my blogging history…
That first event I mentioned was held at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where I was teaching adjunct at the time. I was so touched by the school’s support of my writing, especially the English department which surprised me with a cake. So, for me, it was as much a celebration as a reading!
During that reading, I touched on the historical and literary themes within the novel, and how I purposely weaved educational value into the storytelling. That prompted an invite by a faculty member to speak at one of her classes. A fun chance for me to educate and enlighten.
I thought it fitting to blog about Honor Among Outcasts, DarkHorse Trilogy, Book 2, and its release during Black History Month last February. The story continues the journey of Durksen Hurst and his DarkHorse partners who flee Mississippi at the start of the Civil War to fight for the Union in Missouri, forming a colored regiment.
Another blog was inspired by a visit to Lincoln University, a historically black college in Jefferson City, Missouri, and its Soldiers’ Memorial Plaza. The memorial pays tribute to the veterans of the 62nd and 65th U.S. colored infantry regiments who founded the school in 1866 to educate blacks after the Civil War. Since I feature a fictional colored Union regiment in Honor Among Outcasts, I wanted to pay homage to these brave men.
In conjunction with National Women’s History Month in March, I decided to spotlight the pivotal female characters in my DarkHorse Trilogy: Antoinette DuVallier and the widow Marie Brussard French. All of these women had a lot to contend with, both within their personal storylines and within the context of the social norms of the times.
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3. Why do you choose to write in multiple niches?
I never wanted to restrict myself creatively by writing in a single genre. It may be smart to do so in terms of branding yourself, but as a writer I have too much to say. Besides, some genres serve a particular story or theme better than others.
For example, on the serious topic of slavery and discrimination, historical fiction seemed the natural genre to use, as did use of the third-person, omniscient narrator voice. Not to say the same topic couldn’t be treated in different ways, but I thought historical fiction would give it the gravitas it deserved. Plus, it made the most sense to me having studied so much history over the years.
Yet in my newest novel, The Antiquities Dealer, a complex, futuristic mystery/thriller, I used first-person narrative (or what I call first-person reflective) to tell the story of David Greenberg as he becomes drawn into a mysterious conspiracy and a hunt for a missing ancient artifact.
On another hand, I turned to science fiction to explore political strife and the human condition in my screenplay, “Earth Excursions,” where future Earth has become a popular tourist destination for Alien civilizations. I’m in the early stages of turning it into a novel.
Besides, real life is complex, people are multi-faceted, and my interests are too varied to pigeonhole. I consider myself a “genre-stretcher,” meaning that although my books may be classified as specific genres—historical fiction, sci-fi, mystery/thriller—they all contain similar elements. All have complex plots and fully developed characters. All use twists, turns and surprises. All include mysteries or puzzles. And all use history, mythology or philosophy, science and/or religion to some degree to inform, enlighten or stimulate discussion. Plus, most include my personal passions: chess, sports, music, etc.
To see want I mean, go to Amazon and take a look at the preview chapters.
4. Do you blog on your own platform, for companies, for publications, or for a mixture of these?
I blog through my website. As I said, I don’t consider myself a dedicated or “serious” blogger at all. I have to carve out the time—and that’s gotten more and more difficult. I have guest blogged and I enjoy those opportunities. Each blog has a different perspective or purpose, which allows me to stretch myself, to think outside my comfort zone. That can be a lot of fun.
5. Where have you been published? Feel free to link to your author page and/or your favourite published article.
I’ve been featured and interviewed on several blogs, in magazines and newspapers, in reviews, as well as award competitions. My publisher (TouchPoint Press) offers my novels through many platforms, but the main sources, by far, are Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Here are links for each book:
The Lies That Bind (DarkHorse Trilogy, Book 1)
Amazon – paperback and Kindle
B&N – paperback
Honor Among Outcasts (DarkHorse Trilogy, Book 2)
Amazon – paperback and Kindle
Barnes and Noble – Nook
The Antiquities Dealer (A David Greenberg Mystery)
Amazon – paperback & Kindle
Barnes and Noble – Nook
And watch for Something in Madness (DarkHorse Trilogy, Book 3) coming soon!
6. Why do you believe multi-niche writing is beneficial?
I think it benefits the author and the reader. I’ve talked about why multi-niche writing is right for me. But I’ve also found it’s a way to reach different readerships. And when you hook someone on your writing in one genre, they might just try out another, which broadens their tastes in reading, taking them to places they might never have otherwise gone.
7. Is there anything you would like to add?
Yes. That, to me, writing a tale is a bit like a chess game you play with (and against) the reader. And making the reader anticipate what’s coming—and being surprised when it does—is part of the fun for us both.
Overall, I try to give the reader the most complete experience possible. Of course, I want my novels to be entertaining from beginning to the last page. But I think a deeper theme—not a political or social diatribe—adds a great deal of emotion, too, to make a book more fulfilling. To do both, I believe I must break out of genre guidelines.
As for my future plans: I’ve been considering my options on how, when and where to get David Greenberg, the protagonist from The Antiquities Dealer, into trouble next. With the endless locations and plausible threats to humanity to choose from, it’s enough to make a fiction writer’s head swim! What I know is that the idea will strike me when I’m least expecting it. I’ll probably have a vivid dream and wake with an “a-ha” moment, rushing to write it down before the dream fades, as I trip over my shoes!