The Logan Museum Honors Pond and De Prorok

What a blast we had on November 9. The Logan Museum at Beloit College invited me to speak to the Three Rivers Archaeological Society  about Byron de Prorok. This was part of their exhibit for the 90th Anniversary of the Franco-Saharan Expedition: Blue Veils, Black Mountains: Alonzo Pond’s 1925 Expedition to Southern Algeria.

Michael Tarabulski and I tour the Logan's exhibit based on his years of research. Great finally meeting him in person!
Michael Tarabulski and I tour the Logan’s exhibit based on his years of research. Great finally meeting him in person!

First, I got to meet Michael Tarabulski, whose research on Byron de Prorok is the cause of all my troubles, and The Count of the Sahara couldn’t have happened without him.

Part of the exhibit. The character of Belaid's wife, Tadefi, was based on the painting in the upper right.
Part of the exhibit. The character of Belaid’s wife, Tadefi, was based on the painting in the upper right.

Then we toured the exhibit… seeing photographs, film and artifacts from the original site, and reliving moments of the book. The story really came alive.

Part of the terrific exhibit at the Logan Museum.
Part of the terrific exhibit at the Logan Museum.

Finally we spoke at the Three Rivers Archaeological Society, a mix of academics, hobbyists and students. What a blast.

Had a blast speaking to the group about Byron de Prorok and how he'd make a great Kardashian.
Had a blast speaking to the group about Byron de Prorok and how he’d make a great Kardashian.

Thanks to all. Of course, if you know any group interested in Midwest history or archaeology, I’m available to speak! Drop me a line on the Contact Page


Press Release for November 9 Presentation at the Logan Museum

I am well and truly stoked to be speaking at the Logan Museum/ Beloit College on Monday, November 9. Below is a copy of the press release for the event.

For Immediate Release

Novelist Wayne Turmel to discuss “Count” Byron de Prorok on Nov. 9

The dubious character accompanied Logan Museum explorers on a famous expedition in the 1920s 

Media Contact: Jason Hughes, or (608) 363-2137

Of all the archaeological expeditions in the Logan Museum of Anthropology’s history, none remains so tangible in public and institutional memory than Alonzo Pond’s journey across the Sahara desert in 1925. “Blue Veils, Black Mountains,” the Logan’s latest exhibition takes a full accounting of the Pond trip.

The items Pond brought home from that expedition formed the backbone of the Logan Museum’s collection. “The materials brought back by the Pond expedition created the first large, purposefully and intentionally assembled ethnographic collection brought to the museum,” says Curator of Exhibits and Education Dan Bartlett. Additionally, “Pond’s trip was covered by newspapers across the country,” Bartlett says, “For the greater Beloit community, the expedition elevated Beloit’s reputation as a center of scholarship.”

But like any good expedition, it was not pursued by Pond alone. On Monday, Nov. 9, the Logan Museum will welcome a pair of guests to shed some light on perhaps the most famous member of the expedition, “Count” Byron de Prorok. The event will be held in the Godfrey Anthropology Building, Room 102.

At 7 p.m., Michael Tarabulski, a Beloit alumnus and an archivist with the National Archives, will screen his brief film “A Distinctly Dubious Character: Byron de Prorok and the Tomb of Tin Hinan.”

Immediately following the screening, author Wayne Turmel will discuss his new work of historic fiction, The Count of the Sahara. The novel, told from the point of view of Byron de Prorok’s assistant, follows de Prorok on the cross-country promotional tour he undertook during the year following the Pond expedition as well as a number of flashbacks to the expedition. As readers will note, there is a bit of discrepancy between Prorok’s recollection of events and how things unfolded during the Pond expedition. Turmel’s e-book was one of the most downloaded ebooks on Amazon worldwide the week it debuted.

“Prorok was really one of modern media’s first celebrities,” Turmel says. “He really crafted an image of a swashbuckling adventurer for himself,” Turmel adds. “He was a perfect storm of charisma and accessible fame. He traveled to parts of the country that had never seen film footage of these far-flung expedition destinations before.”

Prorok “drove the archaeological purists crazy,” Turmel notes “because Prorok declared some of his discoveries the greatest since King Tut’s tomb.

Tarabulski and Turmel’s presentations will tell the story of the rise and fall of Byron de Prorok. Following the presentation, the Logan Museum will be open at 6:30 p.m. so attendees have an opportunity to visit the exhibit both before and after the presentations. The Logan Museum is located at the corner of College and Bushnell Streets on the campus of Beloit College.

Finding the Right Voice for Historical Characters

When I was writing The Count of the Sahara, the hard part was taking facts that were well known, but making the characters more than just a regurgitation of what was already known and their own writing. How do you make the dialogue real, and the people involved come alive?

The cover of The Count of the Sahara available now on Kindle
The cover of The Count of the Sahara available now on Kindle

As I explain in this interview on Lavinia Colins blog, I had one of those aha moments writers love to blab on and on about. You can read the interview here,  but basically the desert scenes between Alonzo Pond and Byron de Prorok came alive when I found the analogy: It was “Amadeus in the Desert.” Read the article and find out why.

I remember standing in the archives at the Logan Museum of Anthropology when I had the epiphany.  The Logan’s exhibit on this expedition is opening soon, and if you’re in the area check it out. Meanwhile,  you can read the article on Lavinia’s site.

Full disclosure, Lavinia is a fellow writer for our publisher, TheBookFolks and a very good writer of Arthurian fantasy.

Logan Museum Celebrates Byron (and Alonzo’s) Expedition

I just found out today that the Logan Museum of Anthropology in  Beloit, Wi, is opening a new exhibit about the Franco-American Expedition of the Sahara of 1925. Why does this matter? Because it’s the setting for my novel, “The Count of the Sahara.”

The Exhibit, entitled, “Blue Veils and Black Mountains- Alonzo Pond’s 1925 Expedition to Southern Algeria,”  opens the week of August 17 and runs through October.

It’s no surprise that the exhibition focuses on Alonzo Pond, rather than Byron de Prorok…. one of the major scenes of my book takes place at Beloit College, and the news isn’t good for The Count.

There’s a good chance I’ll be asked to deliver a lecture up there based on my research. Given how the book wouldn’t have had a chance if not for them letting me rummage around in their archives, I’m thrilled. More details to come!