Christoph Fromm and the Battle of Stalingrad From the German Side

Every human being sees history through their own eyes, but too often readers get to see it from essentially one side… a cynic would say the winners’, but more likely those who write primarily for an English speaking audience. However, we all know any time human beings are involved, everyone has their own take. That’s what makes historical fiction so fascinating. Case in point… when was the last time you read about a WWII battle from the German side?

Christoph Fromm studied at the film academy (Hochschule für Film und

Christoph Fromm has written about the Battle of Stalingrad as you've never heard it.
Christoph Fromm has written about the Battle of Stalingrad as you’ve never heard it.

Fernsehen) in Munich from 1977 to 1981. He has worked as a full-time screenwriter since 1983. He started early with writing prose alongside his work on screenplays.

In 1984 he published the short story collection “Der kleine Bruder”. After working on several movie and television screenplays, he founded the publishing house Primero Verlag together with children’s books author Tina Lizius in 2006. In the same year he published the political thriller “Die Macht des Geldes”.  In 2013 he published his novel “Stalingrad: The Loneliest Death” which was a great success. In 2015 it was translated into English.

His third novel “Amoklauf im Paradies” will be published in spring 2016.

 In a nutshell, what’s the book about?

In September 1942, the few survivors of a Sturmpionierbataillion stationed in Northern Africa are sent to the Eastern front. During the decisive battle of Stalingrad – which claimed more than two million victims – the soldiers lose all their moral inhibitions and confronted by trench warfare, close combat for every single house, hunger and arctic cold, madness is their only remaining refuge before dying anyway…

Young lieutenant Hans von Wetzland is forced to recognise that these conditions do not allow him or his soldiers to stick even to the most basic moral principles.

What is it about that time period or character that intrigued you and motivated you to write about it?

My novel is based on extensive research in the course of which I was also able to talk to numerous contemporary witnesses. I was especially fascinated by the letters from my mother’s former fiancé who was stationed at the Eastern front as a lieutenant of the German general staff, later as an artillery captain, and who went missing in action in February 1945. It is alarming to recognise how contemporary his longing for personal happiness, romance, and his escape into religious, conservative, apolitical areas appears.

What interested me most about my fictive protagonist was his transformation from a war romantic to a war defector. The cauldron of Stalingrad shocked me with its existential and extreme situations. The vast majority of the soldiers could not remain human under these inhuman conditions, but were overpowered by madness which did not even stop at cannibalism and taking the law into their own hand.

Stalingrad was a nightmare for all participants, although most Americans know little about it. What’s your favorite scene in the book (without giving away any spoilers)?

That would be chapter 48 in which the soldiers are demoted and have to shovel snow off a street inside the cauldron of Stalingrad. When they are completely exhausted and finally achieve their target for the day, they recognise that the murderous strain was completely in vain as they cleared this street only because of an administrative error.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?

You can get the English Translation of Stalingrad on Amazon Kindle
You can get the English Translation of Stalingrad: The Loneliest Death on Amazon Kindle

You can find my eBook on Amazon and if you have a Kindle Unlimited account it is also available for lending. 

http://www.amazon.com/Stalingrad-Loneliest-Death-Christoph-Fromm-ebook/dp/B00Y30GRVO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448549163&sr=8-1&keywords=Stalingrad+Fromm

 I am also on Goodreads and Library Thing.

 You can find more information (only in German) about me and my publisher at

http://www.primeroverlag.de/

https://www.facebook.com/primeromuenchen

 

Radio Interview: Indiana Jones Myth or Reality talks Byron and why Archaeologists Need Presentation Skills

Had a great time doing this one-hour radio interview with Dr. Joseph Schuldenrein on November 18. We discussed Byron de Prorok, why presentation skills matter to scientists, and why I could never…. ever…. be a real archaeologist.

It was a wide-ranging interview, and a lot of fun. Take a listen:

Check out the Indiana Jones: Myth or Reality podcast.
Check out the Indiana Jones: Myth or Reality podcast.

The Count of the Sahara Gets Honorable Mention, 2015 Great Midwest Book Festival

What a nice surprise. The Count of the Sahara has been awarded Honorable Mention as “General fiction book of the year” at the 2015 Great Midwest Book Festival.

Below is the book’s place on their Table of Honor Page.

The Count of the Sahara took an "Honorable Mention" for the 2015 Great Midwest Book Festival.
The Count of the Sahara took an “Honorable Mention” for the 2015 Great Midwest Book Festival.

It’s so gratifying that the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, if a bit mixed. If you’ve enjoyed the story, please tell the world on Amazon or Goodreads.

Oh and my favorite review so far? A 4-star that started with “I liked this book and I don’t know why…”

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,  hughesj@beloit.edu 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.

Janet Squires and the Old West (Arizona Edition)

One of the most mythologized/lied about/ accurately reported periods in history is the opening of the American West. So much that’s true is fascinating and so much of what is “known” is uhhhhhhh utter nonsense. That said, it’s ripe for good historical fiction. That’s where Janet Squires comes in.

Janet Squires looking incredibly Western-ish.
Janet Squires looking incredibly Western-ish.

She began her career writing short stories and nonfiction articles for national periodicals. However, my work as a Library Media Specialist for a school district inspired me to shift by attention to children’s books. Her first picture book, The Gingerbread Cowboy, is the Arizona Governor’s 2007 first grade book. A special edition of 100,000 copies was printed and distributed to every first grade student in the state.

Since then she’s broadened her focus and now writes fiction and nonfiction for both children and adults, which brings us to her novel, “Desperate Straits”  She teaches writing workshops, volunteers for literacy events at libraries and schools, tend a large organic garden. In whatever time she has left, she likes to saddle up and ride, or hike with her dog.

Okay, so in a nutshell, what’s “Desperate Straits” about?

Irish immigrant Sarah Ryan’s hope for a new life in the Arizona Territory is shattered in an instant by gunfire. Suddenly, she has to rebuild an uncertain future with her orphaned nephew, Will, and take on the challenges of a cattle ranch. Just when order returns, veteran lawman, L.T. McAllister rides in. He’s a dangerous man determined to do what’s right regardless of the personal cost. L.T. believes himself ready for anything until he meets Sarah. Her ideas about the man he’s become soon pit his lifetime of duty against desire.

Desperate Straits is her first novel about the settling of Arizona
Desperate Straits is her first novel about the settling of Arizona

L.T.’s and Sarah’s loyalty to Will catapults them into a life for which neither one is prepared. When L.T. and Sarah stand between one man and his obsession with the Lost Adam’s Gold,  they trigger a firestorm of retaliation. Kidnapping and murder escalates into a battle for justice… and their lives.

What is it about that time period you find so fascinating? 

The American frontier has always been a passion for me. I grew up listening to tales of how my Irish/Cherokee ancestors pioneered their way West as ranchers, miners, and lawmen. Later, research into my family history uncovered personal accounts of life in the eighteen hundreds — Kentucky during the civil war — wagon trains from Texas — lives that inspired me with examples of fortitude, courage, and humor. Frontier life is personal for me.

One of my fondest childhood memories is waking in a creaky old iron bed to the sound of my Dad chopping wood so Grandma could cook breakfast on the wood burning stove she used til the day she died. I’m a daughter of the West… it’s the place where I’m at home.

Without giving away spoilers, what’s your favorite scene in the book?

Oh, wow…this is a tough question. Certainly, one of my favorite events is Sarah’s arrival in the Arizona Territory from Ireland. She defends herself against a shotgun wielding ranch hand with nothing but a broom, teaches herself to ride astride, and confronts the challenge of befriending her newly orphaned nephew. Each trial speaks to Sarah’s strength of character, courage, quick wits, and sense of humor. A quick poll of some of the men who’ve read my book puts L.T.’s action scenes at the top of their favorites list.

Men, what’re you gonna do with them? Where can people learn more about you and your work?

People can learn more about me and my books through these Social Media Outlets —

Website: http://www.janetsquiresbooks.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janetsquiresbooks?ref=hl

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Janet-Squires/e/B001IGQIQK/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1445792569&sr=8-1

Blog: All About the Books with Janet Squires: http://janetsquires.blogspot.com/

Twitter: Janet Squires Author@Janet Squires

I’m also on GoodReads and Riffle.

Smart Answer to a Silly Question: Chris Northern and “Why Rome?”

In a moment of snark in a previous post, I posed the question, “Why does it seem like every other historical fiction novel is set in ancient Rome?” (By the way, Rome is the new Middle Ages if the list of new books is any indication.) This is not terribly new in traditional “histfic”, but there are more and more fantasy books set in this time as well.  In a Goodreads discussion, author Chris Northern, author of the Price of Freedom/Freedom’s Fool series took me to task.

I asked him, using small words that even I could understand, to explain why that was. Here’s his answer. Enjoy.

I enjoy the mix of history and fantasy, but some people are uneasy with it. Why do you think they go together so well?

History and Fantasy are tied together by numerous silken threads. Fantasy develops naturally from history for the simple reason that a fantasy social and

Chris Northern explains the fascination with the Roman Empire
Chris Northern explains the fascination with the Roman Empire

political structure must be based on something, and picking a historical period is the simplest method available. The high medieval period has been the default choice for a good while, but it has become far more common to reach further afield geographically and temporally for a framework to define fantasy stories.

 

And we are kind of burned out on the pretend-medieval theme, I grant you.  So why Rome?

Rome is not one commonly used, but for me it was the most obvious choice. When I first settled to write The Last King’s Amulet, the first novel The Price of Freedom/Freedom’s Fool fantasy series, I desired a background where a central, magically powerful state expanded and contracted in cycles, more or less at the whims of a ruling class that were competing with each other as much or more than they were with other nations. I also had in mind a fantasy Falco, the protagonist of the murder mystery series by Lindsey Davis. The adoption of the Roman Republic seemed natural enough, and has defined the series ever since.
Ancient Rome burns bright in European and World History for more reasons than I can begin to address here, though I will make every effort to touch on as many as possible. To begin with, though little noted, is that it is one of the few cultures to so obviously encompass a complete cycle of political development and decay to its own self-destruction. Beginning as a Kingdom, transitioning into a Republic, Democracy and enduring a surprisingly long time as an Imperial Dictatorship as stubbornly maintained economic incompetence corroded the wealth of the empire to the point that the difference between the Barbarians and Rome itself was wafer thin when the latter swamped the former and the Dark Ages ensued.
The centralisation of power, the physical and social isolation of an increasingly centralised ruling class, the drift away from pragmatic response to economic and political problems… these are all things that led to the downfall of Rome as geopolitical power, and are all echoed in modern times, which I think is one of the reasons there has been a resurgence in interest in Rome. We see the decline of Rome going on around us on a daily basis – for Rome, read Washington, London, Brussels, concentrations of powerful individuals living in an echo chamber where voices of dissent are marginalised. No one told the Emperor Diocletion that his ‘great new idea’ of universal price fixing on all goods was a terrible idea because no one around him knew any better, all potential voices of dissent having been removed from the ruling society. We see that our own society, now more-or-less global, has its own systemic problems that will not be address, that cannot be addressed, because of the prevailing culture of advancement only of those who accept the ruling elite’s views.
So basically, it’s easy to make analogies…..
Much is made of the military might of Rome, the invulnerable Legions, with little reference to the fact that the Legions fought well in significant part because they were, as individuals, advantaged economically by the society they were fighting to protect and expand. When that advantage was no longer a factor – token coinage that had no value and a shattered economy that offered little in the way of goods to purchase – the soldiery ceased to be invested in winning battles. It is also little mentioned that one of the primary reasons the Republic and early Empire won wars even though they routinely lost battles, was because they always had enough wealth in reserve to raise more armies. War is never a cheap undertaking and if a nation simply does not have a robust economy that generates wealth, wars are less likely to be successfully prosecuted. Lost wars cause loss of territory, confidence and social cohesion, as well as cause further economic difficulties.
One title of the Freedoms Fool series
One title of the Freedoms Fool series

Still, Rome burns bright in history as one of the longest lasting empires, territories of economic and social stability, that the world has ever seen. Little wonder that it resurfaces in the collective psyche when our own times become increasing unstable. Perhaps we recognise the parallels and subconsciously fear Rome’s ultimate fate – a decent into barbarism and poverty that we know can persist for centuries. Not a cheery thought, but perhaps one worth a little more than a passing glance.

Thanks, I’m smarter now than when I started…… Where can people learn more?
The Price of Freedom (Freedom’s Fool) consists of four novels, to date: The Last King’s Amulet, The Key To The Grave, The Invisible Hand, and All the King’s Bastards.

The Count of the Sahara is FREE this week on Kindle

Hey all. The Count of the Sahara is available in both paperback and Kindle, but if you’re a Kindle reader–or know people who load up their Kindle for cheap

The cover of The Count of the Sahara available now FREE  in Kindle format for the next week. Also available in paperback from Amazon or direct from the publisher.
The cover of The Count of the Sahara available now FREE in Kindle format for the next week. Also available in paperback from Amazon or direct from the publisher.

(guilty!) please spread the word.

If you wonder why a publisher would give an ebook away, so was I. Then I looked at my sales ranking an hour after the announcement:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,837 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)

I’m going to assume Erik and the folks at TheBookFolks.com know what they’re about. If you’ve read it and enjoyed it, please tell your friends, fellow readers and the world.

Deborah Lincoln- Family Roots in Old Missouri

I’m always fascinated by (and somewhat jealous of) people who can draw upon their family histories as the jumping-off place for historical fiction. That’s because I know embarrassingly little about my own roots. I mean, I had ancestors, I just don’t know anything beyond the fact I must have had great grandparents. Deborah Lincoln, on the other hand,  has used family history to write her tale of Missouri before the US Civil War, “Agnes Canon’s War.”

Deborah Lincoln lives and writes in Oregon
Deborah Lincoln lives and writes in Oregon

Deborah Lincoln has lived on the Central Oregon Coast for ten years. S. She and her husband have three grown sons. She was awarded first place in the 2013 Chanticleer Laramie Awards (best in category) and was a 2015 finalist for a Willa Award in historical fiction presented by Women Writing the West.

So tell us what the book’s about?

Agnes Canon’s War is the fictionalized story of my great great-grandparents’ experiences during the Civil War in Missouri. Agnes Canon is 28 and a spinster when she leaves her home in Pennsylvania in the spring of 1852 to join a group of cousins who traveled to frontier Holt County in northwest Missouri. There she meets and marries Jabez Robinson, a doctor who was born in Maine and had traveled to the California gold fields and the army posts of the Southwest during the Mexican-American War. In the decade before the Civil War actually breaks out, both Kansas and Missouri are a battleground of politics and acts of violence, and Agnes and Jabez are in the thick of it. This is the story of two people who watch their family, their town, everything that keeps a society civil, crumble into a chaos they are powerless to stop.

What is it about this time period that intrigued you enough to write the book?

I had access to the basic facts of my ancestors’ lives, which were compiled by a cousin in the 1970s. The characters were so exceptional, the events so

Agnes Canon's War draws on her own family history
Agnes Canon’s War draws on her own family history

extraordinary, that I didn’t want the story to die out. Agnes seemed to me to stand out from other nineteenth-century women, in that she chose to turn her back on her family home in Pennsylvania and venture into the unknown. She left behind six siblings, none of whom ever married or bore children, so her marriage and children were the only links to the next generation.

Jabez, too, was a fascinating and even romantic character: though he was born and raised in Maine, he held secessionist views during the Civil War and suffered from them. He was an adventurer, too, traveling to California and the Southwest in the 1840s, becoming a doctor in the face of all sorts of challenges, marrying his first love after a ten-year separation only to lose her within two months of the wedding. The “plot” was tailor-made for a novel, and though I left out lots of events and made up others, I hope I did them justice.

Without setting off the spoiler alert, what’s your favorite scene?

Several of my favorite scenes would give away too much. So I’ll choose an early one: a scene set in Cincinnati where Agnes and Jabez meet for the first time, an accidental encounter at a marketplace along the riverfront. I like it for the sense of being suspended between civilization and frontier, for the colorful characters and the bustle and excitement of an exuberant young town. It mirrors Agnes’s hope for and optimism in her future.

Where can people find your award-winning book?

Agnes Canon’s War is available on

Website:        http://www.deborahlincoln.org

GoodReads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21882293-agnes-canon-s-war

Facebook:      https://www.facebook.com/deborahslincoln?fref=ts

Twitter:          @dslincoln51

It’s not based on my family, but if you enjoy historical fiction,you can check out The Count of the Sahara, available on Amazon or from The Book Folks

Lisle Library Gets a Fine New Addition

The Lisle Public Library is now the home of a copy of The Count of the Sahara. If you spent as much time as a kid as I did in your local public library, you know that it’s a pretty big honking deal.

Snuck in to see it with my own eyes. Only thing better would be if was checked out and I couldn't find it!
Snuck in to see it with my own eyes. Only thing better would be if was checked out and I couldn’t find it!

The Lisle Public Library is located at 777 Front St, Lisle, IL