10 QUESTIONS FOR…Fred Wendorf, a memoirist who sold movie rights


Author interview with Fred Wendorfwendorf-book-coverwendorf-photo

Fred Wendorf is a retired Professor of Archeology from Southern Methodist University currently living in Dallas, Texas. Fred has promoted and advanced the field of archeology through his work as a college professor, field archeologist and noted author in his field. He spends his time between Taos, New Mexico and Dallas with his wife Cindy, six children and seven grandchildren. The movie rights to Fred’s autobiography have been purchased.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

 My recent book, “Desert Days, My Life as a Field Archaeologist,” published by SMU Press, follows my life from my early years in Terrell, TX, my enlistment in the army (September 1942) shortly after my 18th birthday (July 31, 1924), and my life as a prehistorian, at first in the American Southwest, but after 1962 in Northeast Africa, in Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia. My book is full of humor, and some archaeology stories. I think I succeeded in my goal of writing a book that would be of interest to any intelligent reader. There are about 40+ pages about my army life as 20-year-old Second Lieutenant fighting in northern Italy until I was wounded on March 3, 1945. I spent two years in an army hospital. My right arm was paralyzed, and still is. I went back to the University of Arizona in Tucson, then to Harvard for my MA and PhD. Through luck, and the support of several senior prehistorian friends, I became involved in the effort to save the archaeological sites being destroyed by pipelines, highways, and river basins. As a pioneer in this effort my professional career was greatly enhanced. Over the years I received many awards, two of which are my election to the U. S. National Academy of Sciences, and the Lucy Wharton Medal given once every five years. I was elected President of each of the three major American archaeological societies, and President Regan appointed me to the Secretary of Interior’s Advisory Board for the National Park Service.

I have written, assembled, or edited more than 30 books, and more than a hundred articles in professional journals. All of these are technical descriptive reports and records of archeological history.

 2. How did you get started as a writer?

My first book was written while still an undergraduate after returning from the army 6 months earlier. It is a report on the excavation of a small pueblo and 15 underlying pithouses located at a place called Point of Pines, in east central Arizona. The book was published by University of Arizona Press.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

I have just finished a two and half year writing project about my life, and now I am becoming involved in giving talks about the book and holding book signings. Three more signing events are scheduled, two in Dallas and a third in Atlanta.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

 I have two workspaces, my home office and my office at SMU. The top of both desks are covered with letters, manuscripts, dictionaries, and sticky notes of various colors. My walls in both offices are covered with photos taken in the field and of my six children. My home office also has one wall covered with my awards and appointments, ie. National Academy of Sciences, etc.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers).

I read murder and spy novels and the Economist.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you.

I am a hard worker. I like people. I spent forty-four field seasons, each 8 to 10 weeks long, in Egypt and Sudan, mostly in the Western Sahara.

7. Favorite quote.


8. Best and worst part of being a writer.

It is hard work, but produces great pleasure when my book or my article is published and I read the publication for the first time.

9. Advice for other writers.

Stay with it IF you enjoy it and like the results!

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.  

My recent book “Desert Days: My Life as a Field Archaeologist” has the wrong dates for the deaths of both my mother and my father. I will correct this goof if we have a second printing.


Where can people buy your book?

Copies are available through Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/Desert-Days-Life-Field-Archaeologist/dp/0870745247/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233954915&sr=1-1


 Barnes & Noble, http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Desert-Days/Fred-Wendorf/e/9780870745249/?itm=4


Borders, http://www.borders.com/online/store/TitleDetail?sku=0870745247


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