'The Curse of Oak Island'

“The Curse of Oak Island” cover.

TRAVERSE CITY — For author Randall Sullivan, the story of Oak Island started in 2003 as a piece for Rolling Stone magazine.

Sullivan first heard about Oak Island thirdhand — he was told about it by an editor who heard about it from his freshman-year college roommate.

Oak Island is said to be the hiding place of a mysterious buried treasure. It has been the site of several excavation attempts since the early 1800s, particularly around what is known as the “Money Pit” — a man-made shaft reinforced with oak platforms, coconut fiber and ship’s putty and protected by a sophisticated labyrinth tunnel system.

“I was startled by the idea of a treasure hunt that had gone on for more than 200 years — it seized my imagination,” said Sullivan, a contributing author to Rolling Stone for more than 20 years and author of six books.

A different editor allowed him to travel to the small island just off of Nova Scotia, Canada, and Sullivan’s article eventually ran in the Jan. 22, 2004 edition of Rolling Stone.

Locals might know “The Curse of Oak Island” title better from the History channel’s show, featuring Traverse City’s Marty and Rick Lagina.

The show’s seventh season is set to premiere Nov. 5.

But first, Marty Lagina will join Sullivan on stage for the National Writers Series to talk about “The Curse of Oak Island” — the title of one of Sullivan’s book, the television show and Randall’s original magazine story.

Sullivan’s book came about after he got a call in early 2016 from the television show’s producers, asking him to join the cast for a month on Oak Island.

The title of the series was a point of resentment for a while, so he hadn’t watched the show, Sullivan said.

By then, he’d realized he wasn’t finished with the story of Oak Island and was excited to explore further, Sullivan said.

“I knew I hadn’t really explored the subject to my complete satisfaction,” he said.

Sullivan was on deadline for another book at the time the call came and knew he’d need an extension.

His publisher’s response was, if he was going to the island again, “then you’d better write a book,” Sullivan said.

“When I first started, I was a little bit uneasy,” Sullivan said. “The treasure hunt had become the show and the show had become the treasure hunt.”

He wasn’t sure how much was going to be staged, but ended up finding the Lagina brothers to be “really honest guys who are really curious,” Sullivan said.

But Rick and Marty took seriously their job as custodians of the island and the treasure hunt, he said.

“It really eased my concerns,” Sullivan said. “They weren’t it in for the TV show or for the money — they would have been doing it with or without the TV show and that made me feel a lot better about teaming up with them.”

Whether the Laginas are the ones to reach the “eureka” moment, or it’s someone who follows in their footsteps, he doesn’t know, Sullivan said. But until that moment’s had, he doesn’t expect interest in the mystery of Oak Island to wane.

“Randall’s book is sort of the long picture of the island,” National Writers Series Executive Director Anne Stanton said. “It’s a comprehensive history. Marty’s the latest chapter, of course, for the curse of Oak Island.”

The event is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Oct. 9 at the City Opera House. Patrick Livingston will serve as guest host.

Troy Reimink originally was going to host the session, but was unable to because of other work obligations, Stanton said.

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