June Gossler Anderson
June Gossler Anderson is not a native, but has lived in Anoka County for over 50 years. Although she has written and published over a dozen books, she considers this one to be her opus. Much of her research came through history columns she wrote for the Anoka newspapers.
Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write it?
The Other Side of Anoka, is a historical fiction account of the beginnings of the City of Anoka. It covers the decades from 1852 to 1912. I became interested in the history of Anoka back in 2007 when I started volunteering for the Anoka County Historical Society as a Ghost Tour Guide. The Other Side of Anoka consists of three parts or “books.” The first, In the Beginning, is an essay about the French and Indian fur trade culture that dominated the area before Minnesota became a state. Book Two, Karen, takes place in contemporary Anoka where Karen, who becomes a Ghost Tour Guide after her husband dies, puzzles over what has happened to the essence of this man who was once such a vital human being. Where has he gone? Karen’s quest for answers leads her to a past life where, as Carrie, she lived in Anoka when the city was first forming. Book Three, Carrie, is the heart of the book. Ten-year old Carrie settles in Anoka in 1852 with her family and, over the next sixty years, her fictionalized interactions with historical Anokans weaves its way through the rich tapestry that is Anoka.
Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
After my interest in historical Anoka was piqued by the Ghost Tours, I furthered my research by writing for the Anoka Union Herald Newspaper on the history of Anoka County. Seven years and 80 columns later, I published them in my book, Digging up the Past: Unearthing the Stories of Anoka County. Through my research, I had begun to know many of these early Anokans intimately and I wanted to write about them in a way that would bring both them and their stories to life. For that, I would need to add fictional characters to give the stories feet and wings. The challenge in writing The Other Side of Anoka was synching my fictional characters up with my historical ones in the correct time frame.
Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing? If not, who are some of your favorite writers?
The author who influenced me the most in writing this fictionalized history of Anoka was Albert Goodrich, the man who compiled The History of Anoka and published it in 1904. Goodrich’s history contained many stories and events that took place in this fledgling city along with short biographies of many of its leading citizens. It was my guidebook and roadmap for writing The Other Side of Anoka
Has a library or librarian impacted your life or your writing life?
Although I had already obtained a BS degree in education from the U of M in 1959, I majored in Library Science and English at the College of St. Catherine in the 1980s. While there, I used their library to augment my great-grandfather’s account of the Civil War that he left to his descendants in the form of a diary/memoir. The joke in class was that everyone was writing a 10-page research paper except June, who’s writing a book. They were right. I published my first book, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Granger, Grant, and Grandpa, in 2000 and have since republished it as Grandpa Henry and the Battle of Lookout Mountain.
When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I take great joy in teaching my community ed class, “How to Publish your Book and not Go Broke,” with my son, Todd, and mentoring aspiring writers. Together, Todd and I have coached/helped dozens of writers bring their dreams to fruition by enabling them to publish their books.
Favorite place to visit in Minnesota?
During the summer months, I have the opportunity to travel to Minnesota cities far and wide with my son Todd, whose full-time career is that of an entertainer. Last summer we traveled as far north as Green Bush and Rosseau; as far west as Ottertail: and as far east as Lindstrom, where Todd entertained at senior facilities and city festivals as “Elvis.”
Where can readers find you online?