History professor writes murder mysteries; gives advice to aspiring writers

By day, students may know Dr. Gerald Anderson as simply their history professor, but in reality he is so much more than that. One could say he has a certain amount of mystery about him.

Anderson wrote his first novel in 1994, basing the plot on something that had happened to his father.

“It was a historical novel set in western Minnesota in 1926,” Anderson said. “It was a good story, so I wrote it up.”

Anderson’s published his most recent novel, “The Unicorn Murder or Victoria’s Revenge” this summer.

Anderson’s published his most recent novel, “The Unicorn Murder or Victoria’s Revenge” this summer.

Anderson drew inspiration not only from his father, but also from murder mystery parties his wife would throw.

“My wife was a fabulous entertainer,” he said.

This second novel of his, “Death Before Dinner,” takes place in Fergus Falls. Anderson set the novel there for a variety of reasons.

“It’s a nice community,” he said. “Beautiful town. Not very many murders.”

Besides how clean and simple the town is, Anderson lets it set up its own jokes throughout his book.

“It’s a pretty Scandinavian town,” he laughed. “That way I can throw in a Norwegian joke.”

Anderson’s latest novel, “The Unicorn Murder or Victoria’s Revenge” came out in June and can be found in bookstores all around the Midwest, including Barnes and Noble and Zandbroz.

Even though his books can be found in retailers, Anderson is very humble about his works.

“We aren’t talking high class literature here, he laughed. “I wouldn’t say it’s rubbish … You’ve got to start someplace.”

Anderson, although humble, is an experienced writer and has advice for students who are aspiring to follow in his footsteps.

“Take a chance in yourself,” he said. “You’ve got to have ambitions.”

Anderson also encourages aspiring writers to find someone to be a second reader for them, in order to criticize it.

“Don’t be too thick-skinned about it,” Anderson said.

Anderson also encourages students to always keep working on their writing.

Anderson published his first novel, “The Uffda Trial” in 1994. It was based on actual events.

Anderson published his first novel, “The Uffda Trial” in 1994. It was based on actual events.

“The only way you get to be a better writer is to keep writing,” he said.  “Also, the more you read good writing the better you become. You develop vocabulary, and you develop your own style.”

Even though Anderson is a published author, he still thinks of himself as a teacher first. Having taught at NDSU, Concordia and of course MSUM, as well as getting his masters from NDSU and doctorate from the University of Iowa, teaching will always be his chosen profession.

“My main life is teaching,” he said. “I really like teaching. If people like my books, that’s great.”

BY ELLEN ROSSOW
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