Fiction Fest: 10 questions with ‘The Mounds Anomaly’ author, Phyllis Gunderson

Mounds Anomaly 2x3Phyllis Gunderson’s “The Mounds Anomaly” is the author’s third novel and offers fact-based fiction with controversial ideas tucked into an adventure.

When the heroine, Matt Howard, finds a gold coin engraved with a cryptic symbol, her life unravels. She should have put the coin in a shoebox under her bed, but Matt can’t leave it alone. The symbol guides her to the Michigan Mounds, which lead to a Smithsonian cover-up. With her teaching job in jeopardy and her ten-year-old adopted daughter in tow, Matt finds herself on a hazardous hunt to uncover forbidden history.

You can purchase the book in bookstores and on,, and

Gunderson recently took the time to field a few questions, for which we are very grateful.

What is “The Mounds Anomaly” about?

It’s fact-based fiction about previous civilizations in America, from the Michigan mounds and ancient forts to European burial caves in Illinois.  It also involves a connection among Catholics, Mormons, and the Smithsonian Institute. My heroine gets yanked from Colorado to Oklahoma following the clues. She is warned to keep quiet or lose her job, but risks everything to find the truth that should change history.

You refer to yourself as a fan of unsolved mysteries and off-beat archaeology.  What is the greatest unsolved mystery of all time?

The honest answer may not be appropriate for this setting, but it isn’t about history or archaeology.  It’s about religion. The greatest mystery is the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ and how it covers all mankind.  Now, there’s an unsolvable mystery.

You are interested in hidden history and forbidden science. What’s the biggest piece of hidden history?

I came across it a piece at a time while doing research for one of my other books. Put simply, pre-historic civilizations existed long before we came along. Hints surface, such as Plato’s re-writing of the Atlantis story from the Library of Alexandria, or the geological dating of the Sphinx which differed from archaeologists’ by several thousand years. The ruins of Tiahuanaco may date to 15,000 BC, which is impossible since it’s already been decided that mankind was too primitive to build cities at that time. Scientists lose their jobs if they argue against the paradigm.  So clues are ignored and hidden.

By forbidden science, do you mean the type that was presented in Fox’s TV show, “Fringe”?

I had to look up “Fringe” on the Internet. It sounds like a modern “Twilight Zone,” something I would have enjoyed, but I missed it.  My kind of forbidden science is not science fiction.  In “The Mounds Anomaly,” I mention how artifacts, proof that the ancient world came to America, are labeled “hoax” and “fraud” by authorities.  The idea that the other side of the world made it to America before Columbus, in spite of the evidence, is an example of “forbidden science.”

You’ve traveled abroad extensively. What’s your favorite foreign and domestic destinations?

You want me to choose my favorite country?  That’s like asking the mother of many children which one she likes best. Every country I’ve seen has had deep magic in its culture and history, both positive and negative.  Thailand was a colorful land of smiles. Cambodia still weeps over the effects of Pol Pot.  As for domestic destinations, I like Provo, Utah. But my bucket list includes future tourist trips across America.

What is your writing routine like?

All my children are grown, so my time is my own. If I wake up at three in the morning, I can write if I want.  I have multiple projects that I rotate through, from family histories to journals to lessons to novels.

What would surprise us about Phyllis Gunderson?

I don’t know what would surprise anyone else.  I am daily surprised at the discovery that my life didn’t turn out how I thought it would, and I am not who I thought I was.

What’s the most joy writing has brought to you?

Getting published. It’s terrific fun.  What a thrill to pick up a real book that was just a bunch of papers a year ago.

What do you like least about being a writer?

Getting published.  The hassle, the contracts, the disagreements on grammar, the ups and downs, euphoria of success, depression from failure. It’s a bi-polar industry.

What advice would you offer to aspiring novelists?

Writing is a lonely thing. You isolate yourself behind a closed door with a “Do Not Disturb” sign and pour out your soul, agonizing over every word. Then you get rejected by people who don’t care about the depth of your experience.  Ridicule comes from critics who would rather watch TV.  Finally, you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?”  If the answer feels good, keep writing.