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Friday, September 2, 2011

Interview with Margaret Dilloway

I want to introduce you all to Margaret Dilloway. She is the fabulous new author of: How to Be An American Housewife. It is a captivating story of A Japanese woman that has gone from riches to rags and lost two men early in her life leading her to marry an American Navy corpsman after the war. This marriage leads her to her future in America and with a weakened heart yearns to return to her home country to make amends.

Ultimately her poor health keeps her from the trip she wished for and she sends her daughter in her place. This is an amazing read and I have personally felt touched by the characters in the book. I felt close to them, I cried for them, they truly were imprinted into my heart. Please be a supporter of Mrs. Dilloway so that we can see many more works from her in the years to come. Her writing style is structured, yet very unique in it’s own right.

I would like to share the interview here and a personal, “Thank you,” for her time. Enjoy!

ME: How to Be An American Housewife is truly a deep and touching account. How much of the novel was based on personal experiences?

MD: My mother told me stories about what it was like growing up in WWII Japan. I included several of these accounts in the book. The plot is fiction. My mother passed away when I was 20, so we never had the type of relationship that Sue and Shoko ultimately arrived at. I never traveled to Japan. My mother's relatives accept us Americans.

ME: Something that I found to be really fascinating about this book, and a touch I personally loved, were the quotes throughout the book. One of my favorites; “It is true that the Marriage is a difficult path for some people to stay on. As years pass, however, the proposition becomes easier. The husband grows accustomed to the company of his Wife, and vice versa. This is how families attain the permanence to which we all aspire. Do you think with America’s high divorce rate that if couples tried harder to work on their relationship and just stay together that eventually most small problems will resolve themselves in time?

MD: Perhaps. My husband and I have been married for nearly 14 years, and I think many small things that used to bother us just don't anymore. That's also because we've had periods of significant hardship, which makes the small things just that-- small.

ME: How long did it take you to write, How to Be an American Housewife, and are you  completely happy with the way it turned out? If you could do it all over again, would you change anything?

MD: I began writing this book when I was on bedrest with my last pregnancy, and when that baby started kindergarten, the book came out. It took about three years to write and sell it, one year of editing with my Putnam editor, and another year before it came out.

Sometimes when I read passages, I'll see words I want to change, but not really. You'd drive yourself crazy if you did, because you have to read it so often to the public.

ME: This particular novel seems to be quite a success. Has this changed anything about your life, and how has your family (I.E. children and husband) reacted to it?

MD: Nothing has really changed in my life. I did get to do a tour, which was only for a few days, and sometimes people ask me for interviews or to give talks.  My husband is super proud of me, because he's always encouraged me. The other night he said he has always seen my talent and it makes him happy that others now see it, too.  My kids are pleased to see the book, but I don't think it's terribly impressive to kids because it's not a kid's book. Now if I were JK Rowling, that would impress my kids.

ME: Who are your favorite authors?

MD: That is a difficult question, because it depends on what I'm in the mood for.  I really enjoy Sarah Addison Allen, Anne Tyler, and Pers Petterson.  If I'm reading before bed, I have to read a sort of more optimistic book, because otherwise I'll have disturbing dreams about the characters!

About my formative years: When I was in my early teens, my brother made me read a lot of sci fi and fantasy from his collections, so I loved Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Terry Brooks, and Piers Anthony. I also read Sweet Valley High and those VC Andrews books. And then I read all of F. Scott Fitzgerald (THE GREAT GATSBY still a fave) and Hemingway. None of it was for school. I think we just read abridged excerpts in school.

ME: Are you currently working on another novel, and if so can you tell us anything about it?

MD: I have a novel coming out in the spring called QUEEN OF SHOW. Let me cut & paste the catalog copy:

Thirty-six year old Gal Garner lives a regimented life. Her job teaching biology and her struggle with kidney disease keep her toggling between the high school, the hospital, and home on a strict schedule. Only at home, in her gardens, does Gal come alive. But even her passion, rose breeding, has a tangible and highly structured goal: Gal wants to create a new breed of rose, win Queen of Show in a major competition, and bring that rose to market…

Then one afternoon Gal's niece Riley, the daughter of her estranged sister, arrives.

Unannounced. And their lives will never be the same.

ME: Do you Google yourself?

MD: Heck yeah. I have a Google alert for myself and my book.

ME: I’ve read so many reviews for the book, which is what really pushed me to read it, but how do you react to any negative criticism?

MD: It honestly no longer affects me. After all, I don't enjoy every single book I read, so I don't expect everyone in the world to like my books.  I figure some bad reviews means it's getting more widely read.  People whom I really respect love the book; their opinions mean more than an anonymous critic.

ME: You touch base on stereotypes and prejudice. Is this something that you experienced as a child and  did you have a strong Japanese influence growing up?

MD: My family was its own culture, picking and choosing practices and customs from American and Japanese cultures.  It was only through my mother that I experienced Japanese cultures, because we didn't socialize with Japanese people, or with anyone, really.

I don't think I experienced discrimination for being half-Japanese, except in sort of positive ways, like people assuming I was really smart, or telling me I was attractive because of it. If I got teased, it was for things like being super shy or wearing glasses or having a crooked mouth, not for my race. I did get teased a lot when I was a kid.  People apologized at my reunion!

ME: Where would you like to see your career in the next five to ten years?

MD: I would like to establish an empire, with books, T-shirts, perfumes, films, a reality show, and lines of shoes and home products.  I'm only kidding.  Kind of.  I would be really happy just making a living as a writer.

This was a fantastic interview and you can read more about Margaret on her website at

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