Margaret Dilloway

Margaret Dilloway

Her father met her mother when he was in the Navy stationed in Japan. After they married they moved to California and raised a family – two boys and a daughter – in San Diego. Today that daughter is married with three kids and just published her first book.

Her book How to Be an American Housewife is about a Japanese war bride and the sometimes troubled relationship she has with her American daughter. The book’s story is of the Japanese bride wanting to make one last trip back to Japan to make amends with her family, but she turns out to be too sick to go so she sends her daughter. The trip ends up changing both their lives in unexpected ways.

One would believe that the story is based on Dilloway’s own story; however she says it is not. “Nothing in the book actually happened, but the relationship in the story is sort of like the relationship I had with my mother who passed away when I was 20,” Dilloway says.

Dilloway credits the SDSU Writers’ Conference for helping her move forward with her goal of publishing a book. “I first went to the conference in 2000, and then again in 2003. The first time I went, I didn’t have any idea of what to do. I just went for informational purposes and workshops. The second time I met with an agent and got an agent.”

The book that Dilloway originally wrote was never published but after working with another agent it was suggested that she “write a whole other book.” I tried since 2004 to get published, you just can’t give up on yourself,” she adds.

When discussing what she liked about the conference, Dilloway says “I liked how there is a first-night reception and it’s informal. The editors and agents sit around at tables and writers can talk and mingle with them. You also see them throughout the conference and it feels like they’re accessible.”

Dilloway’s first book’s success has led to another book that’s coming out in spring 2012. It’s titled, The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns, and the story focuses on an amateur rose breeder who’s close to perfecting a new breed of rose when her wayward niece comes to stay with her. This leads the main character to rearrange her life and rethink everything that she knows.

And what is Dilloway’s advice for aspiring authors and conference attendees, “Make sure your story is as fully developed and polished as possible before you show it to anybody. Writers should decide what they want their overall body of work to look like because most of the time once you start writing a certain kind of book, if it’s successful, you’ll have to keep writing that kind of book. So, you really have to decide what you want your whole body of work to be like.”

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