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Interview with Margaret Dilloway-The Care and Handling of Roses With Thorns

[ Edited ]

The Care and Handling of Roses With Thorns  

 

 

Overview
Winner of the ALA Reading List Award

Difficult and obstinate. Thriving under a set of specific and limited conditions. That pretty much describes me. Maybe that’s why I like these roses so much.

Roses are Galilee Garner’s passion. An amateur breeder, she painstakingly cross-pollinates her plants to coax out new, better traits, striving to create a perfect strain of her favorite flower, the Hulthemia. 

What people are saying about the novel:
“I was captivated from the very first page. This uplifting novel about family and forgiveness brought me to both laughter and tears.”—Jean Kwok, New York Times bestselling author of Girl in Translation

“Rapturous. To say I loved this book is an understatement.”—Caroline Leavitt, New York Timesbestselling author of Pictures of You

“A touching, moving story…Margaret Dilloway is a gifted, talented writer.”—Darien Gee, author ofFriendship Bread

“Galilee Garner is as prickly, thorny, and gracefully sweet as one of her prize roses.”—Tiffany Baker,New York Times bestselling author of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County

 


 

To celebrate the release of her novel in its paperback edition I’m welcoming Margaret Dilloway to chat about it.

 

Margaret welcome!

 

Tell us a bit about The Care and Handling of Roses With Thorns.

Gal Garner breeds roses as her hobby and wants to win Queen of Show at a major venue. Rose growing requires meticulous attention and provides a respite from her regular life of kidney dialysis and teaching biology at a private high school. Because of her lifelong disease and her upbringing, Gal’s shut out deep relationships, and she’s not exactly warm and cuddly. She thinks that if everyone only did what she said, everything would be much better—and she’s not shy about telling people when they’re wrong.

Her sister Becky, who’s always been the family member everyone’s had to bail out, sends Gal’s niece Riley to live with Gal. And Gal has to learn how to share her life with another person, and how to take the risks that love makes necessary.

 

On your website you say that you wrote your first novel in the 8th  grade.
Where is it now?
Have you ever thought of revising it for publication?

The manuscript got lost during one of our numerous moves. I’ve never really had time to revisit it—maybe I will one day. It was basically about me and two of my friends and the boys we liked, and a complicated code system the girls had to describe the boys, which then fell into the wrong hands. (Dun-dun-DAH!) Every time I wrote a chapter, my friends begged me for the next. It was great motivation.

 

This is your second (published) novel.
How was this release day different from when How to Be an American Housewife released?

I knew what to expect this time. I suppose I’m more sanguine about everything, because once the book’s out there, you can’t really do anything except hope that people will read it and tell their friends to get it.

 

 

You also mention on your website that you have three small children.
When and where do you find the time to write?
Is your husband helpful during trips to the “writing cave”?

My kids are all in school now, so I work while they’re gone. During the summer, I don’t work that much! They’re 14, 11, and 7 now, so they’re old enough to mostly amuse themselves for a couple of hours and get their own snacks if I need to write.

However, I know an author with six kids (Marybeth Whalen), so I’ve pretty much been trumped by that and will never ever complain about having just three.  

 

Is being a novelist your only (paying) job?

Yes, for now. Definitely, my husband’s not going to quit his job anytime soon, but it’s a nice supplement.

 

Your nickname for your ex-Ranger husband is Cadillac.
How did that happen?

Somebody at his work called him Cadillac, because he’s sturdy and reliable and American-made. I thought it was cute. And initially, my husband had a mortal fear of his real name being on the Internet, so I used Cadillac instead. 

 

 

So you went to college to study art and even studied in Italy.
When did the light-bulb go off that told you to pursue your lifelong love of storytelling into a profession?

Every path I tried out led back to writing, again and again, until it was apparent that I really cannot do anything else! Or at least, I should be writing. After college, I was auditioning as an actor, and I rarely got any roles—but the plays I submitted to festivals always got in. A temp job working on classified ads for a newspaper led to editorial work, reviewing plays and writing features. An administrative job for a Bluetooth company led to writing Bluetooth for Dummies, which got canceled( though I did get to keep my advance!). After I got laid off from the Bluetooth company and had our second child, I began freelance writing, and started writing some fiction in earnest.

 

 

What are you working on now?

A contemporary story with a historical thread about a 12th century historical samurai woman, Tomoe Gozen.

 

 

Are you a reader and who do you enjoy reading?

I read a little bit of everything. I really like Per Petterson and Cormac McCarthy and that spare, beautiful kind of prose.  Recently, I read BLACK COUNTRY by Alex Grecian, which is book two in a mystery series about the Scotland Yard in the Victorian era; I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE, by Laura Lippman; and SHINE, SHINE, SHINE by Lydia Netzer. I recommend all of them! Right now I’m reading Beth Hoffman’s new book, LOOKING FOR ME, which I am saving for my bedtime.

 

What’s the best thing about being an author?

Getting paid to talk to imaginary friends. It is very surreal concept. My book club read my book and they were arguing about the characters, and one friend stopped the discussion and said, “Do you realize we are arguing about people Margaret MADE UP IN HER HEAD?”

 

 

Margaret, do you have any upcoming events or signings where fans could meet you in person?

I don’t have anything set up currently, but events often pop up. I put them on my website.

 

 

Thanks for being my guest today. Good luck with the release of the paperback edition and all things in your future.

You’re welcome! Thanks for having me!