Monday, September 30, 2013

Interview with Laura Joh Rowland

Last week I read Laura Joh Rowland's newest novel featuring her 18th century samurai detective, Sano Ichiro. It was my first time reading Rowland and I enjoyed this unusual historical mystery. I'm thrilled to share this interview with Rowland, who talks about her writing, this series, and what she does when not reading. Be sure to enter the giveaway for a copy of The Shogun's Daughter!

What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction?

It was a short story about a group of idealistic hippies who go into a forest to found a utopian commune. Lightning strikes, a tree falls on the leaders head, and goodbye commune. (This was when I was in high school, in the 1970’s.)

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?

I go for a walk every morning and figure out what I’m going to write that day. Thinking is easier when my body is moving. When I get home, I have 5-6 pages planned out.

Was The Shogun’s Daughter the original title of your book?

Yes. It fit the story and my editor and I both liked it.

As you were writing The Shogun’s Daughter, was there a particular scene or character that surprised you?

I was surprised by how the climax went down. I write a fairly detailed synopsis of each novel before I start writing it, but unexpected things always happen. I didn’t know how big a risk Sano would take during his final confrontation with the killer. I think he and I were both astounded by the consequences.

This is your 17th novel featuring samurai 'detective' Sano Ichiro. How has the experience of 'being' with Sano this long been? Did you expect to write this many books about him?

Sano and I have been together so long, he and his family and friends and enemies are like real people to me. I never expected to write so many books about him. When I wrote the first book (Shinju), I was focused on finishing and selling it. I had no idea that it would be a series. Fortunately, I kept Sano alive at the end, so he could go on to solve more mysteries.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

I paint. I’m illustrating a series of tarot cards set in New Orleans. It’s a homage to the city I lived in and loved for many years.

Read any good books recently?

Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 by Elizabeth Winder. It’s about Sylvia Plath’s month as a guest editor at Mademoiselle magazine, a famous episode in the life of the iconic poet. I’ve been a Sylvia Plath buff for a long time. She’s an inspiration as well as a cautionary tale for writers. I’m fascinated by the way that her intense need to create clashed with her emotional demons. This book adds some enlightening new details to the picture.

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My thanks to Ms. Rowland for her time and thoughtful answers. To learn more about her and her books, check out her website and connect with her on Facebook.


I'm thrilled to offer a copy of The Shogun’s Daughter to one lucky reader! To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US readers only, ends 10/4.

1 comment :

  1. I write great blog posts when I walk in the morning but can never remember them when I get home. I'm impressed that she can plan her writing that way!