Please join us in welcoming middle grade and women’s fiction author Margaret Dilloway. She joins us today to talk about her debut children’s novel, Momotaro: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters, releasing on April 5th.
Book Two: Xander and the Dream Thief will be available in April 2017.
Dilloway introduces Xander Miyamoto, a talented cartoon artist and otherwise average eighth-grader living outside San Diego. Motherless Xander comes from an ancient line of Japanese heroes called Momotaro, who travel with a dog, a monkey, and a pheasant. “You’ve seen all the horrible tragedies happening around us,” says Xander’s grandmother Obachan. “That means the oni are very strong indeed. Momotaro is the warrior who keeps them at bay.” These Japanese mythological creatures heighten the tension in this frenetic quest, which is punctuated by Yoon’s manga like illustrations. Right at the start, an earthquake and flood transport the scrawny boy, his dog, Inu, and his athletic white pal, Peyton, into a parallel universe of monsters that rival anything from Greek mythology. As foreshadowed by one of Xander’s own comic books, the boys travel through dangerous lands, facing brutal traps and shape-shifting demons with the help of a prickly girl named Jinx. Xander’s narration effectively balances the inner turmoil facing the main characters against the beasts they battle. Even when Xander sleeps, his subconscious mind becomes the most powerful tool he has. Xander is mixed-race, Japanese and white, an identity that is explored sensitively and forthrightly. A breathless retelling of the Japanese legend of Momotaro, this is an Asian version of Percy Jackson; adventure fans will be waiting for more.”
It’s a retelling of my favorite childhood fairy tale, MOMOTARO. In Japanese legend, the oni are monsters responsible for all the bad things that happen to humanity, including war and disasters. The Momotaro is the warrior who fights them. 12-year-old Xander Miyamoto finds out he’s the next Momotaro when the oni send a massive flood to his house and take his father. With his best friend Peyton and his loyal dog Inu, Xander sets out to rescue his father and save the world.
It’s humorous and full of all sorts of creatures taken from Japanese myth. I’m also really proud that people who don’t usually like middle grade or fantasy have liked this book.
Q: What do your characters have to overcome in this story? What challenge do you set before them?
Xander has to figure out how to use his powers very quickly, which means unlocking his full imaginative potential.
Getting the voice just right took a while, since I’ve never been a 12-year-old boy– but once I did it was a lot of fun to write.