Q&A With Maggie Tokuda-Hall

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Q&A With Maggie Tokuda-Hall 

Today I have the opportunity to do this Q&A with Maggie Tokuda-Hall who is the author of Also An Octopus, The Mermaid The Witch And The Sea, Squad, Love In The Library, The Siren The Song And The Spy, & The Worst Ronin her recent novel that came out on May 21st which is available to buy now!

Q: Maggie, would you like to give a brief description of each of your books starting with your recent release The Worst Ronin?

A:Gosh, you know I feel like the fine marketing people at each of the publishing houses that I have had the good luck to work with have provided the best language for each of my books but quickly I would say: Also an Octopus is a story about how to tell stories by telling the story of an octopus who wants to fly in a rocket ship, The Mermaid the Witch and the Sea and its sequel The Siren The Song and The Spy are a high fantasy duology about finding your own way (and toppling an empire), Squad is about teenage girls who turn into werewolves at the full moon and eat sex pests, Love in the Library is about my maternal grandparents who met in a Japanese American incarceration camp during WWII, and most recently The Worst Ronin, which is a buddy comedy about two girl samurai who are trying to battle demons, while running away from their own. 

Q: What made you want to write books specifically for young adults & children? Where do your ideas for your stories & characters come from?

A:I was a children’s bookseller for a very long time, and I fell in love with children’s literature, and the possibilities it afforded me to have fascinating and important discussions with kids. I have never looked back. 

Like many writers, my ideas come from all over. A conversation I had with a friend. Something I read in the news. My life. The lives of the people around me. A dream. 

Q: What lessons do you hope young readers learn after reading your books?

A: Oh gosh, I mean I guess I should say firstly I am not as interested in teaching lessons as I am in hopefully enriching kids’ lives. I think the great job of a book for anyone of any age is not necessarily edification. It’s to pose questions you do not know the answers to, to broaden the way you see the world, or to open a door where once there was only the white expanse of wall. And a lot of the time it’s just to like, have a good time. I want you to have a good time when you read my books. I hope that they bring pleasure to reading, that is especially valuable in children as they are learning how to LOVE reading in the first place. 

Q: In today’s world not many kids and young adults are reading as much as they used to & they’re more addicted to their tablets which I find sad. What is your advice to parents to get their children into reading books?

A:To remember that the chief job of a child is not to grow up, but to be a child. They should read for pleasure. Graphic novels are books. TV tie-ins are books. Don’t be judgmental about what your kid wants to read. This is not like nutrition. They are developing the ability to read for fun. Let them have fun, and undoubtedly over time fun will include edifying, enriching books. But while they’re kids just encourage reading and don’t be a jerk about it.

Q: If Hollywood were to get the rights to your work (if they haven’t yet) who would be your dream cast to play the characters you created? The entertainment industry needs new content again. 

A: Again, I have a lot of books at this point. And I tend to write books about people who are not white, and who are not cis, and who are not heterosexual. And so I am sure that for the most part I would need to be a casting director with access to unknown talent in order to cast most of my books. However, I will say, Zendaya’s lipsync as Bruno Mars tells me she could effectively play the masculinity required in the role of Flora/Florian from my Mermaid books.

Q: How does it feel knowing famous publications such as Publishers Weekly, Booklist, & Kirkus Reviews give your books high ratings? It sounds like a dream come true!


A: It is! The Worst Ronin is a book that is so much about no longer needing institutional approval and support, since it is an empty goal that will always favor those with more historical power and will never love you back the way you love it. But also? All that being said I very much enjoy compliments. It means a lot to me every time one of my books is reviewed at all. Many of us struggle to get any coverage for any of our books. So I am thankful and appreciative of the time taken by professionals to read my books and create reviews of them. It’s a thankless job, and an essential one for our industry.