BY STEFANI DIAS Californian assistant lifestyles editor email@example.com
Many people say Bakersfield is a stop along the way on their travels, so it should be no surprise that extends to writers. Margaret Dilloway, author of the new book "The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns," will swing into town Thursday for a reading and book signing.
But Dilloway, who broke out with her debut novel "How to Be an American Housewife" in 2010, is not a complete stranger to Bakersfield. The San Diego resident has passed through before while on a camping trip to the Sequoias, and she cultivated local talent -- well-known rose hybridizer James Sproul -- for research into her latest work about a teacher/amateur rose breeder.
What: Reading and book signing with author of "The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns"
When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Russo's Books, 9000 Ming Ave., Suite I-4
"There was a rose grower forum on the Internet. I asked if anyone would be interested in helping me with research for a book. He was one of the first to respond."
The rose featured in the book, hulthemia, is one that Dilloway said Sproul has worked with extensively, recently bringing a hardy version to the marketplace. (Repeated attempts to reach Sproul were unsuccessful.)
"They've been trying to perfect that rose for 200 years to be consumer-friendly," Dilloway said. "It has to regrow, be easy to grow."
Along with researching roses, Dilloway noted trends among the growers as well.
"When I was looking into people who do this type of breeding, a lot of them are retired engineers and scientists. They have to be methodical. It was one reason I made my character a biology teacher."
Along with work and roses, the book's protagonist, Gal Garner, struggles with kidney disease. Dilloway said her sister-in-law, Deborah, who passed away last year from kidney complications, helped her understand how patients with long-term illnesses cope.
"Struggling to be happy, if they have something heavy weighing on them, how can you be happy when you have this terminal chronic disease?"
Many find solace in remaining active. Dilloway's sister-in-law, who had three kidney transplants and was on dialysis for many years, also held a full-time job, volunteered for a baseball team and was awarded patient of the month at her clinic.
"People may wonder how the character can do so much, but that's how a lot of people with this chronic disease are."
Having also lost her mother to heart disease, Dilloway exorcised some of her worries delving into the book, a practice she said is common for her.
"I think I always write about things that trouble me, that I struggle with, that I'm not thinking about consciously at the time."
As cathartic as the writing of the book was, the author believes readers will benefit as well.
"This book is for everybody who wants to read a good story that helps them answer the questions they have, who have struggled with something that they have no control over and to get over that."
Dilloway said she is looking forward to next week's event at Russo's, and encourages readers to swing by.
"They should come out and hear me talk, because I like meeting people and reading aloud. It's an hour of entertainment," she said.