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- Dale Furutani
Dale Furutani is a third generation Japanese American (a Sansei). He is the first Asian American to win major mystery writing awards.
He was born in Hilo, Hawaii, on December 1, 1946.
His family is originally from Suo-Oshima Island, which is south of Hiroshima in the Sea of Japan. His grandfather and grandmother came to Hawaii in 1896 to work on the sugar plantations as indentured servants, but his grandfather soon escaped his contract and eventually became a successful fisherman until his fishing boat was taken from him during World War II. The government decided that since his fishing boat had a radio, he might be a spy!
Dale's mother was at Pearl Harbor during the infamous attack on December 7, 1941. She was at a church camp over the harbor, and could see the attack unfold below her. During the war she worked for the American Red Cross in Honolulu.
When he was five, Dale was adopted by John Flanagan and moved to California. There he met with racial prejudice for the first time, as he was virtually the only Asian in his school.
Dale went to California State University, Long Beach, where he received a degree in Creative Writing, and UCLA, where he received an MBA in Marketing and Information Systems. He worked his way through undergraduate school writing articles and serving as a contributing editor for various magazines.
Dale started writing book-length fiction in 1993, and Death in Little Tokyo was his first novel. It was nominated for an Agatha award, an Anthony Award and a Macavity award as Best First Mystery. It won both the Anthony and the Macavity, making Dale the first Asian American to ever win a major mystery award. His second Ken Tanaka mystery novel, The Toyotomi Blades, appeared in October, 1997. In 1998, he started a new historical series with Death at the Crossroads, the first book in a samurai mystery trilogy. Jade Palace Vendetta and Kill the Shogun, complete the trilogy. He penned a fourth samurai book to satisfy readers about events after the trilogy, titled The Ronin Returns. He is also the author of a pastiche set in Meiji era Japan, The Curious Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in Japan, where each mystery has a unique Japanese twist to the solution.
He has had three non-fiction computer books and over 250 articles published. He has won prizes for his poetry and had a one-act play produced while he was in college. His short stories have appeared in various collections.
Dale was honored as one of the "50 Faces of Diversity" by the City of Los Angeles, and large banners with his face were placed in many places in the city, including city streets and at LAX airport.
He has spoken three times in the U.S. Library of Congress (as both a mystery and Asian American author), and at numerous universities and festivals, including the L.A. Times Festival of Books and other festivals in the US and in Italy.
Dale is retired now, but he owned a small consulting company that specialized in the automotive industry. Nissan, Subaru, J.D. Power and Associates, Land Rover North America, Xerox, Oracle, G.E., Cap-Gemini and Isuzu were among his many clients. He was also the President of a software company, Parts Marketing Manager for Yamaha motorcycles, Director of Information Technology for Nissan Motor Corp. U.S.A., and CIO for a large automotive web company.
Dale has made over 30 trips to Japan, living there a number of times for periods spanning a few weeks to three years. In the last decade, he and his wife have spent considerable time in Europe, using Paris as their home base.
Dale has been married for over 50 years. Besides spending 25% of their time in Europe, Dale and his wife Sharon live in Washington state and they also enjoy visiting Canada.
Winning awards and critical acclaim, his books have been translated into several languages. They have appeared on Bestseller Lists in the United States and he is a Bestseller in France. He was honored when his samurai trilogy was included in "Le Grande Detectives" series, with six other masters of the genre. His writing has been the topic of several academic articles, a Masters thesis, and at least two Doctoral theses. His books have also been used in University level classes, especially Death in Little Tokyo, which touches on the Japanese American camp experience in WWII.
In a typical observation, Dale said: "My writing career has exceeded all my expectations. Of course, when I started, I had very low expectations."