Housekeeping is not fun and requires a ton of effort, but would it be easier to keep up with it if we had a familiar voice guiding us? That is exactly what the authors of The Way of the Househusband: The Gangster’s Guide to Housekeeping, Laurie Ulster and Victoria Rosenthal, had in mind while working on this helpful book of tips and tricks. You will not only find advice on how to organize your household, clean, and keep on top of shopping but you will also get to learn 25 Japan-inspired recipes that even Tatsu would approve! Anime Corner got a chance to talk to Laurie and Victoria ahead of the book’s release on July 25 and here is what we learned!
Q: How did the idea for The Way of the Househusband: The Gangster’s Guide to Housekeeping come to life?
Victoria: I was contacted by an editor at VIZ, Amanda, who I’ve actually previously worked with on other projects, and she mentioned that they had a Way of the Househusband possible product coming out. I was super excited because it is one of my favorite mangas of the past few years. So to get that opportunity, I was like “Ohh excellent. I’m really good at cooking but housekeeping. I am terrible at so I could definitely come up with the recipes, that’d be no issue.” And I think that is where Laurie got contacted.
Laurie: Yeah, I actually answered a call for writers. So Amanda had posted somewhere in a writers’ group that I’m in, that she was looking for writers who could do tips but with style and through a character’s voice. And so I figured I’d give it a shot but a whole bunch of people applied. I was thrilled to get it, especially once I started reading all of The Way of the Househusband because I thought “This is a voice you can have so much fun with.” And nobody likes housekeeping, so the idea of attacking all of your housekeeping tasks with vim and vigor seemed very appealing and like a fun way to approach all those things.
Q: How useful would you say this guide like this is to the “current younger” generation or anyone who needs help with “adulting” things?
Victoria: I mean, even for myself, I kind of wish I had something that. Once I got into adulthood, it was like “ohh I have to do all this stuff on my own.” It was kind of like piecemealing and figuring it out. To be able to connect to a series that I really enjoy and be like: “Oh, housekeeping, oh, they have information about how to do this” – that is something I wish I had.
Laurie: Yeah. And I also think like there, I know there are 1,000,000 TikTok videos out there, but they’re all trying to sell products as opposed to teaching you how to do something and then this is done through such great vivid characters that I think it makes it easier to swallow if you know what I mean.
Q: Since you are both familiar with the manga, do you have a favorite Tatsu moment?
Victoria: I love how a lot of the stories are nice and short and to the point. But the one that always stands out to me is from Chapter 51, where Tatsu and the cafe owner go and do research on different foods. They go to a new turf and see what they’re doing and they go test out sweets and then Tatsu comes up with this wonderful dish that is the honey lemon chicken sandwich (the recipe is in the book) and they have this moment of just taking a bite of food and being teleported back in time. That is my biggest goal with food and then seeing it drawn out like trying to take someone back to a vivid memory through food is just so touching.
Laurie: And from I don’t have anything specific like that. That’s great, by the way, Vic. But I think for me it was more that every time he tried to approach a group, they would be afraid of him, and then he would win them over. Because he would be so dedicated to the thing he was learning, be it flower arranging or whatever, he was so determined to be good at it that they would have to. They would slowly shed their vision of what they thought he was bringing, and that to me was a really entertaining side of things.
Q: What was the most challenging part of writing The Gangster’s Guide to Housekeeping?
Laurie: I did a lot of research for those tips and you have to find multiple sources because every person can just post like “DO THIS” and then you try it and it doesn’t work. So it was definitely that. In journalism, you get multiple sources that tell you the same thing
Victoria: You know, for me, there is a recipe in there to make your own homemade udon and this was a first-time experience for me. So it was several attempts of making it. I think my end result was really tasty and it was a really fun activity to do. But just getting the frozen pre-done stuff is always good in a pinch. It was a nice like fun challenge to actually say “I’m going to make my own noodles, I’m going to figure out how to do this,” but definitely was one that took a few attempts until it was in a good spot.
Q: Stephanie Kao chose the illustrations for the book: were they chosen after the text was written, or what was the text based around them? How does the process work?
Laurie: I believe that it was after, I didn’t see it beforehand. Obviously, I read all the material and used those as a guide, but the whole layout was done afterward.
Q: Victoria, as you have quite a few cookbooks centered around different franchises. In what way, if any, was The Way of the Househusband different?
Victoria: I mean, for this one, definitely the difference between my other projects was not having to do the photography and because the drawings are so like in the manga themselves, they’re really nice to use for reference. And it was just trying to make sure with the written effects that the person can visualize what the end result should be without having an actual picture of the food but the actual manga drawing being there instead. So it was a little less work for me because I wasn’t having to set up a bunch of photo shoots. But it was a different challenge. In terms of making sure the writing was clear enough without the visual 1:1 that people look for.
Q: Is there something in the book that you wish you had included but simply didn’t have the chance to because of the limitations?
Victoria: There was a recipe that I actually was working on. It was the bread in the rice cooker recipe and I tried several times but could not do it. The bread was dense every time and I just kept doing it but then I had to accept that this one was not worth it. It is a recipe that I probably should just continue to attempt. Maybe one day I’ll figure out the perfect bread recipe for a rice cooker, but during the time of the project it just never worked out.
Q: And what about you Laurie? Any tips you wish you had included in The Gangster’s Guide to Housekeeping?
Laurie: Well, there was one I struggled with. I don’t have a lot of experience doing crafty things, I’m not very good at it. One of the things that we were trying to put in it was how to make a kerchief that would go around a dog’s neck. And I wrote a really fun introduction I thought but every time I got to the instructions there was some tricky part like “Then flip it through” and it just never fully made sense. I remember how we went back and forth a few times and they were asking “Well, can you find something? Our expert says this won’t work” and then I finally, eventually, I gave up. I was sad because I love the idea of Tatsu looking after someone’s dog and then returning the dog with a nice scarf.
Q: Is there something in the book that you don’t plan on ever repeating again or following through?
Victoria: All these recipes I’ve at least made once again, so I’ve not been disappointed, but I guess with the mention of the udon earlier I have to be in a very particular mood to decide to make my own udon because the frozen udon is very easy for me to pick up. I could use it in a pinch instead of having to plan a day’s worth of activity to make it.
Laurie: Yeah, I think I think for me the one thing we I wrote a lot about was how to deal with insects and pests. My way of dealing with insects and pests in my house is calling my husband in to deal with them. So that isn’t something I’ll be experimenting with a lot myself.
Q: How long did this process of creating The Gangster’s Guide to Housekeeping take? How much time passed between the work you did and the publication?
Victoria: For me, I was. I think I was done in May of 2022, so it has been a bit. It was in between two projects, and I was excited because I found a way to fit it in because it was an all-time favorite series!
Laurie: I think my writing took maybe four or five weeks – I did around 70 tips. I finished around a year ago. I remember because I got two offers on the same day. I got offered two books with a very similar timeline and I called a friend who’s a writer and asked “How do I say yes to both. I don’t want to give up either when they both sound so great” and so he gave me a timeline to pitch. I’m sending him a copy of both books because he really talked me through it: he’s done a lot because I didn’t want to give it up.
Q: For readers who are curious about getting into this industry: how did you end up here? What kind of things did you do in the past?
Laurie: I started writing when I was a kid (and wrote a(n unpublished) novel about an owl!)… I started writing professionally (getting paid for it) when I was at MTV in the ’90s (host copy for a game show, VJ copy) and then started doing website pieces and interviews in 2013. The first book I co-wrote is called What to Watch When: 1,000 TV Shows for Every Mood and Moment, which came out in October of 2020.
Victoria: My adventures in cooking started early in my life learning many different recipes from my family. When I moved down to Texas I started teaching myself more recipes and about many different ingredients. I wanted to motivate my friends to start cooking as much as I was. I started a generic food blog in 2011 of my favorite recipes written out step by step, but that only lasted about three months before I got bored. I couldn’t motivate myself to write the posts every week. Fast forward a year, I decided to give the food blog another shot but this time to combine my love of food and video games. I was finally able to combine my two loves with my blog Pixelated Provisions. My goal with Pixelated Provisions is to inspire my fellow gamers to get in the kitchen and make delicious meals from the games they love playing. Since then I’ve continued posting on my blog and have had the opportunity to work on several official cookbooks.
Q: Have you watched the anime adaptation of The Way of the Househusband that is streaming on Netflix?
Victoria: I have and that was how I got my husband to finally read the manga! People say that it’s not animated, it’s just the manga being read to you. And I love it. It gets the jokes across though I enjoy it.
Laurie: I have not seen it, so I apologize for that
Q: No worries, as Victoria said, it’s a bit different than what traditional anime fans are used to. Speaking of fans, is there anything you would like to say to people who will be buying and reading the book?
Laurie: I’m just excited for people to see it as we did it a while back now. I’m very curious to see what people think.
Victoria: Yeah, yeah, I’m excited to see some of the recipes that people decide to cook. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it in one go, cooking in general is a journey. And it takes a while sometimes to learn things, but don’t be discouraged. Continue until you figure it out – it’ll be delicious in the end.
Laurie: And I hope whatever people tried, like the recipes or the tips, that they’ll post on socials! Anything that they’ve tried from The Gangster’s Guide to Housekeeping, we’d love to see.
Laurie Ulster is a New York-based writer and copy editor as well as TV and digital producer. Check out her official website for more information!
Victoria Rosenthal is a passionate chef, gamer and writer, known for her blog Pixelated Provisions, which is aimed at bringing food from video games to life.
The Way of the Househusband: The Gangster’s Guide to Housekeeping will be out on July 25., courtesy of VIZ Media.
© Kousuke Oono 2018/ SHINCHOSHA Publishing Co., Ltd.