The House Husband’s Way: The Gangster’s Guide to Housekeeping Interview: Victoria Rosenthal & Laurie Ulster

ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy spoke up The House Husband’s Way: The Gangster’s Guide to Housekeeping Authors Victoria Rosenthal and Laurie Ulster on the guide based on the popular manga series by Kousuke Oono. The book is expected to be released on July 25th and is currently available for pre-order.

Spencer Legacy: How did you become aware of Way of the Househusband as a series? Was that recent or are you a longtime fan?

Laurie Ulster: I was new to this when I started writing this book. So the first thing I did was read every single issue. (Laugh). So I got a great crash course in who this character is, what kind of encounters he has, and what expectations people have of him that he undermines. So it was great. I mean, I basically just got into it because it was new.

Victoria Rosenthal: I’m actually a big fan of the Like a Dragon series, and a lot of my friends said, “Oh, you like it, you should really check out this Way of the Househusband manga.” And I thought, “Okay, kind of a similar vibe, ex-yakuza trying to live a normal life.” And I loved it from the moment I picked it up. And then when Viz contacted me about this project, I said, “This is one of my favorite manga of all time!” So I was really excited to be a part of this project.

There are so many tips here in so many different categories. How did you gather all this worldly knowledge? Were many of these tips already known to you both? Did you get this from family or friends?

Laurie Ulster: So initially everything was taken from the manga, so that was the starting point. And then I was given a draft, where I had flexibility, which was, “These are all tips we want to talk about.” And then it was a mixture of, I would say, research, certainly knowledge that you accumulate over a lifetime, and then filtering it through the character’s lens.

Because the subject matter is so broad, how did you decide which aspects of life you wanted to focus more on? Was that also made very clear by the series itself, or were they already there when it was introduced to you?

Laurie Ulster: Yes, it was pretty much in place, but like I said, I went through it and said, “Instead of doing this, can we do this?” Can we change that? There’s more here.” There were things I didn’t know that I had to learn. As if a laundry bar here in New York isn’t something a lot of people don’t use. But they are when you do some research and find out it’s a whole movement! (Laugh). It was just a complete mix-up of the origins of the material, but everything was inspired by the character’s adventures.

The writing style of the book is a lot of fun as it borrows from the world and vocabulary of Way of the Househusband. What was it like writing with that voice?

Victoria Rosenthal: I really enjoyed it. It’s kind of super serious, but kind of in the spirit of Tatsu, who’s like, “That’s the vocabulary. He knows the yakuza terms and stuff.” And he’s like, “No, that makes sense. We’re going to get to the bottom of this person and find out how they cook this recipe.” And it’s like, “W0ait, you just mean, let’s check out someone’s restaurant and go there?” But it’s also casual. It was kind of refreshing to say, “Okay, we’re this tough guy, but we make these wonderfully sweet recipes.” (Laughter).

Laurie Ulster: It was a combination of drama and comedy because everything he says is intense. Each task seems very dramatic, but as Victoria said, with very casual language. So that part was fun. That’s the joy of writing for me – just jumping into someone else’s voice and then getting going. My only trick was to make sure I didn’t keep using the same phrases over and over again.

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As a Canadian, I really appreciated tips on shoveling snow. What specifically inspired the recording of this topic?

Laurie Ulster: That, too, was right out of the pages, but I have to say that I’ve been dying to try the “hairspray on the bottom of the shoes” trick ever since. I live in New York now and this year there was almost no snow. I really want to try it, but unfortunately didn’t have the opportunity.

Yes, that blew my mind.

Laurie Ulster: I’m dying to try it because I’ve always had to backup everything to multiple sources, so it seems to be working, but I just haven’t been able to try it yet.

Victoria, you have also written many cookbooks. How did you get into writing these pop culture based cookbooks?

Victoria Rosenthal: It originally started when I moved to Houston from Chicago. Me and my husband were down here and we said, ‘Well, we don’t actually know anyone. I really should learn to cook.” And some friends were like, “Hey, can you share with us some of the recipes you’ve made?” So I was like, “Okay, here are some recipes. It’s kind of boring.” And I was like, “Sure, I write recipes.” But then I was like, “Wait a minute, all these games I play have food in them. Why not just go ahead and start walking with them?”

Then I started my blog (Pixelated Provisions) – my blog is 11 years old now so I’m already there – I just enjoyed it because linking it to a game I enjoy made writing about food a lot more exciting instead of just saying ‘use this ingredient because I said so’ but ‘use this ingredient because the game dictates it’. So it was nice to finally do something other than games. So making Way of the Househusband was a nice little change from what I was doing before. It’s a similar mindset but a slightly different style. i love doing it My biggest goal is just to get people who aren’t comfortable in the kitchen there, and I figured if it’s a franchise they love, maybe it could resonate with them a little more.

How did you go about choosing the recipes to include in the book? Was it mostly influenced by the manga Way of the Househusband?

Victoria Rosenthal: All of it was definitely influenced by the manga. We wanted to make sure that most of the recipes were only from Tatsu – not some of the others because a lot of it is in his voice. We also have one from Torajirō, so that was nice. But we also couldn’t include any of the recipes because there are some at the end of the manga and we thought we wouldn’t want to cover them again because there is already a written recipe for them. In the end it was just my decision which sounded the tastiest. (Laugh).

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Which passage, recipe, or specific tip from The Way of the Househusband: The Gangster’s Guide to Housekeeping are each of you personally most proud of?

Victoria Rosenthal: For me, it’s definitely the Honey Lemon Chicken Sandwich because when I got my husband to watch the anime, I used this recipe to convince him to read the series. He was like, “Can we do this one day?” That sounds yummy.” And then when I got this project, I thought, “Finally we can do the honey lemon chicken!” (Laughter). So it’s my favorite and one that he asks about regularly.

Laurie Ulster: For me, I think it was… I had a lot of fun making up Halloween costumes. But I also really liked the “Babysitting for Gangsters” section – it was really fun. And there was also a phrase that I’ve been using for years that I was able to incorporate into the book that I was so excited about: “spotting junk sooner” because I feel like that’s a life skill that most people lack. (Laugh). Those were the big ones that were fun to throw in. Folks, you open an envelope and leave it on the table. I say, “No, no, that’s rubbish. It doesn’t have to sit for an hour before it’s trash.”

That’s such a good point.

Victoria Rosenthal: I am definitely guilty of this. I just have a stack of envelopes on my counter from a week ago! (Laugh).

Me too!

Laurie Ulster: The trick is that you just have to go straight to the garbage can.