Today @ Colorado State has been replaced by SOURCE. This site exists as an archive of Today @ Colorado State stories between January 1, 2009 and September 8, 2014.


From civil engineer to literary Renaissance man

September 22, 2011
by Beth Etter (M.A. '03)

Novel writing keeps the blood flowing

“Writing has turned into half of a career,” says Todd Shimoda (B.S. ’77, M.S. ’91). With two degrees from CSU – a bachelor’s in civil engineering and master’s in technical communication – and a Ph.D. in science and math education from UC Berkeley, Shimoda has been an engineer, technical writer, professor, researcher, web designer, and programmer. But it’s the novelist part of his resume that keeps his blood flowing.

“While I was a student, I had to take a humanities course. I liked reading, so I took a creative writing class. I got an A in it, and that encouraged me to go on,” Shimoda says.

While working as an engineer, Shimoda kept writing and got one of his stories published. “I quit my job and wrote a novel. I actually wrote four before I got one published,” he says.

Opening literary doors in Hawaii

For the past seven years, Shimoda and his wife have lived in Kauai, Hawaii, where he has been writing novels that either take place in Japan or focus on Japanese Americans. “I’m third generation Japanese American,” he says. “I didn’t know much about Japan until I lived there. I was intrigued by Japanese literature and that inspired me to learn more.”

Shimoda was honored with the Elliott Cades Award for Literature by the Hawaii Literary Arts Council in May 2011 for his work as an established artist. Shimoda’s three novels - Oh! A Mystery of “Mono no Aware,” The Fourth Treasure, and 365 Views of Mt. Fuji, explore the boundaries of human existence primarily through Japanese aesthetics and psychology.

In addition to writing about Japan, Shimoda reviews Japanese literature and nonfiction for the Asian Review of Books.

To succeed at writing, write

“To be a writer, doing any kind of writing is good. You follow patterns depending on the genre, but writing is writing as far as the actual structure,” he says.

And the similarities between writing and engineering? “Any time you’re trying to solve a problem, whether in engineering or in writing a novel, there’s a process to follow and there are standard patterns,” he says. “Both also require creativity and imagination.”