Dale was born in Hilo, Hawaii, on December 1, 1946. His family is originally from Oshima Island. 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.
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” is 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 mystery trilogy.
Dale knew that he wanted to write when I was in the third grade because he would take the spelling words that they were supposed to learn every week and use them in a story. Since the words were chosen at random, this wasn’t always easy. The teacher started reading these stories to the class and he got the pleasure when the class liked the stories. Dale has always written something ever since then.
Dale’s favourite author is Yasunari Kawabata because he's obscure enough to impress eggheads and he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Also, he wrote A Thousand Cranes, Snow Country and Master of Go, three of Dale’s all-time favorite books and lastly, Yasunari Kawabata’s a good read.
Most of his work has been non-fiction, and he has three 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. Dale has also served as President of a software company and Parts Marketing Manager for Yamaha motorcycles. Currently he is Director of Information Technology for Nissan Motor Corp. in U.S.A.
Dale has been married for almost 30 years, and he, his wife Sharon, and their Labrador Retriever, Darby, live in Los Angeles, California.