Louisa lives with her husband in Vancouver, Canada, and recently left teaching to spend more time seeing the world, writing YA fiction, painting and illustrating.
Raised in New Jersey and on Cape Cod, she also lived in Japan for four years, first as an undergraduate student and then while completing her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology.
Her lifelong interest in foreign languages, cultures, social justice and history is reflected in the stories she tells.
Growing up in Hackensack, New Jersey, I loved doing creative things: writing short stories, painting and drawing, expressing myself through gymnastics and dance. Making art was a need like breathing, but I was academically minded too, so I completed a Ph.D. (Columbia University) in cultural anthropology. . . which can happen when you can’t put a good book down.
On the art side, I kept painting, including illustrating my own picture books. From writing and illustrating picture books (unpublished), I found my way to the not-so-distant shores of young adult fiction.
After taking courses in The Writing and Publishing Program at Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, Canada), I wrote my first manuscript, THE RED PRINCE, to answer a few burning questions: What if Alexei Romanov, Russia’s deposed crown prince, really had survived his family’s execution in 1918? Where would he have hidden? What would he have done? What does it feel like to have to become someone completely different?
Through fiction writing a miracle of alchemy occurred. The two halves of my existence were drawn together: the intuitive, creative side and the methodical, academic one, which has always loved foreign cultures, languages and history.
Writing my first novel made me want to write another, so I wrote PRICELESS, the story of a seventeen-year-old Syrian girl named Noor, who finds herself in Boston dealing with the trauma of her country’s implosion, while solving America’s biggest art heist.
I was inspired to write this novel by what I saw happening in the news: the violence raging in Syria as the country’s president bombed and massacred his own people. I wanted to tell a story that dealt with this violence, while depicting my Syrian main character as someone with interests and dreams that lay outside it. I didn’t want to invoke stereotypes. My Middle Eastern characters, like my real-life Syrian and Iranian friends, aren’t focused on religion or dealing with the issue of whether to wear the hijab. Noor is more interested in becoming a professional artist and she happens to be a pretty amazing crime sleuth!
My third novel, FIRE AND SKY, is set in the Ottoman Empire in 1922 at the end of the Greek-Turkish War. Sixteen-year-old Elisavet, who’s ethnically Greek, and her best friend Sevi, who’s Turkish, have their loyalty to each other tested, as their beloved city of Smyrna burns. For more on this story, please see “Fire and Sky” on this Website.