Author Spotlight: Louisa Onomé

Louisa Onomé is a Nigerian-Canadian writer of books for teens. She holds a BA in professional writing from York University and is an all-around cheerleader for diverse works and writers. When she is not writing, her hobbies include picking up languages she may never use, crying over her favorite video games, and perfecting her skincare routine. She currently resides in the Toronto area. Her novel Like Home, is out now!

What is your book about?

Like Home is about a 16-year-old girl who is dealing with change, including the gentrification of her beloved neighborhood. To me, it’s a story about community, friendship, and how gentrification can affect a person on an individual level.

What was your inspiration for Like Home?

My inspiration came from two things: my upbringing just west of Toronto and a Korean drama I watched that help tie the feel of the story up for me. I grew up in a place that was similar but not identical to Ginger East. All my friends lived on the same street as me and we’d hang out all the time, just like the characters in my book. It was honestly such a great time and I’m happy I had those experiences. I was so happy to see them mirrored in the drama ‘Reply 1988,’ which was really the catalyst I needed to start writing. That show had such strong friends-as-family themes and I loved it!

What do you hope readers take from this story?

I hope readers will be able to think a bit more critically about the places we live in. There was a point when I used to be excited about things like new condos or chain coffee shops moving into a neighborhood, but now it makes me stop and think about the people who used to live in the older buildings, or the businesses that used to serve the community. Displacement is a huge issue. But! I also hope readers will be able to have fun in the world of Ginger East.

What got you into writing? What kinds of stories do you enjoy writing most?

I started writing super young because I just enjoyed making things up. This transitioned to writing for fun online and then, eventually, to original fiction. I love writing stories where the characters jump off the page. Characterization and voice are really big for me, so oftentimes I can forgive a plot I don’t really like if the characters are well-written and real.

How do you balance writing books with the rest of your life?

I try and block off certain days to do certain things, and so far that’s been working! But when I’m drafting, I tend to have a pretty bad balance.

Any advice for up and coming writers?

Yes, definitely remind yourself why you enjoy writing. There are so many distractions and so many opinions, and at some point, those voices will start to seep in if you let them. Try to stay focused on your why and it becomes a lot easier.