Louise Wareham Leonard grew up in Wellington, Sydney and New York City. She was educated at Columbia College in New York and at Victoria University of Wellington. She is a book reviewer and teacher living between New Zealand and Australia.
Guy Somerset (Dominion Post Books Editor) and Fiona Kidman both described Louise’s first novel Since You Ask (Akashic Books, New York, 2004) as their ‘find of the year’, and it was the basis of Louise’s 2006 nomination for the $65,000 Prize in Modern Letters. It also won the 1999 James Jones Literary Society Award for Best First Novel (from 572 submissions) and is being published by Stolitsa in Moscow.
Since You Ask is seamless and compelling.... there is a core of steel here, and a stubborn wit (comparisons have been made with Catcher in the Rye). What makes the book so persuasive is Betsy's refusal to accede entirely to the category of victim...Since You Ask is a slow-burning work that is impossible to look away from, and Wareham is a writer of undeniable talent and control. - Jolisa Gracewood, The Listener
Louise's second novel Miss Me a Lot of was published by Victoria University Press in the first week of July 2007.
In November 2007 Louise was named as one of six authors on the shortlist for the 2008 Prize in Modern Letters. The biennial Prize is designed to acknowledge and advance the work of emerging writers in New Zealand. The value of the Prize is NZ$65,000.
Regarding the title, it is taken from a line in the second half of the book, when one of Holly's suitors -- a French man -- writes to her "You miss me a lot of." It seemed to me to represent Holly's life in some way. Firstly, that even when trying to connect, even when using the same language, she and others fail to connect. Secondly, that she feels that men never see her as a whole person, but rather as what they want to see. This is partly her fault -- as somewhat of a seducer, she knows how to make others fall in love with her. What she gets wrong is not having others fall in love with her as a whole person. Therefore, they both miss her (as in long for her) but miss her as in misapprehend her. I believe she does this to others in her life also. The book is to some extent about learning how to love by learning how to be a whole person, rather than a collection of qualities or attributes that might seduce others, or be seduced by them. Louise Wareham Leonard