Laila El-Sissi was born in Alexandria, Egypt, to an upper class family. She is one of six children. Her father was an architect who chose to educate his older daughters at a prestigious French convent school, although he was an observant Muslim.
As a teenager, El-Sissi hoped to pursue a career in journalism. However, she and her older sister, Rawiya, were promised to older men in arranged marriages at a young age. Through perseverance and fortitude, they eventually divorced their husbands and escaped the abusers within their family, fleeing the country of their birth.
El-Sissi moved first to Europe, then Canada, and finally settled in the United States with her second husband. She has two sons and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area where she works for a semiconductor company.
Several years ago, shortly after her sister Rawiya’s death, El-Sissi found her early interest in writing reawakened and began working on her memoir. This is her first book. It won Millennium Magazine’s 2010 writing contest, and Laila won a full stipend at Arts Residency Cairo. She has done numerous readings at the Golden Gate Breakfast Club and was a panelist at “Women in the Middle East and the Current Changes in Egypt,” at the Common Wealth Middle East Forum in San Francisco in 2011. The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco is eager to have her speak at their series once the book is published. She is an active member of the California Writer’s Club, shewrites.com, and redroom.com.