Louis Sachar (pronounced Sacker) was born in New York in 1954, moving to California with his family at the age of 9. His father sold Italian shoes, perhaps explaining Stanley’s father’s obsession with shoes in Holes. He went to college in Ohio, but moved back to California after his father died in order to be close to his mother. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in economics.
During his time at UC Berkeley, Louis helped out at a local school called Hillside to earn extra credits. After graduating he began working on his first book, Sideways Stories from Wayside School, basing some of the characters and events on his experiences at Hillside. The book, which would later become a series, is set in a school accidentally built sideways – thirty storeys tall with only one class on each floor. While writing the book he worked at a sweater factory, but he was fired after a year and decided to attend law school. During this time Sideways Stories from Wayside School was accepted by a publisher. It was not widely distributed, but Louis was beginning to gather young fans.
In 1980 Louis graduated from Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco and passed his bar exam. He continued to write children’s books while working part-time, until he was able to concentrate solely on writing.
In 1985 Louis married Carla, a counsellor at an elementary school and the inspiration for the counsellor in Louis’s book There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom. In 1987 their daughter, Sherre, was born. They live in Texas.
Holes is Louis Sachar's most ambitious and popular book yet, selling over five million copies and winning several awards, including the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature (1998) and the prestigious Newberry Medal (1999). Holes was made into a film in 2003; Louis wrote the screenplay and even had a guest appearance in the movie.
Louis found it difficult to return to writing after the whirlwind of Hollywood. It was eight years before he published another book, Small Steps, which features some of the characters from Holes. He says that he writes for two hours every day, and that he finds it impossible to talk about a novel until it is written. So far he has published 21 books for children. His editor, Frances Foster, has compared his success to Roald Dahl’s: “Louis was discovered by the children who loved his books, like the Wayside stories. There are books which adults discover and push onto kids—this was completely the other way around.”
A RandomBooks video interview with Louis Sachar: