Gail Lukasik

Award-winning mystery novelist, poet, and memoirist, Gail Lukasik has an intrepid and unflinching approach to her life and her writing. She believes writing needs to strike at the heart of human experience, uncovering what lies hidden or buried.

Never able to solve a family mystery involving her maternal grandfather, Azemar Frederic of New Orleans, Gail embarked on a quest to find information about her illusive grandfather. What she discovered changed everything she knew about herself and her family, shaking her identity to the core. Rather than shying away from her discovery, she appeared on the national television show, PBS’ Genealogy Roadshow, and revealed to 1.5 million people that her mother had passed for white. Three days later the family her mother never knew found Gail.

White Like Her: My Family’s Story is Race and Racial Passing is the story of her mother’s passing, her struggle with the shame of mother’s choice, and her subsequent journey of self-discovery and redemption. Gail’s “lost” cousin Stephanie Frederic, President of FGW Productions, Los Angeles, is planning on making a documentary about the book.

Of White Like Her, Kenyatta D. Berry, host of PBS’ Genealogy Roadshow said, “Important in helping us understand America’s complex racial history . . . Adds to the ongoing conversation about race and racial identity in America because it looks at the ramifications of institutionalized racialism and racial passing through one family’s story.”

Gail began her writing career as a poet and was awarded an Illinois Arts Council award for her poem, “In Country.” After earning her Ph.D. in English with a specialization in creative writing from the University of Illinois-Chicago, she taught on the university level. Her many years of teaching segued into a thriving speaking career. Gail was a guest on over 18 radio programs broadcast in multiple listening areas, including WBEZ-Chicago NPR, Breakfast with Books-Cyrus Webb, and Suspense Magazine Radio. Her ten years of speaking engagements include The Chicago Art Institute, American Association of University Women, Swedish American Museum-Chicago, Nineteenth Century Charitable Association, Chicago Botanic Garden, University of Illinois-Chicago, and the Art Institutes of Illinois. 

Gail has also written multiple mystery novels. Her articles have been published in numerous journals and magazines, including American Journal of Nursing, Ars Medica, The Writer Magazine, and Mystery Readers International Journal. Her work has been anthologized in Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer’s Journey, Reflections on Nursing: 80 Stories on the Art and Science of Nursing, and Ms. Magazine.

Once a member of the Cleveland Civic Ballet Company, she credits her aesthetic sensibility, her stage presence, and her writerly discipline to her training as a classical ballerina.