Turiya was born and raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She loves to describe her neighborhood as “the other Atlantic City,” because it was not the casino-resort mecca most people know today. It was a place with a “cozy, down-home feeling” as she describes in her book, Growing Up in the Other Atlantic City: Wash’s and the Northside. Like most members of her large family, she grew up working at Wash’s, the family’s restaurant business, which celebrated 75 years before it closed in 2013. She graduated from Atlantic City High School as Senior Class President in 1972 (nee, Lillian D. Thomas).
After graduating from Hiram College with a B.A. in the Sociology of Communications, Turiya worked briefly as a copy editor at the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Washington Post newspapers. She realized how much she loved teaching while home-schooling her own daughters and went on to obtain a Master’s in Education in 1996. As a certified English teacher in the state of Maryland, she taught at public, private and alternative schools in the Washington, D.C.- suburban Maryland area. Later, she taught English at Prince George’s and Northern Virginia Community College but left teaching to pursue a full-time writer’s life. In 2008, Turiya and Hassan relocated back to her hometown of Atlantic City, New Jersey. They have five grown daughters.
In 2010, after self-publishing Growing Up in the Other Atlantic City, Turiya garnered the attention of HBO and appeared on two (2) of its documentaries in association with the Boardwalk Empire series. Today, she enjoys teaching English at Atlantic Cape Community College, reciting her poetry and writing an online column for acweekly.com, called what else? The Other Atlantic City.