Nora Johnson was born in Hollywood and grew up in Hollywood and Manhattan. She started writing at the age of ten, on her child’s Royal - and has worked up, many years later, to a fat-back Dell computer.When it breaks down, she is looking forward to owning a laptop.
Nora was educated at the Brearley School in New York, Abbot Academy in Massachusetts, and Smith College – places where, she has been told, she learned nothing about life. She does tend to keep close to home in her books, sometimes venturing to the West Coast, even though her father, the late screenwriter Nunnally Johnson, told her she knew nothing about Hollywood and she ought to stick to what she did know. She spent two years in Saudi Arabia at an oil camp, but writes about it carefully because she doesn’t know anything about oil geology.
Nora writes all the time, on any available desk or table anywhere she can, often by hand – with a Precise V7 fine (black) on a wide-spaced white pad. She needs a place where she can think, and often works at the New York Society Library or else Starbucks, whose background noise is somehow soothing. Afterwards she takes the results home and puts them on the computer to be edited. Then she prints another draft, and so on till it’s as good as it can get.
Nora has published seven novels, two nonfiction books and two memoirs, and seventeen short stories in The New Yorker, McCall’s, Atlantic Monthly, Confrontation and others. She has written fifty-two nonfiction articles for Atlantic Monthly, Cosmopolitan, among others, essays for The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, and many book reviews for The New York Times Book Review. She has written two unproduced movie scripts and col-laborated on another (The World of Henry Orient) which was made from the first novel she ever wrote in 1956. Two of her books (You Can Go Home Again, The Two of Us) were on The New York Times Best Books of the Year lists, and one of her short stories ("The Jungle of Injustice") won an O’Henry Award in 1981. Her most recent publication is Coast to Coast, (2004), a memoir of her itinerant childhood. She is presently (2010) completing a novel about life in New York in the Nineteen Fifties.