Nicholson, Joy 1966–

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Nicholson, Joy 1966–

PERSONAL: Born 1966, in WI; married. Education: Attended Otis-Parsons Art Institute and Santa Monica College.

ADDRESSES: Home—Silver Lake, CA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, St. Martin's Press, 175 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010.

CAREER: Writer and activist. One Dog at a Time (animal rescue placement group), CA, manager and activist. Has also worked variously as a waiter, dog groomer, bartender, personal assistant, and in sales.


The Tribes of Palos Verdes (novel), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1997.

The Road to Esmeralda (novel), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Also contributor to One Little Ball literary 'zine.

ADAPTATIONS: The Tribes of Palos Verdes was adapted for a feature film.

SIDELIGHTS: Although Joy Nicholson was raised primarily in the wealthy Southern California community of Palos Verdes, she could not rely on her parents and was on her own at the age of seventeen. Though she dropped out of high school, Nicholson briefly attended college. As a young adult, she did not believe she would live past age thirty. Those tumultuous teenage years influenced her first novel, The Tribes of Palos Verdes.

The Tribes of Palos Verdes began as a short story that was published in a zine called One Little Ball. The story, which is primarily about Nicholson's brother who committed suicide, was expanded into a novel with the help of a literary agent. Because Nicholson had to learn the writing process as she went along, the novel went through heavy edits.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Susan Salter Reynolds commended the way Nicholson draws her protagonist, Medina. Reynolds calls the character "a female Holden Caulfield, noble and honest." A critic writing in Publishers Weekly also spoke well of the way Nicholson depicted Medina and Medina's relationship with her twin brother, Jim. The critic wrote, "the book's most moving passages describe the twins' love for each other and for the beach they share."

After the success of The Tribes of Palos Verdes, Nicholson drove to Mexico with her husband and lived on a beach in Yucatán. Her unexpected experiences there led her to write her second book, a thriller titled The Road to Esmeralda. Written in the third person, the novel follows the travels and relationship of struggling novelist Nick Sperry and his girlfriend, Sarah Gustafsson. The couple leaves their home in Los Angeles to travel on an extended vacation to Mexico to escape other Americans. There, they stay at a shady resort run by Karl Von Tollman. Though the couple learns much about themselves, each other, and their relationship, they also encounter corruption and interesting personalities.

A Publishers Weekly contributor found the book to be imperfect, stating that "though chiaroscuro of dark doings juxtaposed against the white heat of the jungle makes for an atmospheric read, the flat ending falls a bit short of the novel's promise." However, in a Los Angeles Times Book Review appraisal, Jonathan Kirsch remarked that Nicholson "writes like a house on fire, and she conjures up the tortured inner lives of her characters as well as the exotic landscape and folkways of the Yucatán, all so rich and strange, with lush virtuosity."

Nicholson told CA: "I think it's also important to point out that I'm a self taught writer—one doesn't need an expensive degree, or even a degree at all, to be a writer—I always try to tell kids that. A huge influence on my life/writing has been the author Peter Singer, and especially his seminal book Animal Liberation. I see writing (and all artistic pursuit) as more of a 'concentrated hobby' than a career for myself."



Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2005, review of The Road to Esmeralda, p. 254.

LA Weekly, June 3-9, 2005, Gendy Alimurung, "Under the Yucatan Sun."

Los Angeles Times, October 17, 1997, Susan Salter Reynolds, "Fear, Loathing, and Adolescent Wisdom in Palos Verdes," p. E8.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, June 5, 2005, Jonathan Kirsch, "West Words; A Paradise That's More of a Paradox," p. R2.

Nation, September 7, 1998, Mindy Pennybacker, review of The Tribes of Palos Verdes, p. 38.

Publishers Weekly, September 8, 1997, review of The Tribes of Palos Verdes, p. 59; April 25, 2005, review of The Road to Esmeralda, p. 37.

ONLINE, (July 3, 2005), Ron Hagen, interview with Nicholson.

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Nicholson, Joy 1966–

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