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Gloria  Norris

Gloria Norris

Author of KooKooLand

Gloria Norris

Author of KooKooLand


Gloria Norris’s heartbreaking and hilarious memoir, KooKooLand, was named a best book of the year by NPR.  Young Gloria—described by famed author Wally Lamb as part Scout Finch, part Huck Finn—grew up in a ramshackle housing project in Manchester, New Hampshire. Her unconventional childhood was spent accompanying her Greek father to barrooms, racetracks and rendezvous with petty criminals. She learned how to fire a gun by shooting rats at the dump. All the while Gloria tried to make sense of the racism, anti-Semitism and misogyny that was all around her. Gloria’s captivating story, told with no-holds-barred honesty, provides a blueprint for transcending not only economic hardship but ideological hardship as well. With grit and grace, Gloria forged her own identity, becoming the first in her family to attend college. She received a scholarship to Bennington College—at the time the most expensive school in the country—and graduated from Sarah Lawrence with a degree in film and creative writing. 

Gloria’s first job was co-writing a screenplay for acclaimed filmmaker Brian De Palma, director of such films as Scarface and Mission Impossible. She subsequently worked as an assistant to director Martin Scorsese on Raging Bull, starring Robert De Niro in his Academy Award-winning performance. She also worked as Woody Allen’s assistant on Stardust Memories, A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy and Zelig. Woody Allen’s producers optioned Gloria’s screenplay The Uncle Bob Show and brought her out to Los Angeles to develop it. Since relocating to California, she has worked as a screenwriter and script doctor for most of the major studios, with assignments that have taken her from Paris to the Amazon. She produced the indie comedy, Easy, which screened at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival and on Showtime, and co-wrote and produced The Moment, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. She is currently developing KooKooLand as a limited television series.

Some of the issues Gloria has spoken passionately about include domestic violence, mental health issues, the prescription drug epidemic, white working class despair, and the salvation that education provides for kids like her. Oprah’s magazine called KooKooLand ‘electrifying,’ and the very same can be said of Gloria’s extraordinary talks.

Speaker Videos

Welcome to KooKooLand

Not My Father’s Daughter

Speech Topics

Welcome to KooKooLand: My Unlikely Journey from a Housing Project to Hollywood

Hollywood filmmaker and acclaimed author of KooKooLand, Gloria Norris has traversed a rocky road to success.  Raised in a New Hampshire housing project, the daughter of a factory worker mother and a violent, petty criminal father, Gloria ended up graduating from tony Sarah Lawrence College, writing and producing films, and penning a true crime memoir that Oprah’s magazine called “electrifying.” Gloria recounts her harrowing life’s journey with disarming humor and no-holds-barred honesty.

Not My Father’s Daughter: Rejecting the Racism & Anti-Semitism of My KooKooLand Childhood

Gloria Norris grew up in a white working class home ruled by her petty criminal father, a home where the N word was ubiquitous and the Holocaust was denied. In this talk Gloria recounts how she broke free of this poisonous ideology and found happiness married to a nice Jewish boy.

No Good Choice: The Truth About Domestic Violence Shown in KooKooLand

It has been well documented that women in abusive relationships are in the greatest danger when they leave their abusers. But staying is also fraught with peril. In this global epidemic there are no good choices—just less bad ones. Through the interlocking stories of two women she wrote about in her book KooKooLand, an NPR ‘great read,’ Gloria Norris, daughter of one of these women, digs deep into this complex issue.

Trigger Warning: The Intersection of Gun Violence & Mental Health in KooKooLand

Gloria Norris grew up in a home in which mental illness and gun violence were inextricably linked.  Delving deeper into territory she covered in her gripping memoir, KooKooLand, and in her chilling essay for Marie Claire, she gives a personal, nuanced perspective on what has become a deeply polemical issue.

Most Likely to Fail: How Education Helped Me Beat the Odds & Triumph Over My KooKooLand Upbringing

When Gloria Norris was growing up in the Elmwood Gardens housing project in Manchester, NH, being a ‘project kid’ was a stigma that set her up for failure—with her teachers, her classmates’ parents and even cashiers at the local market where she was made to empty her pockets to prove she wasn’t a thief.  But, through a fierce determination to excel in school, Gloria found a way out.

Pain & Suffering in KooKooLand: How My Elderly Parents Started Dealing Opioids & Became the Vanguard of an Epidemic

Author Gloria Norris witnessed the beginnings of the opioid epidemic in New Hampshire firsthand. In the 1990’s, her elderly parents began selling pain pills they obtained from their doctors, turning their increasingly desperate customers into addicts and putting themselves in jeopardy as well.  Gloria’s story of being caught between family loyalty and moral outrage is powerful and timely.