Howard Norman was born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1949 and grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He attended Western Michigan University, the Folklore Institute of Indiana University, and the University of Michigan. His work with the Cree Indians created an interest and he then got a job as a translator of Native American poems and folktales. He put together a collection of his translations in the book, The Wishing Bone Cycle: Narrative Poems of the Swampy Cree Indians, which was named the co-winner of the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award by the Academy of American Poets. With the Help of a Whiting Award, he has also written The Northern Lights as well as Kiss in the Hotel, Joseph Conrad and Other Stories, and The Bird Artist, which was named one of Time Magazine's Best Five Books of 1994 and won the New England Booksellers Association Prize in Fiction.