Nora McInerny is a bit of an open book. The writer and podcast host has been sharing details of her life with readers and listeners since 2014, the year she says she “just kept getting kicked in the face.” That year Nora lost her husband, her father and suffered a miscarriage all in the span of a couple months. As she shares in the video above, Nora hopes her difficult stories help others know they’re not alone in their struggles.

As open as Nora is, TPT producers Amy Melin and Brittany Shrimpton uncovered a few surprises during their time with her.

Destined to be creative

It came as no surprise that Nora was not alone in creative endeavors growing up. Her uncle was a writer, her mother worked in advertising, and her dad wrote infomercials!

Improv wannabe

Though it seems to us that Nora has all the confidence in the world, she explained that wasn’t always the case, and that sometimes her shyness held her back from writing and trying new endeavors:

[In college] I didn’t have that level of confidence that let me try anything. You know I always, always, always wanted to join the improv group. I went to all the shows. …[I felt that] I’m just not funny like all these boys are funny and like the two girls who do it are funny but, I can just go and laugh… I look back and [think] that’s so sad, like- what a waste.

Not one, but two podcasts!

You may know that Nora is the host American Public Media’s “Terrible, Thanks for Asking,” but did you know that she and Natalia Terfa co-host, “Cafeteria Christian”?

Fun Fact: “Terrible, Thanks for Asking” was actually the rejected title of her first memoir, which was ultimately titled, It’s Ok to Laugh, Crying is Cool Too.

Hot Young Widows Club

Nora and Moe Richardson founded the Hot Young Widows Club– a mostly online platform for widows (who they say neither need to think of themselves as “hot” nor “young”) and widowers to share their day to day lives, and feelings about them, freely in a supportive environment.

Process by Post-its

We always find it fascinating how each artist goes about their creative process. When we posed this question to Nora, she stuck this to us:

The basic [writing] process is the same…I need time and space to think about things. Like walk or talk or do my dishes or just to be around my children and then the thing will come to me. I don’t know what the thing is, so I keep Post-its everywhere because when the thing comes you have to be ready for it. I think Mary Oliver described it as a poem may come tumbling towards her and if she doesn’t grab it, it will just go tumbling down onto the next person.

Common Thread

Between running a non-profit, hosting podcasts, writing memoirs, columns and articles- we wanted to know what was similar about all these disparate things:

With Still Kickin and Terrible, Thanks for Asking and being me and the things I write about is to help carry other people through their hard things, to help lighten the burden for people emotionally and financially… I think that seeing other people through challenges is really enlightening to life in a lot of ways. What are we here for if not to do this for each other?

Can’t get enough Nora? Check out this bonus clip about her early years as a writer. And to learn more about Nora and all of her projects, including her new book No Happy Endings, visit her website.


Special Thanks: Hannah Meacock Ross, Hans Buetow
Additional Media: Gracie + Gold, Nylonsaddle, Craig Vanderschaegen
Minnesota Music: Cloud Cult, John Mark Nelson, Moniet Sawhney, The Sunny Era
Production Team: Amy Melin, Brittany Shrimpton, Brennan Vance, Jack Davis, Jim Kron, Joe Demko, Ezra Gold

This story is made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.