Nichols is the author of the "New Mexico trilogy", a series about the complex relationship between history, race and ethnicity, and land and water rights in the fictional Chamisaville County, New Mexico. The trilogy consists of The Milagro Beanfield War (which was adapted into a movie of the same title directed by Robert Redford), The Magic Journey, and Two of his other novels have been made into films. The Wizard of Loneliness was published in 1966 and the film version with Lukas Haas was made in 1988.
Another successful movie adaptation was of The Sterile Cuckoo, which was published in 1965 and was filmed by Alan J. Pakula in 1969.
He also had an important but uncredited hand - due to a Writers Guild arbitration decision - in the Oscar-winning Best Adapted Screenplay for Costa-Gavras" 1982 film, Missing. Nichols has also written non-fiction, including the trilogy If Mountains Die, The Last Beautiful Days of Autumn and On the Mesa.
John Nichols has lived in Taos, New Mexico for many years. He is the subject of a documentary The Milagro Manitoba: The Irrepressible Multicultural Life and Literary Times of John Nichols, which premiered at the 2012 Albuquerque Film Festival.
He is the grandson of ichthyologist John Treadwell Nichols and a first cousin of Massachusetts politician William Weld.
Nichols graduated from Hamilton College in 1962. A Ghost in the Music. 1979. X. American Blood.
Henry Holt & Company
1987. An Elegy for September. Henry Holt & Company 1992. Conjugal Bliss: A Comedy of Martial Arts.
Henry Holt & Company 1994. The Voice of the Butterfly.
Chronicle Books. 2001. The Empanada Brotherhood.
Chronicle Books. 2007. On Top Of Spoon Mountain. University of New Mexico Press.
2012. Non-fiction Non-fiction trilogy If Mountains Die: A New Mexico Memoir.
With William Davis (photographer). Knopf. 1979. The Last Beautiful Days of Autumn. Henry Holt & Company 1982.
On the Mesa. Gibbs Smith. 1986. A Fragile Beauty: John Nichols" Milagro Country. Gibbs Smith. 1987. Keep lieutenant Simple: A Defense of the Earth.
1992. Dancing on the Stones:Selected Essays. University of New Mexico Press. 2000. An American Child Supreme: The Education of a Liberation Ecologist.