Joan Lowery Nixon was born on February 3, 1927 in Los Angeles. She received a degree in journalism from the University of Southern California in 1947. It was at USC where she met her husband, Hershel, a naval officer and geologist. At USC she was a member of Kappa Delta, and has received their highest honor. She sold her books for time at various schools in L.A. before becoming a full-time writer. Her son Joe Nixon was a representative in the Texas House. She died of pancreatic cancer in Houston, Texas on June 28, 2003. Joan, Hershel, and her children lived in Corpus Christi before finally settling in the Memorial and Tanglewood area of Houston, Texas.
Nixon wrote over 100 books, including The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore (1979). She also co-authored several science books with her geologist husband Hershell Nixon.
Nixon won four Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America, and had five additional nominations. She won the California Young Reader Medal of the Texas Library Association twice. She also won the Western Writers of America's Golden Spur Award twice, and received the Texas Institute of Letters Award.
Her novel The Other Side of Dark was loosely adapted into the 1995 TV movie Awake To Danger, starring Tori Spelling and Michael Gross.