N.K. Johel is a third generation Sikh-Canadian as her grandfather, who was born in the 1860's or so, emigrated to North America during the first decade of the twentieth century. Yet due to many complex historical happenings, she did not begin to learn English until she started primary school. She gravitated to art, music, writing and theatre during her school years in Lake Cowichan. As a young adult, she moved to Nanaimo to study theatre at Vancouver Island Univerity, and then to Vancouver to study painting and fine arts at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. Her interest in literature developed informally. She credits Toni Morrison's Jazz and Michael Ondaatje's Running In The Family as the works that rekindled her interest in writing.