Paulette Jiles was born in Salem, Missouri, in the Missouri Ozarks. Raised in small towns in both south and central Missouri, she attended three different high schools, an exhausting process of social dislocation and fashion wobbles, and with relief graduated from the University of Missouri (KC) in Romance Languages. After graduation she worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto and in the far north of Ontario and in the Quebec Arctic, helping to set up village one-watt FM radio stations in the native language, Anishinabe and Inuktitut. She became reasonably conversant in Anishinabe but Inuktitut was just too much. Very hard. Besides she was only in the eastern Arctic for a year. Work in the north lasted about ten years all told.
She taught at David Thompson University in Nelson B.C. and grew to love the British Columbian ecosystems and general zaniness. She spent one year as a writer-in-residence at Philips Andover in Massachusetts and then returned to the United States permanently when she married Jim Johnson, a Texan. They have lived in Texas since 1995.
She and her husband renovated an old stone house in the San Antonio historic district and amidst the rubble and stonemasons and ripped-out electrical systems she completed Enemy Women. She now lives on a small ranch near a very small town in the Texas Hill Country with a horse and a donkey. She plays Irish tin whistle with a bluegrass group, sings alto in choir, rides remote trails in Texas with friends. Her horse is named Buck. News of the World (William Morrow) was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her other novels include: The Color of Lightning, Stormy Weather, Lighthouse Island among others.