James Ostby grew up on the barren High Plains of northeastern Montana, on the farm homesteaded by his grandparents in 1912. He holds a bachelor of science degree in general studies, a bachelor of science in film and television production, and a minor in history. He was a personnel psychology specialist in the Army in the mid '60s, has worked in public and commercial television, and was the owner and manager of a small-town radio station in Wyoming. He and his wife, Donna, and their two young daughters, returned to the farm in 1977, where the long, cold winters and the isolation provided the perfect writing environment.
James and Donna are retired, and after spending their winters aboard their bluewater sailboat based in Georgia for fifteen years, they are living full-time at their farm/ranch in northeastern Montana.