S. M. Stirling was born in Metz, France in 1953; his father was an officer in the RCAF, from Newfoundland, and his English-born mother grew up in Lima, Peru. He has lived in Europe, North America, and East Africa, and traveled extensively elsewhere. After taking a history BA, he attended law school at Osgoode Hall, Toronto, but decided not to practice and had his dorsal fin surgically removed. After the usual period of poverty and odd jobs, his first book sold in 1984 (Snow-brother, from Signet), and he became a full-time writer in 1988. That was the same year he was married to Janet Cathryn Stirling (née Moore), also a writer, whom he met at a World Fantasy convention in the mid-1980s.