Born into a family of lawyers and musicians, Meg Gardiner learned early on the power of a convincing story, lyrically told. Originally from Oklahoma, she grew up in Santa Barbara, California, with two sisters and a brother who recall her as "skinny," and "taller than me."
Meg ran cross-country in high school and performed as a mime before mimes became annoying. She spent summers visiting Roswell, New Mexico, without encountering space aliens, or so she has been instructed to tell people.
At Stanford University, she lettered in track and earned a degree in Economics. She went on to graduate from Stanford Law School and to practice law in Los Angeles.
When her children were young she realized that mixing toddlers and law would drive her clinically insane, and so began writing short stories, song lyrics and a magazine column on music. But as these didn't pay off her student loans, she became a contestant on TV quiz shows. A three-time Jeopardy! champion, she extended her winning streak on The Challengers with Dick Clark. Later she taught legal writing at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
After moving to England she began documenting her travels in a journal, titled Hitchhiking in Lion Country, or Stupid Things I Have Done in Zambia. Entries include "Damn, That Cliff is Steep" and With the Kids at the Cobra Petting Zoo." She lacked the insurance to keep this up, however, and so she sought new thrills. Too squeamish to rob convenience stores, she took up crime writing. Her first novel, China Lake, was published in 2002.
She currently lives with her husband, Paul Shreve, and their three children near London.