Patricia Van Tighem was born in Calgary, Alberta, where she began writing in her teens. Winner of a Canada Permanent Trust short-story competition, she was awarded a scholarship to the creative writing program at the Banff School of Fine Arts under the tutelage of the late W.O. Mitchell. Van Tighem trained as a nurse at Mount Royal College and the University of Victoria. Until her death in December 2005, she lived with her family in a small town in the mountains of British Columbia.