Katharine Anna Thompson was born in Halifax, Yorkshire, the youngest child of the social historians and peace activists E. P. Thompson and Dorothy Towers. She has lived in Ireland since 1981 and many of her books are set there. She worked with horses and travelled in India, then settled in 1984 in Inagh in the west of Ireland with her partner Conor Minogue. They have two daughters, Cliodhna and Dearbhla. She is an accomplished fiddler with an interest in Irish traditional music, which is reflected in The New Policeman.