Born in Tulare, California, Kathleen O'Neal Gear is one of six children. Her parents, Harold Arthur O'Neal and Wanda Lillie O'Neal, left Oklahoma and Arkansas during the Dust Bowl and moved to California. For most of Kathleen's youth, her parents owned and operated a small farm in the central San Joaquin Valley of California, growing primarily cotton and alfalfa. But at the same time, her father authored more than fifty short stories, and her mother worked as a newspaper journalist.
Kathleen received her B.A., cum laude, from California State University in Bakersfield, and her M.A., summa cum laude, from California State University in Chico. She conducted Ph.D. studies at the University of California in Los Angeles and did post-graduate studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel.
Her family always spent their summer vacations visiting historical and archaeological sites around the United States. Those trips left indelible impressions. She worked on her first archaeological excavation at the age of ten, and won her first writing contest at the age of thirteen, where she took first place in the American Legion essay contest held at Tipton Elementary School.
In the 1980's, she worked for the United States Department of the Interior as the Wyoming State Historian, and later as the Archaeologist for Wyoming, Kansas and Nebraska. She has twice been the recipient of the federal government's "Special Achievement Award" for outstanding management of our nation's cultural heritage. She and Michael currently operate an anthropological research company called Wind River Archaeological Consultants.
She began writing full-time in 1986 and has over one hundred non-fiction publications in the fields of archaeology, history and writing, and has authored nine novels of her own, and co-authored, with her husband W. Michael Gear, thirty-four international bestsellers, which have been translated into twenty-one languages.
She and Michael live on a buffalo ranch in the Owl Creek Mountains of northern Wyoming.