Tom Spanbauer grew up on a farm outside Pocatello, Idaho. In 1969, he received his BA in English literature from Idaho State University. After graduating, Spanbauer served in the Peace Corps in Kenya for two years. He returned to Idaho, but in 1978, he decided he needed leave that state. He moved around, landing in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Key West. He studied at Columbia University while waiting tables at Manhattan eateries like Odeon and being a super for five buildings on East Fifth Street. In 1988, he received an MFA in fiction from Columbia.
In 1991, Tom settled in Portland where he teaches Dangerous Writing in the basement of his house. At least 40 of his students have published novels and/or memoirs, including: Chuck Palahniuk, Monica Drake, Cheryl Strayed, Chelsea Cain, and Lidia Yuknavitch.
His five novels are: Faraway Places (1989), The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon (1991), In The City Of Shy Hunters (2001), Now Is The Hour (2007), and I Loved You More (2015).
As an openly gay HIV+ writer, he explores issues of race and sexual identity. Spanbauer writes on his website that his work is about:
“…how we make a family for ourselves in order to surmount the limitations of the families into which we are born.”