W. R. Flynn was born in Hibbing, Minnesota, one of seven children of a civil engineer working in an open pit taconite mine. He was later raised in a rough neighborhood a few blocks from Foothill Boulevard just outside Oakland, California.
He earned a BA in history from the University of Washington at the age of 28 and an MEd from Western Washington University at age 32. He travelled throughout much of the communist world during the 1980s including a one month long experience working on a vegetable farm in Cuba. Since the early 1990s, Flynn has travelled to Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Canada, Mexico and Singapore with his wife and children. Retired from a career in law enforcement, he now spends his time writing books and raising his family.