RJ McDonnell is the son of a Pennsylvania State Police Detective, who received several decorations for solving complex and high-profile crimes. In addition to a traditional education, RJ also had the benefit of seeing every police detective drama on television and in the movies. His father would frequently critique these stories for believability of characters and police procedures.
He earned a Bachelor's Degree at Penn State University and a Masters at Marywood University.
During his college years RJ was a rhythm guitarist and vocalist in two bands. Shortly thereafter, he moved to San Diego where he went to work for a professional writing service. In addition, he wrote a monthly column for the Military Press, and another for a San Diego publication, providing advice to job seekers.
In the 90s, RJ got into comedy writing. He wrote for a local San Diego cable television show that had a Saturday Night Live-type format. Over its two seasons on the air, 34 of his skits were produced. Rock & Roll Homicide was the first novel in his Rock & Roll Mystery Series. The second novel, Rock & Roll Rip-Off, was selected 2010 Mystery/Thriller of the Year by
Premier Book Awards.