John Richard Erickson was born in Midland, Texas on October 20, 1943. In 1966, he received a B.A. degree from the University of Texas in Austin and studied for two years at Harvard Divinity School. He began to publish short stories while working full-time as a cowboy, farmhand, and ranch manager. In 1982, he started his own publishing company called Maverick Books, which published the first Hank the Cowdog book in 1983. He is the author of the best-selling Hank the Cowdog series, which won an Audie for Outstanding Children's Series from the Audio Publisher's Association in 1993. His stories have also won Oppenheimer, Wrangler, and Lamplighter Awards.