Born and raised in Reno, Nevada, Vlautin started playing guitar and writing songs as a teenager and quickly became immersed in music. It was a Paul Kelly song, based on Raymond Carver’s So Much Water So Close to Home that inspired him to start writing stories. Vlautin has published five novels: THE MOTEL LIFE (2007), NORTHLINE (2008), LEAN ON PETE (2010), THE FREE (2014), and DON’T SKIP OUT ON ME (2018).

Vlautin founded the band Richmond Fontaine in 1994. The band produced eleven studio albums, plus a handful of live recordings and EPs. Driven by Vlautin’s dark, story-like songwriting, the band, now retired, achieved critical acclaim at home and across the UK and Europe.

In 2014 Vlautin formed The Delines with members of Richmond Fontaine and singer Amy Boone (The Damnations). The band has released two albums, Colfax (2014) and The Imperial (2018).

Vlautin currently resides in Scappoose, Oregon.

“Willy Vlautin is one of the bravest novelists writing. Murderers, cheats, sadists, showy examples of the banality of evil, are easy, but it takes real courage to write a novel about ordinary good people. They don’t fit into the cynic’s little boxes — they’re way too big. The guy working two eight-hour jobs who still can’t meet the mortgage but won’t let his kids down, the hospital night nurse coping with her crazy mean father and trying to rescue a lost girl — common people, the ones who never get the breaks, the ones who need, and know, compassion. An unsentimental Steinbeck, a heartbroken Haruf, Willy Vlautin tells us who really lives now in our America, our city in ruins.”
Ursula K. Le Guin
“No one anywhere writes as beautifully about people whose stories stay close to the dirt. Willy Vlautin is a secular—and thus real and profoundly useful—saint.”
—Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan