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 Too Much Water So Close to Home that inspired him to start writing stories. Vlautin has published four novels: THE MOTEL LIFE (2007), NORTHLINE (2008), LEAN ON PETE (2010), and THE FREE (2014).

Vlautin founded the band Richmond Fontaine in 1994. The band has produced nine studio albums to date, plus a handful of live recordings and EPs. Driven by Vlautin’s dark, story-like songwriting, the band has achieved critical acclaim at home and across Europe. 2014 will see the debut album from Vlautin’s new band, The Delines, featuring vocalist Amy Boone (The Damnations).

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
“This guy writes like the secret love child of Raymond Carver and Flannery O’Connor–just plain, true, tough, irony-free, heartrending American fiction about people living in the third-world sections of our country.”
Michael Gruber
“If McMurtry, Johnson, McGuane, and Carver need a fifth to make up a literary five-a-side team, they need look no further than Willy Vlauin.”
Niall Griffiths
“I love Willy Vlautin’s novels. Downbeat and plaintive as they are, the tenderness holds on like the everlasting arms … Willy’s voice is pure and his stories universal. He never loses hope or heart and I believe every word he’s written.”
Barry Gifford
“Vlautin’s novels are clean as a bone, companionable and profound. He is a master at paring loneliness and longing from his characters, issuing them through downturns, trials and transience without starving their humanity, and always sustaining them, and the reader, with ordinary hope.”
Sarah Hall