Owl Goingback was conceived in Comanche County, Oklahoma, born in St. Louis, Missouri, and grew up in the rural Midwest where farming, fishing, and hunting were a way of life. On July 10, 1969, at the age of ten, he was adopted by his stepfather, Carl M. Heidbrink, who gave him his surname. He carried that name until his stepfather and mother divorced, legally changing it to a given name bestowed upon him; the name he has now. It is his legal name, and not a pen name.
At the age of seventeen, Owl quit high school to enlist in the military before the Vietnam Era G.I. Bill ended, arriving at basic training on December 26, 1976 (obtaining a Certificate of High School Equivalence while serving his country). He spent four and a half years in the United States Air Force, earning the rank of sergeant. During that time, he worked as a jet engine mechanic on F-4 Fighters, KC-135 Tankers and B-52 Bombers, serving in Spain, Italy, Turkey (deployed during the Iranian hostage crisis), and the continental United States. His Certificates of Training include Jet Engine Mechanic Course (Chanute AFB), J79 Organizational Maintenance (Torrejon AFB), and NCO Orientation Course (Torrejon AFB). In addition to the tech schools taught by the Air Force, he also took college courses offered by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University while stationed in Spain but could not complete the program due to TDY deployments.
Owl left the Air Force in 1981 to buy a restaurant/lounge in Warner Robins, Georgia that had recently closed. The business was called Jim's Place (named after its original owner, Jim Bennet, who operated the business for over twenty years). Owl and his family ran the restaurant for five years, keeping the original name because they inherited many of the same customers and could not afford to buy new exterior signs.
It was during the restaurant years that Owl first put pen to paper professionally. He started his literary career writing self-defense articles for martial arts magazines, but switched to writing fiction because it paid better, and he didn't have to take photographs.
Owl has written numerous novels, short stories, children's books, comics, and magazine articles. He is often inspired by his mixed blood Native American heritage (Choctaw/Cherokee, not enrolled, and Caucasian), and makes Indigenous characters the heroes of his fiction stories to honor his extended powwow family. He has also ghostwritten for Hollywood celebrities.
His novel Crota won the Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in a first novel and was a Stoker Award nominee in the novel category—the first time a novel had ever been nominated in two categories. His novel Coyote Rage was also a Bram Stoker Award winner, while Darker Than Night was a Stoker Nominee. In 2019, Owl was the recipient of the Horror Writers Association Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor given in horror literature.
The author's books have been used in reading programs at universities, public schools, and for a youthful offender program at the Orange County Correctional Facility in Orlando, Florida. For many of the inmates at the Correctional Facility, it was the first time they had ever read a book. Those who completed the eight-week course were rewarded with a visit from their family, complete with a home cooked meal.
In addition to his literary endeavors, Owl has given presentations on Native American history and folklore at numerous Florida public schools and Scouting events. He has never charged for any of those appearances, feeling knowledge should be given and not sold. He only accepts a fee when lecturing on his writing at private universities.
Recently, Owl has been a victim of a hate group, and cancel culture, whose members and followers have spread false and misleading information about him based on speculation and conjuncture. They have attacked his family, friends, and publishers, even changing what is written about him on Wikipedia to paint him in a negative light and damage his literary career. The author asks that you do not believe everything written about him on unreliable, or unregulated, websites.