William Shunn was born in Los Angeles and raised in Utah, the eldest of eight children in a devout Mormon family. A writer from a young age, he attended the Clarion Writers Workshop at Michigan State University in 1985, when he was 17. As was expected, he departed on a proselytizing mission for the LDS Church at the age of 19. He was assigned to preach in Alberta, Canada, but after six months he was convicted of felony mischief in connection with a false bomb threat and expelled from the country. The complete story is recounted in his memoir The Accidental Terrorist, available November 10, 2015. William Shunn left the Mormon Church in 1995 and developed one of the earliest ex-Mormon web sites. He currently lives in New York City.