Marlin Barton was born in Montgomery, Ala., and grew up in Forkland, Ala. Barton had dyslexia as a child. To overcome it, he did special exercises every day while his mother read to him. He also enjoyed listening to stories told by his father and grandparents, and by customers of his grandfather’s store.
Barton attended the University of Alabama, graduating in 1985 with a BS in education. He began writing fiction while taking writing classes at the University. In 1990, he earned an MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University in Kansas.