Goodkind was born in 1948 and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, where he also attended schooling in art and Catholic Catechism Instruction.
Goodkind learned early in his life that he suffered from dyslexia, a cause of constant frustration while he was in high school. He later dropped out of college and worked as a carpenter, a violin maker, and a restorer of rare and exotic artifacts and antiques. Before starting his career as a writer, Goodkind was best known for his realistic marine and wildlife paintings. In 1993, during the construction of his home on the forested Mount Desert Island off the coast of Maine with his wife Jeri, he began to write his first novel, Wizard's First Rule, and his writing career was launched with its publication in 1994. In addition to his home in Maine, Goodkind and his wife built a second home in the desert southwest where he now spends the majority of his time