John O’Malley was born at Fulwood Army Barracks, Preston, Lancashire, England. His father was a regular soldier in the British Army, and when World War 2 broke out, he was sent to Dunkirk to fight the Germans. His mother took him and his sister, Mary, to Blackburn, Lancashire, her hometown.
Educated at St Albans Higher Grade School, he completed an advance higher education course with the Institute of Lancashire, Cheshire College, enjoying success in maths, English, and science. His first job was with British Rail as a booking clerk, where he subsequently gained promotion to the head office in Manchester in charge of sending newspapers by rail. He left to take a job in the circulation department of the Daily Mirror, eventually becoming northern distribution manager.
When the author read bedtime stories to his children and grandchildren, found they preferred his stories to the classic fairy tales. This inspired him to start writing.