Paulette Kay Jiles was born in 1943 in Salem, Missouri. She attended college at the University of Missouri–Kansas City, graduating in 1968 with a major in Romance Languages. Jiles moved to Toronto, Canada in 1969, where she worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and, subsequently, helped set up native language, FM radio stations with indigenous peoples in the far north of Ontario and Quebec for the next 10 years. In the process, she learned the Ojibwe language spoken by the Anishinaabeg peoples in Ontario and elsewhere.
After marrying Jim Johnson, she moved with him to San Antonio in 1991. After several years of travel, including living in Mexico, the couple resettled in San Antonio in 1995, buying a house in the historical district.  After her divorce in 2003, Jiles has lived on a 36-acre ranch near Utopia, Texas, about 80 miles west of San Antonio.
- Waterloo Express (1973)
- Celestial Navigation (1984, winner of the 1984 Governor General's Award for English Poetry, the Pat Lowther Award, and the Gerald Lampert Award)
- The Golden Hawks (Where We Live) (1985)
- Sitting in the Club Car Drinking Rum and Karma Kola (1986, nominated for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize)
- The Late Great Human Road Show (1986, nominated for the Books in Canada First Novel Award)
- The Jesse James Poems (1988)
- Blackwater (1988)
- Song to the Rising Sun (1989)
- Cousins (1992)
- Flying Lesson: Selected Poems (1995)
- North Spirit: Travels Among the Cree and Ojibway Nations and Their Star Maps (1995)
- Enemy Women (2002, winner of the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize)
- Stormy Weather (2007)
- The Color of Lightning (2009)
- Lighthouse Island (2013)
- News of the World (2016)
- Simon the Fiddler (2020)
- "October 2016 Archives". UMKC Alumni. UMKC Alumni Association. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
- Jiles, Paulette. "Author's Page". amazon.com. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
- Salaman, Jeff. "True Western". texasmonthly.com. Texas Monthly. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
- Cook-Monroe, Nancy. "Former San Antonian Paulette Jiles Nominated for National Book Award". The Rivard Report. (therivardreport.com). Retrieved 7 October 2017.
Her blog is Paulette Jiles, Author. <accessdate=7 October 2017>