With the publication of Tularosa in 1996, Michael McGarrity turned to writing full time. Many of his novels have been national best sellers. He holds a BA with distinction in psychology and a master's degree in clinical social work. As an undergraduate, he held a Ford Foundation Scholarship at the University of New Mexico. Additionally, he is an honor graduate of the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy.
His career in criminal justice spanned over twenty-five years and included creating treatment programs for drug offenders, supervising outreach services for at-risk juveniles, and re-establishing mental health services for the Department of Corrections after the infamous 1980 riot at the New Mexico Penitentiary. As a Santa Fe County deputy sheriff, he worked as a patrol officer, training and planning supervisor, community relations officer, and was the lead investigator of the sex crimes unit, which he established. Additionally, he taught courses at the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy, served as a caseworker and investigator for the Public Defender's District Office, and conducted investigations for a state government agency. In 1980 he was named New Mexico Social Worker of the Year and in 1987 was recognized by the American Legion as Police Officer of the Year.
In 2004 he received the New Mexico Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts -- Literature. He is also the 2015 recipient of the Frank Waters Exemplary Literary Achievement Award and the 2015 Santa Fe Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts – Literature. He has been instrumental in establishing the Hillerman-McGarrity Creative Writing Scholarship at the University of New Mexico, the Richard Bradford Memorial Creative Writing Scholarship at the Santa Fe Community College, and the N. Scott Momaday Creative Writing Scholarship at the Institute of American Indian Arts.
He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his wife Emily Beth (Mimi).