Ellen Horan was raised in Philadelphia and New York. After graduating from college, where she studied painting and history, she lived in France for a year while working as an au pair and studying studio art. She remained abroad for a second year and was offered a grant to live and paint in the South of France.
She returned to New York City and worked for many years with photographers and photo agencies. She maintained an art studio and worked as a freelance photo editor for magazines and books.
She turned her attention to writing after becoming intrigued by the Bond Street murder case. She lives in downtown Manhattan, the setting of her first novel, 31 Bond Street.