Kim Edwards was born in Killeen, Texas, on May 4, 1958. Shortly after her birth, her parents moved to Skaneateles, New York, which lies in the middle of upstate New York's Finger Lake region. Edwards is the oldest of four siblings.
Edwards first attended Auburn Community College and then completed her undergraduate studies at Colgate University. It was at Colgate that she took her first fiction writing class and produced her first short story, "The Way It Felt to Be Falling." Later, Edwards was accepted at the University of Iowa, where she received an MFA in fiction and an MA in linguistics.
After completing her graduate work, Edwards and her husband accepted teaching jobs first on the rural east coast of Malaysia, then in Japan, and finally in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The couple stayed in Asia for five years, during which time Edwards began to publish short stories. By 1990 she had perfected her craft, as demonstrated with her having won the Nelson Algren Award for her story “Sky Juice.” Since then, Edwards has published many award-winning short stories and was honored by having her story "The Great Barrier Reef" published in the 1993 collection Best American Short Stories.
Edwards' first published book, The Secrets of a Fire King (1997), a collection of short stories, was short-listed for the 1998 Pen/Hemingway Award. The Memory Keeper's Daughter, her first novel, was selected for a Barnes and Noble Discovery Award and won the 2005 Kentucky Literary Award for fiction.
Edwards lives in Lexington, Kentucky, the major setting of her novel, where she teaches writing at the University of Kentucky.