Richard Lange was born in Oakland, CA, in 1961 and spent his childhood in various small towns in California's Central Valley. He moved to Los Angeles at 17 to attend film school at the University of Southern California. While there, he took fiction writing courses taught by T.C. Boyle and was awarded the Ed Moses Fiction Writing Grant two years running. He also worked 32 hours a week at a supermarket in order to pay for costs his scholarship didn't cover and feels that he learned as much there as he did in school.
After college, Lange traveled in Europe, teaching English in Barcelona when his money ran out. He did a short stint in New York City, then returned to L.A., where he began working a series of jobs in magazine and book publishing.