The daughter of a foreign correspondent, Kate Braestrup spent her childhood in Algiers, New York City, Paris, Bangkok, Washington, DC and Sabillasville, Maryland. She married James Andrew "Drew" Griffith in 1985. Shortly after the birth of their first child in 1986, Griffith joined the Maine State Police, and the family moved to midcoast Maine.
Educated at the Parsons School of Design/The New School and Georgetown University, Braestrup originally thought of herself primarily as a writer. She had published a novel, Onion, in 1990, after all, and occasional essays in national publications. More children arrived, but she expected to be able to continue combining motherhood and the writing of fiction and non-fiction for the foreseeable future.