Daniel Acosta was born in Monterey Park, California, and grew up in the San Gabriel of the novel, living across the street from the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks. After grammar school at San Gabriel Mission School, he spent his high school years in the Catholic Dominguez Seminary in Compton, California. After seminary, he majored in English at California State University, Los Angeles, where he studied creative writing with Leon Surmelian. He graduated from Cal State L.A. in 1969 and was drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War. Three years later he began his 34 years teaching English at Mark Keppel High School in Alhambra, California. He retired from teaching in 2007 to concentrate on writing. "Iron River" is a labor of love for his neighborhood and is his debut novel.