Judith Astria Merkle was born on January 14, 1942 and grew up in Livermore, California. Her great-uncle was the famous baseball player Fred Merkle, her father, Theodore Charles Merkle ran Project Pluto, and her brother Ralph C. Merkle is a pioneer in public key cryptography, and more recently a researcher and speaker on molecular nanotechnology and cryonics.
She held a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. She taught in the Department of Government at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California. From 1988 to 2007, Judith wrote six historical romance novels.