Kay Hooper was born on an Air Force base in California, where her father was stationed. The family soon moved back to North Carolina, where Hooper was raised with her younger brother and sister. Her father and brother own a construction company, her sister Linda owns a business and works as Hooper's office manager and publicist. Hooper's mother was her personal assistant until her death in March 2002.
Hooper attended East Rutherford High School before enrolling in Isothermal Community College where she realized quickly that business classes were not her forte. She switched her course of study to literature and history and began indulging her long-time interest in writing. She requested a typewriter for Christmas, and after receiving it began her novel in earnest. This first novel, the Regency romance Lady Thief, was bought by Dell Publishing in 1980, when Hooper was only twenty-two. Since then she has had more than 60 novels published.
Hooper is single and lives near her family in Bostic, North Carolina. She has many cats and several dogs.