Born in Bristol, Cross grew up in Edinburgh with his mother and stepfather, Derek Cross. After that relationship broke up, Cross returned to Bristol as a teenager, attending Brislington Comprehensive school. He later went to Leeds University, before beginning work in the publishing industry. In 2002 he moved to Wellington, New Zealand with his wife Nadya and their family.. While living in New Zealand, he has continued writing, and also has written for television, including being the lead writer for the BBC TV series Spooks.