She attended Lake Forest College, receiving B.A.'s in psychology and English literature. During college, she spent 6 months working in a bookstore in London as part of a work exchange program. While there, she decided to write professionally. After returning she started her writing career while working at the art center of a local college. After ten years, she discovered success with the publication of her first book in 2001.
Currently, Carey lives in western Michigan and is a member of the oldest Mardi Gras krewe in the state.
Her first novel was Kushiel's Dart, published by Tor Books in 2001, and the recipient of the 2002 Locus Award for Best First Novel. The Kushiel's Legacy trilogy, completed with Kushiel's Chosen and Kushiel's Avatar, follows the story of a courtesan in a historical fantasy or alternate history (Terre d'Ange) society that follows a demi-god, Elua, whose precept is "Love as thou wilt". The map of Terre d'Ange, the "Land of the Angels," bears a striking resemblance to that of France. Fictional versions of Greece, Great Britain, Italy, Germany, and Spain also figure prominently in the series. Elua was born when the blood of Yeshua ben Yosef, the son of the one God, mingled with the tears of the Magdelene and carried in the womb of Mother Earth. With Elua's peaceful wanderings and the one God's rejection of him, seven angels then rejected God to become Elua's companions on Earth. These angels and Elua himself then founded a nation and comingled with humans before leaving. D'Angelines are the people from their descent.
The first trilogy, Kushiel's Legacy, begins with the story of Phèdre nò Delaunay, a courtesan's flawed and unwanted daughter who is sold into indenture. The second trilogy (named Treason's Heir in the UK and frequently dubbed the Imriel trilogy in North America), is a continuation of the storyline started in Kushiel's Legacy. The main protagonist is Imriel nò Montrève de la Courcel, third in line for the throne of Terre d'Ange and adopted son of Phèdre nò Delaunay de Montrève. Imriel was first introduced in Kushiel's Chosen as the traitor Melisande's infant son. The third trilogy, whose second novel comes out June 2010, takes place centuries after both trilogies and features the protagonist Moirin of the Maghuinn Dhon. Moirin is half-D'Angeline and half Cruithne, touched by the blessing of Naamah.
Carey's second fantasy series is "The Sundering," consisting of Banewreaker, published in 2004, and Godslayer, published in 2005. It is a story in the vein of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, but told as a tragedy from the point of view of the "dark" side.
Carey's third series begins with Santa Olivia, published in 2009 with an upcoming sequel, Santitos At Large. Recently through a facebook contest, Carey offered fans the chance to choose a new name for the sequel to "Santa Olivia", as her publishers were not happy with the working title. The new title of "Saints Astray" was announced on her facebook fan page on August, 27, 2010.
"You and You Alone" is a return to the Kushiel universe and is the awaited love story of Anafiel Delauney and Rolande de la Courcel. This will appear in Songs of Love and Death, edited by George RR Martin (2010)
"In The Matter of Fallen Angels" (in Elemental: The Tsunami Relief Anthology (2006), edited by Steven Savile and Alethea Kontis)
"The Isle of Women" (in Emerald Magic: Great Tales of Irish Fantasy (2004), edited by the Rev. Andrew Greeley)
"Jazznight" in I-94: A Collection of Southwest Michigan Writers (1997)
Online archived short stories
" The Peacock Boy,"in The Scroll (issue 4, 1995), edited by Thom O'Connor
" Actaeon," in The Scroll (issue 6, 1995)
"The Antedivulians," Prisoners of the Night #9 (1995)
" In the City," in Quanta (1995), edited by Daniel K. Appelquist
" Bludemagick," in InterText (issue #26, July-August 1995), edited by Jason Snell
"What Bled Through the Wall," in Clique of the Tomb Beetle (1996)