Elizabeth Kostova was born Elizabeth Z. Johnson in New London, Connecticut and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. She received her undergraduate degree from Yale University and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan, where she won the 2003 Hopwood Award for her Novel-in-Progress. She is married to a Bulgarian scholar.
Her first novel, The Historian, was published in 2005, and it has become an international bestseller. Kostova released her second novel The Swan Thieves on January 12, 2010.