The son of two World War II veterans, David Lea Robbins was born on March 10, 1954, in Richmond, VA. He received his B.A. in Theater and Speech from the College of William and Mary in 1976, then his Juris Doctorate from the same school four years later.
He spent one year practicing environmental law in South Carolina and then turned to freelance writing. He did not devote his time to writing fiction until 1990. With the publication of War of the Rats and his subsequent novels, Robbins was able to become a full-time novelist.
In 2007, Robbins returned to his William & Mary, this time as the Writer in Residence.
Along with several other authors, including Dean King and Phaedra Hise, Robbins co-founded James River Writers in 2002 to encourage creative expression in the Richmond area. Since its founding, the nonprofit organization has held literary contests, newsletters, and a yearly conference, as well as exposing readers to contemporary authors who come to speak.
In 2015, Robbins collaborated with the Virginia War Memorial to host the "Mighty Pen Project," an attempt to have veterans share their stories.
Following his experience with James River Writers, Robbins became interested in creating opportunities for urban students in Richmond Public Schools in creative expression and writing. In 2008, he started the Podium Foundation. As its website explains, Podium publishes a literary magazine and conducts instruction and workshops for students and teachers, and activities to provide a public voice to these students who aspire to rise above societal expectations. Currently, Podium has published five volumes of student submissions drawn from thousands of entries. The organization has a weekly presence in every RPS high school and has grown to include numerous opportunities for city students of limited means to showcase their talent and hone their writing skills. Today, Podium students have published opinion pieces in the Richmond Times Dispatch, online journals, and other school publications. Through this work, the organisation has exposed thousands of inner city students to the power of the written word and the potential they have within.
In addition to writing novels, Robbins is an avid sailor and sportsman. He studies classical guitar.
When not traveling to research his novels, he lives in his hometown of Richmond, VA.
Robbins’s first book, Souls to Keep (pub. 1998 by Harper Collins), attracted little attention. His breakthrough came in 1999 with the publication of War of the Rats, a recounting of the Russian and German sniper duels over the city of Stalingrad.
Robbins followed up War of the Rats with The End of War, another World War II-era tale of the approach of the Allied forces and the fall of Berlin, this time adding civilian perspectives to his narrative. His fourth novel, Scorched Earth, addressed contemporary racism in the American South. Robbins returned to World War II with Last Citadel, describing Cossack traditions and partisan warfare during the tank battle of Kursk in August 1943. Liberation Road deals with the experience of black and Jewish minorities in the U.S. Army during the war.
Branching from historical fiction into alternate history, The Assassin’s Gallery features the assassination of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It is the first of Robbins’ novels to have a direct sequel, The Betrayal Game, in which an American teacher visiting Havana is embroiled in a conspiracy to assassinate Fidel Castro before the Bay of Pigs invasion.
His novel Broken Jewel was released on November 10, 2009 by Simon & Schuster. In this novel, Robbins explores the Pacific Theater and the atrocities committed upon the so-called “comfort women” enslaved by the Japanese military.
When the waters of traditional trade publishing turned tepid, Robbins turned to Amazon.com to publish his work directly, under their imprint Thomas & Mercer. He also packaged a series of novels called "USAF Pararescue Thrillers." His tenth novel, an adventure tale of Somali pirates and international intrigue influenced by Mary Shelley, The Devil's Waters, was published in 2012. Its sequel, The Empty Quarter, was published in 2014. The Devil's Horn is another in the series.