Born in New York City, Spatz holds degrees from Haverford College, University of New Hampshire, and The University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He now lives in Spokane, Washington, where he teaches in the MFA program at the Inland Northwest Center for Writers, Eastern Washington University. Spatz spent his youth in New England, mostly in the Berkshires.
He begged for violin lessons and began playing at six years old; he still plays fiddle professionally with John Reischman and the Jaybirds, a bluegrass band, and bouzouki with the old-time world-folk stringband Mighty Squirrel. "When I was five or six, my parents were reading aloud to me from J.R.R. Tolkien," Spatz says. "Pretty much simultaneously, I heard the Mendelssohn violin concerto. I could not believe or understand how these two artistic expressions weren't one and same thing--the lyrical, soaring violin and the narrative. Ever since, music and stories have been intertwined and at the center of my life." His playing can be heard on all of the Jaybirds recordings, as well as Mighty Squirrel and he has a solo CD as well, Fiddler's Dream.
He is the author of novels Inukshuk, Fiddler's Dream and No One But Us, as well as short story collections, Half as Happy and Wonderful Tricks. His short stories have appeared in literary journals and magazines such as Glimmer Train Stories, New England Review, Kenyon Review, Epoch, Santa Monica Review, The New Yorker, etc., and he has published numerous book and music reviews for The Oxford American. He's won numerous grants from the Washington State Artist Trust, as well as a Washington State Book Award, and in 2011 he was named Individual Artist of the Year by the Spokane Arts Commission. He is also the recipient of a 2012 National Endowment for the Arts literature fellowship.
When not on the road with the Jaybirds or Mighty Squirrel, or busy at work teaching and writing, he enjoys playing music with his wife, Caridwen, also a fiddler, and being a step-dad to her two sons Tal and Angus.