A Mexican-American writer, she is best known for her award-winning Outlander book series. Her other works include the Lord John books and several collections of short fiction.
She earned a Master's degree in Marine Biology from the University of California, San Diego in 1975. She published the debut book in the Outlander series in 1991.
Her literary works contain elements of several genres, including romance, science fiction, mystery, historical fiction, and adventure.
She grew up in Arizona as the daughter of state senator Tony Gabaldon. With her husband, Doug Watkins, she had three children.
She and Angels Fall author, Nora Roberts, are both Quill Award winners.