Robert Salvatore was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, the youngest of a family of seven. A graduate of Leominster High School, Salvatore has credited his high school English teacher with being instrumental in his development as a writer. During his time at Fitchburg State College, he became interested in fantasy after reading J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, given to him as a Christmas gift. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communications and later a Bachelor of Arts in English. Before taking up writing full time he worked as a bouncer.
In 1982 he started writing more seriously, developing a manuscript he titled Echoes of the Fourth Magic. In an interview with comic book website Project Fanboy, Salvatore spoke of how he landed the deal for his first book when after finishing the script for Echoes of the Fourth Magic in early 1987, he sent the work to several publishers, one of which being TSR. TSR was looking for an author to write the second book in the The Forgotten Realms line and asked Salvatore to audition. In July 1987, Salvatore won the spot to write the sequel. He went on to publish several series of books in the Forgotten Realms campaign world, while lately his popularity surged due to his Demon Wars sagas and his two Star Wars books.
One of his most popular characters is Drizzt Do'Urden, a drow, or dark elf, portrayed against the stereotypes of his race, who defied a nation of evil enemies with his swordsmanship and courage. He abandoned the Underdark, a merciless and barren land of unmarked and limitless tunnels where deadly creatures continually lurk. His journey for freedom leads him to the surface where he faces discrimination at every turn because of his dark heritage. Drizzt stumbles along in a harsh world until he finally comes upon friends who understand the kindness of his heart. Together, they fight for justice against sinister enemies who dare to disrupt the peace of Drizzt's newfound homeland.
In addition to his novels, Salvatore wrote the story for the PS2, Xbox and PC video game Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone (2004), working with the design team at Stormfront Studios. The game was published by Atari and was nominated for awards by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences and BAFTA. CDS books commissioned him to edit a four book series based on the interactive online Everquest game. He also wrote the bot chat lines for the Quake III bots. Currently, R.A. Salvatore is busy at work as Creative Director for 38 Studios, formerly named Green Monster Games, along with pitcher Curt Schilling and Spawn comic creator Todd McFarlane.
February 2008, Devil's Due Publishing published Spooks, a comic book about a U.S. government anti-paranormal investigator/task force created by Larry Hama and Salvatore. Hama created the military characters and plots, and Salvatore covered the monster characters.
He is noted for his intense and descriptive battle scenes which have been attributed to his history in boxing and his work as a bouncer.
In 2000, Salvatore's collected papers, including correspondence and unpublished works, were donated to his alma mater Fitchburg State College to create the 'R.A. Salvatore Collection.'
He and his wife Diane have three children: Bryan, Geno, and Caitlin. They also have three Japanese Chins named Oliver, Artemis, and Ivan as well as four cats, one being named Guenhwyvar. His older brother, Gary Salvatore, died of pancreatic cancer in 2000.