Born and raised without television or indoor plumbing in the small mining country town of Sharpe, KY, writer Tom Rickman's literary heroes were Southern gothic writers such as Flannery O'Connor and William Faulkner. He spent his youth daydreaming on the banks of the Ohio River about becoming an author like they or Mark Twain.
Rickman left his hometown to serve in the United States Marine Corps, then attended Murray State College as an English major with an interest in acting. While attending graduate school at the University of Illinois, Rickman adapted an O'Connor story for the short film Good Blood, which drew the attention of the American Film Institute. Rickman soon left Illinois to study at the AFI. There, as a Film Fellow in writing and directing, he made another short, What Fixed Me, which won awards at the New York Film Festival and the National Student Film Festival.