Denis MacEoin was born in Belfast in 1949, where he was taught English by the poet Michael Longley. In 1967, he fled to Dublin to study English at Trinity College. He left Dublin reluctantly in 1971 to study Persian, Arabic and Islamic history at Edinburgh University. In Cambridge, he obtained a PhD in Persian Studies at King’s College (1979). A disastrous stint of teaching at the University of Fez in Morocco followed (rain, dead dogs, half-pay). While there, he started work on his first novel The Last Assassin, which drew on his knowledge of Iran and Shi’ism and used his first pen-name Daniel Easterman.
From 1981, he taught Arabic and Islamic studies at Newcastle University, until his Saudi sponsors removed him for teaching heretical subjects. He had published two novels by then and decided to leave academe for literature. The Easterman books (many bestsellers) use the thriller genre to explore serious political and religious themes such as anti-Semitism or Islamic terrorism. They take place in a wide variety of settings: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Tibet, Haiti, Russia, Ethiopia, Israel, Ireland, Morocco and elsewhere. A collection of his journalism, New Jerusalems, appeared in 1993.
As Denis MacEoin, he has written books and nearly 200 articles and encyclopedia entries on Islamic topics and Israel. He has also published 10 successful novels under a second pen-name, Jonathan Aycliffe. These are ghost stories rooted in the classic Anglo-American ghost-story tradition. He has been married to the writer and homeopath Beth MacEoin for almost 40 years.