Barrett was born in Bondi, Australia, the son of George and Marguerite Barrett. He left school at 14 to do a few odd jobs before taking on a trade as a butcher around the eastern suburbs of Sydney. He gave up his trade when a hind of beef fell on him and injured his shoulder. While he was on worker's compensation, he completed three writing courses at the WEA (Workers' Educational Association). When his sickness benefits ran out he worked in various jobs, DJ, barman, or went on the dole. His first writing job was gag writing for disc jockeys on Radio 2SM. He also signed on with a casting agent and started acting in commercials and television series and appeared in what he says are 'two classic A-grade clunkers'; the movies Bullamakanka and The Empty Beach.
The new title from Robert G. Barrett is based on his visit to the remote Pacific island of Nan Madoll. He describes the forthcoming book as "a science shock thing set on a fictitious island somewhere in Micronesia - complete with magic crystals, UFOs, and mysterious force fields. Plus the usual gratuitous sex, drugs and violence you find in my books. And just to stir things up a bit, I'll throw in a third world war. Sort of INDEPENDENCE DAY meets WAG THE DOG. How's that for a mystery story? But of course, the literary establishment has always considered me a mystery writer. It's a complete mystery to them why anybody buys my books."