A citizen of both New Zealand and Canada, Joel was born in Auckland, New Zealand. He grew up in Wellington, Canterbury and Auckland, managing along the way to attend school in four different countries. The loss of his sense of balance by an ear infection ruled out a career as a pilot, so Joel spent five years studying geology and chemistry at the University of Waikato in Hamilton. It was here that he first met his wife, Lisa, and was a member of the local motorbike club.
After spending three years working in an open-cast gold mine, the family moved to New Plymouth, within twenty minutes drive from the dormant volcano Taranaki on the west coast of the North Island. Intermittent employment gave Joel the scope to begin to draught out his first plot ideas, leading to his first published work in 2000. Joel has worked since 1998 as a high school teacher of science and math. He finds this to be an immensely rewarding career, knowing that he is no longer working to improve a company's bottom line.
Joel's other talents include string instruments. He has played violin since 1977, and since 1995 has played viola with the New Plymouth Orchestra. He also uses his guitar and bass to aggravate a hearing problem. In addition to his collection of SF novels, Joel also collects and reads early-edition classic literature. His favourite authors include Asimov, Stephen King, Joseph Conrad, Jack London and Poe.