Born in Durham, North Carolina, his books are known for endearing characters, small-town Southern dialogue and realistic fire and brimstone religious sermons. His books are full of humor, while still respecting the characters' integrity.
In 1962 Edgerton enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, eventually majoring in English. During this time he was a student in the Air Force ROTC program where he learned to fly a small plane. After graduating in 1966, he entered the Air Force and served five years as a fighter pilot in the United States, Korea, Japan and Thailand.
He decided to become a writer in 1978 after watching Eudora Welty read a short story on public television.
Publication of Edgerton's first novel, Raney, the plot of which revolves around the marriage of a Free Will Baptist and an Episcopalian, ultimately led to Edgerton's leaving the teaching staff at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina (a Baptist institution). His later work, Killer Diller, is a thinly-veiled satire of that university and its administration, with whom Edgerton clashed over Raney.
All of Edgerton’s works are influenced in some way by his personal experiences. While much of his prose feels like reading a slice-of-life narrative, there is one text that is less Edgerton, and more “life” – his novel Redeye. Inspired by a visit to the Mesa Verde and Anasazi cliff dwellings, Clyde Edgerton uses that as a central location for the events of his story. The text is set in 1890s Colorado, and required an extensive amount of research when compared to his other works.
Currently he is a professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.