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Alford was born in Laramie, Wyoming  and graduated from high school there in 1972. He earned a master's degree in creative writing at the University of Wyoming.  After leaving Wyoming, he lived in Ireland and traveled the world.
He met Duguid on a bike trip in Tibet in 1985, and they were married in early 1986. They had two sons, and lived in Toronto, Canada. The couple separated in 2009, and Alford now lives in a small village in Northern Thailand .