Russell Kelly worked as a journalist for Tasmanian newspapers and radio before completing a degree in geography and environmental studies at the University of Tasmania in the early 1990s. He has been associated with the Tasmanian Greens as the organisation's media contact. Beginning in 1990, Kelly began submitting his short stories to various Australian literary magazines, winning several prizes and commendations. Several of these stories appeared in the literary magazine Island and Kelly was editor of that magazine for a short period during 1999. Kelly's story, 'Love Bird', appeared in Best Australian Stories 1999. In 2003, Kelly was working towards a masters degree in journalism.