Umi Sinha was born in India and moved to Britain with her British mother at the age of fifteen. Her father was one of the first Indians to be accepted as an officer into the Royal Indian Navy and served on the Arctic Convoys in the Second World War. Her mother was a published writer, as is her brother, Indra Sinha.

She has an MA in Creative Writing and taught on the Certificate in Creative Writing at Sussex University for ten years. She has also worked as a Lecturer in Creative Writing on the MA at Brighton University and taught on the Creative Writing Programme at New Writing South. She is a member of Writers Mosaic, a branch of the Royal Literary Fund, and is currently a Reading Round Lector.

She also runs her own courses and workshops, mentors other writers, and offers manuscript appraisal and editing support, and resources for writers at Writing Clinic.

In 2006 she and a group of other storytellers founded The GuestHouse Storytellers, an oral storytelling club based in Newhaven, East Sussex, now run by professional storyteller Xanthe Gresham.