Anna-Maija Ylimaula grew up in a clergyman's family who belonged to the Laestadian movement. She qualified as an architect and made her debut in 1976 with the novel Papintyttö, in which she describes growing up in an environment in which dancing and other forms of amusement are considered sinful and the use of contraceptives is not allowed. However, despite religious crises, the main character retains her faith. For the young girl, love becomes above all a question of morality and responsibility.
In her following books, Yö voi olla, 1978, and Pöytä koivikossa, 1982, the perspective shifts from the young woman to the mother. With motherhood come new conflicts between work and family. In her novel Idylli, 1984, the idyll is shattered, and doubt is cast over maternal sentiment. The novel examines existential questions of life, death, and responsibility. After ten years of silence, her novel Jumalista julmin was published in 1994.