John Hornor Jacobs (1971–)

John Hornor Jacobs is a novelist whose fiction spans different elements of the horror, science fiction, supernatural, and fantasy genres. Jacobs’s home state of Arkansas features prominently in many of his works, though he has lamented the difficulty of gaining popularity in the state. Jacobs, who also works in advertising, is a strong proponent for supporting local art and artists.

John Hornor Jacobs was born on January 5, 1971, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to lawyer John Jacobs and his wife, Mary Sue Hornor. He has one sister. As a kid, Jacobs loved to frequent bookstores and libraries. He attended Central High School and received a BA in English from Lyon College in Batesville (Independence County). He also attended the Dallas Art Institute, receiving an associate’s degree in computer animation/multimedia.

He had written some in college, but it was not until he was thirty-seven that he started writing in earnest, particularly for National Novel Writing Month, an annual web project that challenges participants to produce a 50,000-word novel from beginning to end during the month of November. Jacobs completed the 2007 challenge and kept writing.

Jacobs published his first novel, Southern Gods, in 2011. It was short-listed for the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award, a top horror prize, for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. Set in the 1950s, this “crime noir” novel follows a war veteran searching the Arkansas backwoods for a missing musician. The book jacket promises readers “Lovecraftian horror and Southern gothic menace.”

His other works include a short-story collection, Fierce as the Grave: A Quartet of Horror Stories (2011), and the horror novel This Dark Earth (2012). In addition, he has published the young-adult Incarcerado trilogy: The Twelve-Fingered Boy (2013), The Shibboleth (2014), and The Conformity (2015). The Incorruptibles, the first installment of a fantasy trilogy published through a British publishing house, was nominated for best novel of 2014 by SFX Magazine, the biggest science-fiction magazine in the United Kingdom. Fellow author Patrick Rothfuss said of Jacobs’s work, “I wish more books were as fresh and brave.” His next installment, Foreign Devils, was published in 2015. In 2019, he published A Lush and Seething Hell, combining two novellas, the previously published The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky and the new My Heart Struck Sorrow.

In addition to writing, Jacobs draws, does graphic design, and plays guitar. He has been a construction worker, a groundskeeper, a fryboy, and a waiter, as well as a web-designer, copywriter, art director, business owner, and creative director, mostly in advertising. He ran the White Water Tavern open mic night for a few years in the 1990s and has played in various bands, opening the King Biscuit Blues Festival in 2011.

Jacobs is senior art director (and an investor in) Cranford Co., a Little Rock advertising agency. He and his wife, Kendall Jacobs (whom he married in 1999), have two daughters.

For additional information:
Ellerbee, Jacob. “Artist Spotlight: Author John Hornor Jacobs.” Rock City Life. (accessed September 7, 2021).

John Hornor Jacobs. (accessed September 7, 2021).

Wolfe, Ron. “John Hornor Jacobs.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, March 16, 2014, pp. 1D, 7D.

J. Jobe
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies


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