HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Jon Jefferson

New York Times Best-Selling Author of the Body Farm Novels


  • Forensic Science/Forensic Anthropology
  • The Body Farm: The Evolving Way Scientists Look at Death
  • Turning Forensic Fact into Compelling Fiction
  • The Power of Words



Preacher-boy, sex educator, newspaper columnist, public-radio commentator, documentary filmmaker, memoirist: these are among the many word-wielding trades Jon Jefferson plied before his current stint as the writer behind the best-selling series of Body Farm novels. Working with his scientific collaborator, Dr. Bill Bass -- the renowned forensic anthropologist who created the Body Farm -- Jefferson has penned half a dozen novels and two nonfiction books in the past seven years, with no signs of letting up. His sought-after keynote speeches are as educational as they are entertaining, ranging from how the Body Farm is changing the way scientists look at death, to the art of turning fact into fiction.

One of the standout features of the Body Farm novels is the ease with which they incorporate and explain sophisticated forensic science. Jefferson developed his talent for translating complex science into compelling stories shortly after graduate school, while working as a writer and video producer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. That work led to a five-year stint as a TV documentary writer/producer, making programs for the Arts and Entertainment Network (A&E), the History Channel, the Oxygen Network, and National Geographic. His video work for National Geographic led to Jefferson's long-running association with Dr. Bill Bass, who initiated the Body Farm, a plot of land set aside for corpses that aids in the study of the parameters crucial to time since death estimates, in 1980 at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. During the course of making two National Geographic films about the Body Farm, he became friends with Bass, who asked Jefferson to collaborate with him on a memoir. One book led to another, and another, and a best-selling series was born.

Raised in the small town of Guntersville, Alabama, Jefferson discovered a love of books at an early age, in the town's two-room public library, where he devoured the playful works of Dr. Seuss before diving into the darker world of crime fiction with the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. His love for storytelling also has familial, genetic roots: his Granddaddy Jefferson loved nothing better than to fill his pipe with Prince Albert tobacco, light up, and launch into a tale with the question, "Did I ever tell you about the time ... ?"

Jefferson's first real audience was a handful of elderly church parishioners: During his last two years of high school, he served as a student lay pastor in the United Methodist Church, conducting worship services two Sundays a month at a small country church. As a high school senior, he was named a National Merit Scholar, a winner in the National Council of Teachers of English writing contest, and a Presidential Scholar (one of only two from Alabama). He won a full scholarship to Birmingham-Southern College, where he edited the college's literary magazine and graduated summa cum laude. He did graduate study in English and comparative literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, funded by an endowed fellowship.

Praise for Jon Jefferson's Keynote Presentations:

"We were extremely pleased with Jon Jefferson as our speaker for our fundraiser. He was personable, thoughtful, well-spoken and, most of all, a fascinating speaker. Our guests truly enjoyed meeting him at the book-signing and listening to his talk. There were many comments on how they could have heard him talk 'all night.'"
-- Linda Rajcevich, Director of Volunteer Services, Nebraska Methodist Hospital

"Jon was a speaker at PINC in the Netherlands. His talk was enthralling, the attendees were noiseless. Jon started his talk in a very special way, so everybody was involved immediately. He did not do a PowerPoint presentation, but a personal talk, which made it far better. At the end of the day, including 16 speakers, he was one of the favorites!"
-- Nelleke Van Lindonk, Owner & Director, PINC Conferences

"Jon Jefferson was the final author on our Opus & Olives program (800+ guests/author gala) and he charmed the audience! The subject matter of his popular series about the Body Farm is serious stuff but Jefferson is warm and witty and ever-so-personable. He's a terrific writer and an even better speaker."
-- Sue Hall, Opus & Olives Coordinator with the Friends of the St. Paul Library

Praise for The Inquisitor's Key:

"The real deal."
-- Kathy Reichs

"The Sherlock Holmes for bones."
-- Katherine Ramsland, author of The Forensic Science of C.S.I.

Praise for The Devil's Bones:

"The Sherlock Holmes for bones has arrived ... A privileged glimpse into the world of a ground-breaking pioneer."
-- Katherine Ramsland, author of The Forensic Science of C.S.I.

Praise for Bones of Betrayal:

"This series ... just keeps getting better. [Bones of Betrayal] features both the most compelling story and the best portrayal yet of Brockton, who has completed the transition from fictional representation of coauthor Bass to fully realized protagonist."
-- Booklist