Born in Philadelphia in 1947, Morrow spent his adolescent years making short 8mm fantasy films with his friends, including adaptations of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart. His affection for satiric and philosophical fiction comes largely from the novels he studied in his high-school World Literature course.
After receiving a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1969, then a master's degree from Harvard University in 1971, Morrow worked for several years as an English teacher, a cartoonist, and an independent filmmaker. Between 1977 and 1978 he produced the manuscript of his first novel, The Wine of Violence, and shortly afterwards became addicted to writing fiction.
Morrow now lives in State College, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Kathryn, his twelve-year-old son, Christopher, and two enigmatic dogs: Pooka, a Border collie, and Amtrak, a stray Doberman that Jim and Kathy rescued from a train station in Orlando, Florida. He devotes his leisure hours to his family, his Lionel toy electric trains, and his video collection of vulgar Biblical spectacles.