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Jon Courtenay Grimwood

Jon Courtenay Grimwood

‘Born in Malta, 10 weeks early following a water-skiing accident, Jon Courtenay Grimwood was kept from his family and cared for by Catholic nuns for the first week in case he died…’

So began a biog issued as a press release by Simon & Schuster back in the days when reMix had just been published, and redRobe was being written with the help of a lot of Dutch Trance. It continued:

‘During this period the ghost of a black-robbed priest was seen bending over his crib. Christened in the upturned bell of a destroyer, he spent his early years in a house on the walls of Valetta, Malta. Sent to an English boarding school at the age of 7, he retaliated by demolishing the heraldic beasts on a great wooden staircase in his frenzied search for (non-existent) buried treasure. Moved to another school, he lived for his summers spent in the Far East. His first brush with mysticism came when a fakir on a breach in Penang tried to teach him, without success, to turn a piece of driftwood into a snake and back again…’

All true. Although now, grown old and cynical, Jon suspects he kept the snake sewn into a pocket into his robe and found a way of hiding his stick. The piece ends:

‘He now lives with his son in North London, tries to spend a month each summer at a small house in the mountains in Spain and is currently writing his fourth novel…’

That’s the untrue bit. The flat in North London is gone, the house in the mountains is sold, the boy’s grown and living in the Far East and he’s writing his sixteenth novel. These days the biog is shorter and simpler.

Jon Courtenay Grimwood was born in Malta and christened in the upturned bell of a ship. He grew up in the Far East, Britain and Scandinavia. He has written for The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Independent.

Felaheen, the third of his novels featuring Asraf Bey, a half-Berber detective, won the BSFA Award for Best Novel. So did End of the World Blues, about a British sniper absent without leave from Iraq and running an Irish bar in Tokyo. His novels have been shortlisted for numerous other awards including the Arthur C Clarke Award and the John W Campbell.

His work is published in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Russian, Turkish, Japanese, Danish, Finnish, Dutch and American, among others.

As well as genre, he writes literary fiction as Jonathan Grimwood. Both versions of him are married to the journalist and novelist Sam Baker. They divide their time between Winchester and Paris.

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