realthog: (city in pages)

My short story "Lives", which originally appeared in Ellen Datlow's ([ profile] ellen_datlow's) anthology Inferno, has been picked up for audio treatment by Pseudopod, "the world’s premier horror fiction podcast". I'm obviously thrilled to bits about this.

I don't yet know who the reader will be or when they'll be running the piece, but fear not: closer to the time you will be fed the information. Incessantly.

realthog: (Default)

There's another long and very favourable review -- a near-rave, I'd say -- of Ellen Datlow's ([personal profile] ellen_datlow's) anthology Inferno, this one posted by [ profile] csecooney. The best bits:

On most of my train rides I end up staring out the window, hoping to cultivate what my father calls, "a fertile boredom," that will eventually chafe me into a restless act of creation. But some days, I'm in a fever of productivity. And some short stories, I find, rather than making me want to kick something in unfulfilled frustration, can instead create perfect sinkholes in reality, sucking you down into infinitesimal and terrible worlds that last the length of a nightmare.

So with Datlow's INFERNO.
[. . .]

LIVES was just... lovely. Cold, sick and lovely.

If you don't have time to read the first two quoted paras above, just read the last one.

realthog: (leavingfortusa)

In the new issue of the print magazine Dead Reckonings there's an excellent review by June Pulliam of Ellen Datlow's ([personal profile] ellen_datlow's) award-winning anthology Inferno, in which I'm privileged to have a story.

I'm obviously tongue-tied with modesty over the fact that my story, "Lives", is one of those singled out for a thumbs-up; I might perhaps be less coy were it not that it's one of those very nice references that doesn't readily adapt to quotation out of context.

The review ends:

In his introduction to The Modern Weird Tale, S.T. Joshi says that he considers horror to be a subset of weird fiction rather than the other way around since horror is less inclusive, and has to be subdivided into supernatural and non-supernatural in order to accommodate all the types of fiction that publishers and fans thrust beneath its umbrella. The stories collected in Inferno validate Joshi’s definition in how they cannot easily be defined by any parameters of horror or its various subgenres, but instead, subtly blend many of its tropes in ways that transcend the often narrow definition of horror.

realthog: (Default)

This time it's by doyen reviewer Peter Tennant in the print magazine Black Static (used to be The Third Alternative). Here are the bits everyone's fighting to read:

Reviewing Inferno (Tor paperback, 384pp, $15.95) feels very much like a case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. Originally issued in hardback in 2007, and billed as ‘New Tales of Terror and the Supernatural’, the anthology has snapped up the International Horror Guild Award, the World Fantasy Award and the Shirley Jackson Award, which should tell you more about the quality of work it contains than anything I can say, but I’ll venture a few words anyway. [. . .]

There's another father and son relationship at the centre of “Lives” by John Grant, a fascinating piece about a young man who cannot be killed, though all around him are going down like flies. The idea here holds the attention all the way, the possibilities inherent in being the one who always survives, and the anguish that causes for both the character and those in his life. [. . .]

realthog: (Default)

. . . this time by [personal profile] foresthouse, who's been kind enough to single out my story "Lives" for a mention. You can find the full review at, but here's the juicy stuff:

Every story in the anthology is well written and interesting. Every one creates a complex microcosm of character and scene within which the horror begins to unfold. While there were one or two stories that didn't grab my attention as much, almost all of them grabbed it, held it, and wouldn't let it go until I reached the end of the story. Not only were most of the stories quite enjoyable (and scary), but several were so well-written or chilling as to be, in my opinion, perfect little jewels of stories. Since the anthology is well-stocked with twenty stories, I'll just mention a few of my favorites.


Lives, by John Grant

Grant twists one of our greatest fears and turns it on its head. The narrator actually begins to wish for the thing he's been fearing to happen, because what occurs when the event fails to happen is worse than what would be if it did. The writing is compelling, and evokes that sense of breathlessness you get when you know whatever happens next, even if it seems innocuous, will turn out to be bad. There's also a nice stylistic and thematic twist that you pick up on part-way through.

That's all cheery fodder for this humble scribe, and much appreciated!

realthog: (Default)

So I started writing this piece about our expedition yesterday for me to read at the KGB Bar in Manhattan: the reading was by four authors with stories in the [personal profile] ellen_datlow  anthology Inferno. I'm currently ruing my bravado in undergoing this trip, flu-buggered as I am; we got home at about 1am, with me in such a comatic state that poor [profile] pds_lit  was subjected to me being  jolly.

There are depths.

Pam is currently slumbering. We'd assumed she'd missed out on the super-extra-nasty flu that hit me last Thursday/Friday (how come you rarely got hit by these bugs in the past, Paul? because I was a slave to Socialized Medicine, I confess it, wot a total bumhead I am), but we seem to have been wrong.

My description of the KGB wonderama was destroyed by LJ's software because I couldn't recall offhand Elizabeth Bear's LJ name. I went away to look, and by the time I got back there was a blank page.

So: My co-readers were Nathan Ballingrud ([profile] nballingrud ), Elizabeth "Difficult Moniker To Remember" Bear ([personal profile] matociquala ) and Jeffrey Ford ([profile] 14theditch ). I think we did OK. I was just amazed that my voice held up.

Whatever, forget my egocentric crap: go over to [profile] pastorbear , who's in real difficulties. She's worth far more than this stuff.

UPDATE: Ellen Datlow has put pix at
realthog: (Me at Arizona Meteor Crater)

Just a reminder:
Nathan Ballingrud, Elizabeth Bear, Jeffrey Ford and John Grant (er, me) read from the stories they contributed to Ellen Datlow's Stoker Award-shortlisted anthology, Inferno.
The place: KGB Bar, 85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave, upstairs).
The time: Wednesday February 20th at 7pm.
The free drinks: How kind of you to offer.

realthog: (Default)

realthog: (Default)

Ellen Datlow's anthology Inferno, which came out just before Christmas, has received yet another nice review, this time by Colin Harvey on the suite101 website. You can see the whole of it at; the last paragraph reads thus:

But the very best of the many fine stories in Inferno are by lesser-known writers; ‘Lives,’ by John Grant, for its original revisiting of an old theme, Lee Thomas’ ‘An Apiary of White Bees,’ for its disturbing conflation of pain and pleasure, and ‘The Janus Tree,’ Glen Hirschberg’s acute portrayal of teenage love, pain and possession in a dying Montana mining town. But the very best story in the collection, if good fiction makes the reader look at the world slightly differently, is ‘Stilled Lives,’ by Pat Cadigan, which tells an eerie story of street performers, their hidden lives, and the statuary of London; it’s the outstanding story in an outstanding anthology.

realthog: (Jim's bear pic)
 A mini-review of Ellen Datlow's new anthology Inferno appeared on the Romantic Times site sometime before the end of the year (to judge by internal evidence). Here's a taster:

Twenty very different stories compose this collection, but as Datlow writes in her introduction, there are no demonic children, witches or vampires -- but plenty of other monsters to keep you on your toes. Highlights include Pat Cadigan's "Stilled Life," John Grant's "Lives," and Lee Thomas' "An Apiary of White Bees."

There's not a whole lot more to see than this, but it's all good. Check it out at


Jan. 7th, 2008 03:27 pm
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Nicholas Kaufmann has just posted at Fearzone an enthusiastic review of the new Ellen Datlow anthology Inferno. Here's part of what Kaufmann has to say (the full review is at

And what a feast it is! . . . Among the highlights to be found in Inferno's twenty tales are Laird Barron's "The Forest," which joins his growing oeuvre of Lovecraftian stories that focus compellingly on his richly drawn characters while relegating the beasties to the background; Nathan Ballingrud's "The Monsters of Heaven," the hypnotically surreal tale of a missing child (a theme that, interestingly, recurs numerous times throughout the anthology) and the wounded, angel-like creatures that have started falling to earth all over the world; John Grant's "Lives," which brilliantly turns the child-in-jeopardy trope on its head in a way that would spoil the pleasure of discovery to describe here; Lee Thomas' "An Apiary of White Bees," about a man torn between his outwardly perfect life and his true desires who discovers a magical elixir that begins to meld the two in dangerous ways; and what may very well be the best piece of fiction I've read all year, Glen Hirshberg's "The Janus Tree." Hirshberg's story has enough complexity, vivid detail and character development in its thirty pages to fill an entire novel. When I was done reading it, I needed several additional hours to pull myself out of the world he so skillfully created. "The Janus Tree" is worth Inferno's price tag alone.

Loud huzzahs not just for Ellen but, obviously, for Glen Hirshberg (my wax effigy of whom is consequently suffering heavy punishment right now). It's a long time since I've seen a reviewer so affected by a single story: hearty congratulations.


Jan. 3rd, 2008 10:29 am
realthog: (Jim's bear pic)
I now at last have in my hot-handed possession a copy of the new Ellen Datlow anthology Inferno, and a mighty fine and handsome tome it is -- this in spite of its containing a story by me.

Also safely arrived is the latest review of the book, this time by reviewer Rod Lott in the webzine Bookgasm ( The relevant bits read:

Equally as creepy [as Chris Fowler's "The Uninvited", which this reviewer hails as "the showpiece of Inferno"] is “Lives,” from John Grant, in which a child inexplicably has a knack for surviving tragedy after tragedy. Ironically, doing so rips his family apart. . . . More established masters [might] have elevated [Inferno], but its bold choice to give ink to even bolder new voices will pay off both now and in the long run.

realthog: (morgan brighteyes)
Well, not so much a review of the book as a quick review of three of its stories -- those by E. Bear, L. Shepard and M. Forbids -- at (The comments appeared 'way back on October 12, long before I'd started this journal: hence my oversight.) The comment about the M. Forbids story -- which, just as a reminder in case of confusion y'understand, is called "Lives" -- reads thus:

"Lives," by John Grant, Inferno - a chilling story about a man's growing realisation about his son's ability to survive (or cause?) so many horrible disasters.
realthog: (Jim's bear pic)

. . . and this time by Elizabeth A. Allen in the webzine The Fix (the short-fiction-review sibling of Interzone, Black Static, etc.):

Allen quibbles about a few of the stories but overall seems mightily impressed by the level of the contributions. Natch, the first thing I did, rather than read the review from start to finish, was scrabble down through Allen's story-by-story coverage seeking mention of mine own item. Here are her comments:

Death happens whenever Christopher is near. Or, more specifically, Christopher brings death and disaster, but he himself always escapes it. Accidents, disasters, and tragedies consume his family members, but he remains unscathed. His father, the one telling this story in “Lives” by John Grant, becomes increasingly disturbed by Christopher’s continuing unbreakability. Perhaps the two are more similar than the father cares to admit? Grant weaves a suspenseful story about the double-edged sword of superpowers, which bring great good fortune and great loneliness simultaneously, and he successfully balances the portrayal of Christopher so you’re not quite sure if this kid is intentionally destructive. At the same time, the melancholy undercurrent of the father seeing himself in his son’s character gives “Lives” a philosophical and poignant ring.

I'm not 100% sure I thought I was writing about "the double-edged sword of superpowers", but I'm happy to live with Allen's analysis. It's interesting that the several reviewers so far of the anthology have produced the same number of different interpretations of "Lives". I think this is a good thing!
realthog: (Default)

And now there's been a further excellent review for the new Ellen Datlow anthology Inferno, this time in the prestigious Booklist. The reviewer singles out just three stories for special mention . . . and I'm far too modest to say any more on that particular subject other than that in the same company as Steve Gallagher and Joyce Carol Oates strikes me as a damn' good place to be.

The review concludes:

Eschewing many of the horror genre’s common motifs, the stories here achieve unsettling effects with less mayhem and more pure craftsmanship, so that this is one of the best recent collections of horror as literature.

realthog: (Jim's bear pic)
The imminently forthcoming Ellen Datlow anthology Inferno: Twenty Original Tales of Terror (Tor, December), in which there's a story by moi, is garnering some great advance reviews. In Fantasy Magazine Paula Guran, no less, starts off thus (

Seeking a definition of “modern horror” or “literary horror”? Look no further. Inferno, edited by Ellen Datlow, defines short dark fiction circa 2008 as surely as Kirby McCauley’s Dark Forces did in 1980.

adding, in the course of a long review, that "there’s not a bad story in the bunch". Eventually my own humble offering appears:

John Grant’s “Lives” is memorable for its twisted answer to one of those questions you may not want to ask again after you read his story: If there are those who have incredible luck, what might that mean for those around them without it?

Library Journal likes the book too ("All of the stories are wisely chosen and deserve attention and comment"), while PW ( has made it one of its picks in a Best of the Year roundup ("Datlow offers a state-of-the-art anthology of 20 new stories by some of horror fiction's best and brightest"). And Nick Gevers gives it the thumbs-up in the current issue of Locus:

. . . the quality of the prose is high, and many of the contributions are triumphs of construction, bringing plot and metaphor together in resounding harmony. The impression, to a critic who doesn’t read overmuch horror, is of a genre recovering from its big commercial setbacks and yearning to assume a major market position once more. . . . The list of strong stories continues . . . “Lives” by John Grant turns to suspenseful humor in its portrait of a boy with many lives to call upon but one short of the necessary . . . Inferno delivers in full on its awful premise, and Ellen Datlow stands on the same plinth as Dante, if only in fright-coordinating echo. More anthologies like Inferno . . . should be urgent priorities. It’s very clear that horror at short length is poised for a major revival, and the commercial stimulus must, as here, be applied, and on a large scale . . .

All very cheering, eh?

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