S.L. Grey

S.L. Grey is a collaboration between Sarah Lotz and Louis Greenberg. Sarah is a novelist and screenwriter and die-hard zombie fanatic. Louis is a fiction writer and editor.


Sarah and Louis at the Cymera Festival, 8 June 2019

Louis at the Outcast Hours Q&A, 22 February 2019

Louis at the Franschhoek Literary Festival, 13-15 May 2016

Sarah at the Post-Apocalyptic Book Club, Waterstones Picadilly, 30 July 2015

Louis at the South African Book Fair, Johannesburg, 31 July - 2 August 2015

Reviews and interviews

Find out more about S.L. Grey here.


A new S.L. Grey story

"The Dental Gig", our story about the work pressures of a modern tooth fairy, is included in The Outcast Hours, edited by Mahvesh Murad and Jared Shurin. It's a slick, dark, glittery anthology filled with the night-time imaginings of writers from six continents. It's coming in February 2019, and you can read more and get pre-order links here.

The anthology includes work by Marina Warner, China Miéville, Frances Hardinge, Will Hill, Sally Partridge, Jesse Bullington, Jeffrey Alan Love, Kuzhali Manickavel, Amira Salah-Ahmed, Cecilia Ekbäck, Celeste Baker, Karen Onojaife, Daniel Polansky, Genevieve Valentine, Indrapramit Das, Leah Moore, Sam Beckbessinger, Sami Shah, and many more.

We promised we'd be back to short storying with our tongues in our cheeks; we didn't know it would take five years! Soz.



Danish book trailer for The Apartment

Gads Forlag, who've done an amazing job of spreading the Grey in Denmark, have produced a moody artwork of a book trailer for Lejligheden, the Danish edition of The Apartment. Thank you to Gads and our Danish readers - and to all of our international publishers who are putting such joy and creativity into trying to scare their readers off their holidays!

If you can't view the YouTube video above, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xs1ooz8FmLM, and remember to check our Writing page for available publishers' links.



Das Apartment released today

The Apartment is released in Germany today. Our wonderful German publishers, Heyne Verlag, have done an amazing, committed job selling Under Ground, and we hope Das Apartment does well for them too.

We've been delighted by the thoughtful comments and reactions of our German readers - and our readers across Europe: The Apartment has had good reviews in Denmark and Hungary so far too. Thank you to all our European readers, translators and publishers for taking the chance on us, and especially to Heyne for making such a great effort to sell our books.

You can read some of the European reviews here:

The Apartment is also available or forthcoming in French, German, Dutch, Russian, Italian, Hungarian, Korean, Thai, Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Danish, Spanish, Hebrew and Polish editions. (Check our Writing page for available publishers' links.)



March hair: The Apartment hits the UK; European Under Ground

The long wait for UK readers is nearly over: The Apartment will be published in paperback in the UK on 23 March 2017 (UK paperback cover pictured). The trade paperback was released in the Commonwealth and Ireland in July last year, and in the US in October 2016.

The Apartment has been sold in fourteen additional languages, and the film option has been bought by Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment.

The Apartment got some great early reviews from US trade publications:

Kirkus writes, "There are moments of true scariness that emerge from a sustained, deep-seated sense of discomfort...Chills and thrills enough to attract and please fans of supernatural horror. This one will keep you up all night."

While Booklist says, "Grey, a pseudonym for Sarah Lotz (The Three, 2014) and Louis Greenberg, believably corners the couple in an unwinnable situation eerily familiar to anyone who’s had a vacation go awry. The ante is viscerally upped every new day—a creepy neighbor, an unnerving wax museum, an animal death, and visions of Mark’s dead child from a previous marriage...Bonus: features the scariest haircut scene possibly ever."

South African reveiwers have called it "seamless and terrifying" and "superbly creepy". Click here for all the latest reviews.

Meanwhile, Under Ground is reaching new readers across the world. The German edition was on the bestseller lists since its release there in November 2016, and the French edition, due on 9 March 2017, is gathering some happy early reviews. Under Ground is also available in Korean, Dutch and Turkish, with more translations on the way.


The Apartment's first release and some early reviews

The Apartment's first edition, for Commonwealth and Ireland and UK airside stores, is published today by Pan Macmillan! The major US release by Blumhouse Books / Vintage Books & Anchor Books is coming in October, and the UK paperback will be released in March 2017. Our brilliant rights agents at A.M. Heath have added Japanese and Thai rights to the existing collection of French, German, Dutch, Russian, Italian, Hungarian, Chinese and Taiwanese.

The Apartment has got some great early reviews from US trade publications:

Kirkus writes, "There are moments of true scariness that emerge from a sustained, deep-seated sense of discomfort...Chills and thrills enough to attract and please fans of supernatural horror. This one will keep you up all night."

While Booklist says, "Grey, a pseudonym for Sarah Lotz (The Three, 2014) and Louis Greenberg, believably corners the couple in an unwinnable situation eerily familiar to anyone who’s had a vacation go awry. The ante is viscerally upped every new day—a creepy neighbor, an unnerving wax museum, an animal death, and visions of Mark’s dead child from a previous marriage...Bonus: features the scariest haircut scene possibly ever."

Some brilliant authors have read and liked the book too:

"Gripping, creepy as hell, and the dread will linger for days afterwards."
--Lauren Beukes, author of The Shining Girls and Broken Monsters

"Dark and deeply disturbing. Trust me--this tense and frightening piece of horror is not for kids--or for the faint-of-heart. I'm still shuddering."
--R.L. Stine, New York Times bestselling author of Goosebumps and Fear Street

“The Apartment is a perfectly crafted, deeply unsettling thriller: a portrait of a marriage unraveling, of the haunting and the haunted, and the idea that grief might be a door that can let other horrific things in.  This book had me turning on all the lights, checking under the bed and in the closet, and savoring every terrifying page.”
--Jennifer McMahon, New York Times bestselling author of The Night Sister

As ever, watch this space for more information when we get it.



An early viewing of The Apartment

At last, we have something official to show you of The Apartment! Regardez: the sublimely creepy Blumhouse Books / Vintage Books & Anchor Books US jacket. 

The Apartment's published in the US this October, and in South Africa, Ireland and the Commonwealth in September. If you're in the UK, though, you'll have to wait til March 2017. Or smuggle one of the others, of course. Translations into French, German, Dutch, Russian, Italian and Hungarian, and Chinese and Taiwanese editions are currently being prepared.

Here's Blumhouse's jacket copy
"A haunting and riveting thriller about a troubled married couple whose vacation leads them into a nightmare.

Mark and Steph have a relatively happy family with their young daughter in sunny Cape Town until one day when armed men in balaclavas break in to their home. Left traumatized but physically unharmed, Mark and Steph are unable to return to normal and live in constant fear. When a friend suggests a restorative vacation abroad via a popular house swapping website, it sounds like the perfect plan. They find a genial, artistic couple with a charming apartment in Paris who would love to come to Cape Town. Mark and Steph can’t resist the idyllic, light-strewn pictures, and the promise of a romantic getaway. But once they arrive in Paris, they quickly realize that nothing is as advertised. When their perfect holiday takes a violent turn, the cracks in their marriage grow ever wider and dark secrets from Mark's past begin to emerge.

Deftly weaving together two complex and compelling narrators, S.L. Grey builds an intimate and chilling novel of a disintegrating marriage in the wake of a very real trauma. The Apartment is a terrifying tour-de-force of horror, psychological thrills, and haunting suspense."

Watch this space for more information when we get it.

On the subject of brilliant covers, the Pan Macmillan jacket for the Commonwealth export trade paperback is finalised too. Another thing of beauty from the Pan Macmillan art department.



Under Ground published in paperback

The paperback edition of Under Ground is published today in the United Kingdom and will be reaching the Commonwealth soon. You can buy it wherever you buy good books.

Macmillan editor, Louise Buckley, recently wrote a blog post about the paperback cover and the thinking that goes into repackaging a paperback edition. Read all about it here.



Major US publishing deal for The Apartment

Good news for American readers! Blumhouse Books will be publishing The Apartment this October! Blumhouse Books is an imprint of Anchor Books run by Jason Blum, producer of Paranormal Activity, Insidious and other modern horror classics. Anchor's part of the Knopf Doubleday / Penguin Random House Group, so the book is in excellent and horrible good hands and will be widely available in the US and Canada. Blumhouse is our first American publisher, so we're thrilled to parts.



S.L. Grey's top 5 thrillers in unusual locations

To celebrate next the paperback release of Under Ground, we told the Tor UK blog about our five top thrillers with unusual settings. They include the brilliant South African novels, Power Play by Mike Nicol and Young Blood by Sifiso Mzobe:


Power Play, Mike Nicol

South African crime king Mike Nicol has no hesitation in populating his novels with hectic characters with dubious morals and placing them in hectic and dubious locations. In his latest, Power Play, there’s an unforgettable scene in a dinghy floating in shark-infested waters off Cape Point. Nicol’s use of recognisably real and fascinating locations combined with scandalous action makes you believe that the skulduggery in his novels can and does take place in reality. 

Young BloodSifiso Mzobe

Young Blood’s setting – Umlazi Township in Durban – isn’t unusual for us as we’re from South Africa, but it’s a good excuse for us to give a shout out for a novel that deserves to be more widely read. Exploring the ins and outs of the stolen car trade, it deservedly won the Sunday Times fiction prize, SA’s top literary honour, and cemented Mzobe’s position as not only an author to watch, but the go-to guy for any writers needing research info on the ins and outs of car theft.

Click here to read on for the full list.



Louis interviewed on Radio Today

Louis recently spoke to Sue Grant-Marshall on Radio Today about Under Ground and S.L. Grey's Downside trio. Try the embedded podcast player above, or click here to hear the interview.

As always, check here for a list of the latest S.L. Grey reviews and interviews.



Get to know S.L. Grey

Under Ground is published today in the United Kingdom and will be reaching the Commonwealth soon. Editions in Dutch, German, French, Spanish and Korean are also being prepared. Pan Macmillan, our new English publishers, interviewed us to get to introduce us to our readers new and old, asking abour our favourite and formative books and characters. You can tell a lot by what people keep on their bookshelves!

Tell us your top five crime and thriller novels of all time?

Louis: If I have to choose just five, I’d go for:

  1. The Secret History by Donna Tartt: I was a self-absorbed student at the time; these smart and nasty characters were aspirational to me.
  2. Killer Country by Mike Nicol: Nicol is my favourite writer of noir crime. He gets to the root of South Africa’s ills with a perfect ear and incomparable styling. You come out of the book thinking in the rhythms of the characters.
  3. City of Glass from The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster, because our drive to solve mysteries is a psychological desire for impossible completion. (I might sneak The City & The City and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle into this line.)
  4. Enigma by Robert Harris: Harris has a unique ability to present meticulously researched historical settings and events in riveting, page-turning plots. You run with the characters and stories and feel like you’re learning something at the same time.
  5. Under the Skin by Michel Faber: the best example of creeping dread. Not much happens and the space and the silence are terrifying. Jonathan Glazer’s film version was an excellent adaptation of the spirit of the novel.

 Sarah: Painful to choose just five, but here goes:
  1.  Black Heart by Mike Nicol. The third in Mike Nicol’s Revenge Trilogy, (Louis’s choice, Killer Country, is the second). Heartily agree with Louis’s comments about Nicol’s noirish stylishness, plus he’s the king of killer dialogue.
  2. Freedomland by Richard Price. I’ve read this about twenty times. A master-class in dialogue and atmosphere, it skewers lazy preconceptions about race.
  3. The Cutting Room byLouise Welsh. This unputdownable and stylish thriller is laced with delicious black humour, and has a vicious yet sympathetic protagonist.
  4. Little Children by Tom Perotta. Like Price, Perotta scalpels straight through the heart of American society, and is fearless when it comes to so-called difficult subjects (in this case, paedophilia). He’s also witty as hell.
  5. Joyland by Stephen King. If there is such a thing as a flawless novel, this is it. Full of heart, and the ending made me sob.

What’s the first book you remember falling in love with?

Louis: Johnny Lion’s Book by Edith Thatcher Hurd. It's about a lonely little lion who gets carried away into an imaginative adventure by a book. I am Johnny; stories still spice up my ordinary life.
Sarah: The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner. I can still remember staying up all night to finish it.
Which book do you wish you had written and why?

Read on for the full interview...

As always, check here for a list of our latest reviews and interviews.



"Somewhere in the world, there's always an S.L. Grey novel being written"

Pan Macmillan recently asked Louis about the collaborative process between him and Sarah, and how they met.

Sarah and I met online at bookslive.co.za, which at the time was not only the internet newspaper about South African books, but also a forum where writers could chat, joke and commiserate together. The social functions of the site have been taken over by Facebook and Twitter since, but the site was important in introducing several writers to one another and allowing us to work together.
In 2009, I commissioned a collection of short stories, Home Away, from authors I only could have known through BooksLive, and Sarah was among them. She wrote a zombie story set in Botswana. Later that year, my family and I went on holiday to Cape Town, and Sarah hosted a party at her house, which is when I first met her in person.

A few months later, Sarah came up to Johannesburg for a crime fiction seminar at the University of Witwatersrand, where I was studying for my doctorate. 

Read on for the full article...



A thorough interview with S.L. Grey

Top UK independent horror review site, The Ginger Nuts of Horror, recently engaged us in a wide-ranging interview that covered all three of the Downside novels as well as our new one, Under Ground. Here's an extract:

Hello, how are things with the pair of you?

L: Fine, thanks. Between us, we usually average out; while one of us is having a crisis of some sort, the other’s calm and happy. Sarah’s in summery Shropshire and I’m in wintery Johannesburg, so we tend to meet in the moderate middle.

For those who don’t know who is S.L. Grey, and why did you chose Grey as your ‘surname”

L: We are Sarah Lotz, a novelist and scriptwriter who’s divided her time between the UK and Cape Town, South Africa, and Louis Greenberg, a novelist and editor born, bred and based in Johannesburg.

As I remember it, we wanted a simple and neutral sounding name for our collaborative persona. It helps that Greys are certain breed of hermetic Downsiders in The Mall particularly, and that the mannequins on our first-ever book jacket were grey. We like the idea of blending into the background and pulling the strings from behind the scenes.

How did the pair of you come to work together?

L: In mid-2009, Sarah came up to Johannesburg to speak at a crime colloquium at the university where I was finishing my doctorate. We’d been in touch before – she’d written a short story about zombies in Botswana for an anthology I’d just put together, and we’d met in Cape Town once. We bunked the afternoon session, had a few drinks in the student pub, and discussed our mutual interest in horror and decided to write a novel together. I’d just quit my day job, so I was in the position to jump straight in. By the end of the year, we’d drafted The Mall.

I’ll assume that this is a process that you both enjoy, as you are about to publish your fourth novel together?

L: Absolutely, and we’ve just finished drafting our fifth book together, due out next year. We’ve managed to keep the same, matching desire and work ethic over the last six years and we’ve retained the sense of trust and respect for each other we’ve had from the start. I think that’s quite rare, and we’re lucky.

Read on for the full interview...

The Ginger Nuts of Horror also gave Under Ground a fine review, saying "Under Ground is a brilliant modern take on the last man standing type of novel crossed with a tense Towering Inferno sense of being trapped in a burning cage. It will grab your attention from the first chapter and have you hooked right up to the perfect ending." Read the whole review here, and check here for a list of our latest reviews and interviews.



Pretty (creepy) cover for Under Ground

Pan Macmillan has just finalised the cover for The UK hardback release of Under Ground. Isn't it pretty?

Fear runs deep ...

Under Ground will be published in the UK in July 2015 and will reach the Commonwealth in August. Editions in Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Korean and Turkish are also coming.





The Under Ground proofs are printed

In the next dose of teasing for Under Ground, Pan Macmillan recently released a picture of the proof copies ready to go out to reviewers.

Fear runs deep ...

They also shared a titillating tagline for the book: "They're trapped fifty feet down ... and someone wants them six feet under."

Under Ground will be published in the UK in July 2015 and will reach the Commonwealth in August. Editions in Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Korean and Turkish are also coming.





First look at Under Ground in the 2015-2016 Tor Sampler

Look at this pretty thing. A sampler of Tor's 2015-16 debuts, with chapters from The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman, Starborn by Lucy Hounsom, False Hearts by L.R. Lam, Truthwitch by Susan Dennaro ... and Under Ground by S.L. Grey!
The sampler was available at LonCon3 in mid-August and will apparently be floating around other events for the next few months.
Under Ground, our fourth novel and first with Pan Macmillan, will be published in the middle of 2015. It starts to breathe.



The New Girl longlisted for Sunday Times Fiction Prize

We were suprised and very pleased to see The New Girl on the Sunday Times Fiction Prize longlist. The Prize is one of South Africa's most prestigious awards for fiction. We commend the Administration for its alacrity. Have a look here at all the varied and exciting 2014 longlisted books.




S.L. Grey books in North America!

We're very pleased to let you know that the Downside trio will be available all over North America this year.

The Mall, The Ward and The New Girl are already available in Canada. In the US, The Mall will be released in April 2014, The Ward in June 2014 and The New Girl in August 2014. If you love reading, help defend the book trade around the world by buying local, independent or national before supporting multinational retail conglomerates.

Click here for reviews and more details about the Downside trio.



S.L. Grey visits Lauren Beukes's The Spark

Lauren Beukes recently hosted us on her blog's The Spark series, where she invited us to write about the genesis of The New Girl:

It was raining. Hard.
On the way from the flat, Louis’ younger son, Thing 2, had been blown across the road to the bus stop. Thing 1 watched him go, folded down his umbrella and clenched his teeth into the gale. When the bus came, they squished on board like three saline creatures that had been blown with the scum over the ballustrade of the Mouille Point promenade.
‘I want to go home,’ he whined. ‘We don’t have to use bloody umbrellas at home in Joburg.’
‘It’s not that bad.’
‘It is!’ he moaned. ‘I thought this holiday was going to be fun, but it sucks.’
‘There, there.’
‘I’m cold and wet and miserable.’
‘Come on, Dad, cheer up,’ Thing 1 said, damply. ‘We’re going to play mini-golf with Sarah!’
‘Yay!’ chirped Thing 2, before his jaw locked in an involuntary spasm.
‘Winter holiday in Cape Town. We must have been mad,’ Louis grumbled.

They found Sarah at the Scratch Patch and Golf Cave at the Waterfront. The mini-golf was quite exciting, not because of the tight scoreline, but because water was dripping through the light fixtures in the low faux-rock ceilings and along threadbare wires into the sodden green baize of the course. Every time Thing 1 played a good shot he waved his club in the air, swishing the metal shaft millimetres from the exposed cords.

‘We’d better talk about the plot for the next book,’ Sarah said.

Read the rest of the riveting tale here.



Collectible Downside e-cards!

To celebrate the launch of our new website here at slgrey.com (which Louis cloned - appropriately, we thought - from his own website, which is why it might look familiar to some of you) we're sharing some of the cards we made for a Downside online role-playing game that we ran out of time (and skill) to make.

These images are all inspired by scenes from The Mall; Sarah drew the pictures and Louis digitised them. We quite like the fact that the pictures are homeless and stunted and and unfulfilled and beautiful and hope you like them too. Here are the first eight. If there's interest, we'll post the rest in the coming months, and we could make some higher-res versions to distribute.


Browse Downside CardCellphone Downside CardFear Downside CardFood Downside Card

Map Downside CardToilet Downside CardRun Downside CardWorker Downside Card



Pan Macmillan to publish two new S.L. Grey books

It's a very happy day for S.L. Grey. Apart from being the launch date of our third book, The New Girl, we are delighted to announce that Pan Macmillan has bought UK and Commonwealth rights to publish the next two S.L. Grey novels. Julie Crisp, Pan Macmillan's editorial director, has shared the news on the Tor UK blog.

Sarah and I are thrilled to be joining such a fine stable of writers and are grateful for Julie and her team's warm enthusiasm for our upcoming projects. We're also immensely thankful to Oli Munson, our agent of steel, and Jennifer Custer and Hélène Ferey in A.M. Heath's international rights department for working tirelessly to spread our twisty tales around the world. They've already placed the next book in France, Germany and the Netherlands. And huge thanks to Laura Palmer and Corvus for taking the initial brave chance on us.

Julie Crisp's press release offers the first sneak preview of Underground, our next novel, which will be published by Pan Macmillan in mid-2015. We wanted to come up with something fresh, but not lose the claustrophobic thrills our readers have become used to.



S.L. Grey story, mesmerisingly read

The Lowest Heaven cover by Joey Hi-Fi"We'll Always Be Here", the story S.L. Grey wrote for Jurassic's science fiction anthology, The Lowest Heaven, has been recorded for a free podcast by Dark Fiction Magazine. It is beautifully, mesmerisingly read by the awesome Kim Lakin-Smith. Episode 15 of Dark Fiction also includes podcast fab stories by Jaine Fenn, Alistair Reynolds and Sam Sykes.

Click here to hear the story.



S.L. Grey caught in Aerodrome's Photobooth

Sarah and I were recently photographed by Gareth Smit for Aerodrome.co.za's Photobooth exhibition. The shoot happened at the Franchhoek Literary Festival earlier this year, and the exhibition launched on 1 August at Skinny Legs & All in Cape Town.

There are several other fun and artful portraits of local and overseas writers, including Lauren Beukes, Rachel Zadok, Alexander McCall-Smith and Zapiro. Click here to view the online gallery. The exhibition runs in Cape Town until mid-September.



Aerodrome interviews S.L. Grey

When Sarah Lotz and I got together at the Franschhoek Literary Festival in May, Aerodrome, a lovely new South African literary web journal, took the opportunity to interview us about our work together as S.L. Grey.

Click here to view the video at Aerodrome.



End of the Road line-up announced

End of the RoadJonathan Oliver has just announced the contributors to the new Solaris anthology, End of the Road, over at the Solaris blog.

End of the Road is a collection of road stories from some of genre's nastiest. S.L. Grey's unpleasant story, "Bingo", will be rubbing shoulders with the work of a fab line-up, including Ian Whates, Lavie Tidhar, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Sophia McDougall and Adam Nevill.

Gather your nerves and grease your brakes for the December 2013 release.

Click here for more information about End of the Road.



The Lowest Heaven now out

The Lowest Heaven cover spread, credit Joey Hi-Fi, published by Jurassic

The Lowest Heaven is a new anthology of contemporary science fiction published to coincide with Visions of the Universe, a major exhibition of space imagery at the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

Each story in The Lowest Heaven is themed around a body in the Solar System, from the Sun to Halley's Comet. The stories are illustrated with photographs and artwork selected from the archives of the Royal Observatory, while the book's cover and overall design are the work of award-winning South African illustrator Joey Hi-Fi.

S.L. Grey's story, "We'll Always be Here", features in the collection, and has been called "a dark but hilarious tale".

The paperback and e-book are available from 3 July 2013. More details here.