My top reads of 2013Thursday, 5 December 2013
I've had a strange reading year this year; so saturated with my own plots and writing and editing for work, I've been jittery when it comes to leisure reading. I've dropped far more books than I've finished this year, so those that I did get to the end of had to compete with my divided attention and grab me in the right place and at the right time and in the right way. Those that I've finished and enjoyed and remembered months later have had to be triple-compelling.
These are the books that did it for me in 2013:
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
The Hand That First Held Mine - Maggie O'Farrell
The Shining Girls - Lauren Beukes
Let the Great World Spin - Colum McCann
The Three - Sarah Lotz
I've been quite inspired by the various Best-ofs this season, trying to make amends for my gross inattention. I have my eye on the following recommended books.
The Reason I Jump - Naoki Higashida
Revenge - Yoko Ogawa
The Trip to Echo Spring - Olivia Laing
Undiluted Hocus-Pocus - Martin Gardner
The Violent Century - Lavie Tidhar
The Faraway Nearby - Rebecca Solnit
A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki
Hyperbole and a Half - Allie Brosh
The Love-Charm of Bombs - Lara Feigel
The View on the Way Down - Rebecca Wait
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia - Mohsin Hamid
The Circle - Dave Eggers
Lexicon - Max Barry
Life After Life - Kate Atkinson
Who knows, maybe I'll actually read, finish, enjoy and remember some of them for next year's list! I'll compare notes in a year.
“A Mummy in a Modern City”Friday, 8 November 2013
Presentation to Monstrous Antiquities: Archaeology and the Uncanny in Popular Culture conference, University College London, 1–3 November 2013
Good afternoon. I’m Louis Greenberg, much more a fiction writer than an academic, and I’ll be reading an extract from my short story, “Akhenaten Goes to Paris” then chatting briefly about the ideas behind it.
The story appears in The Book of the Dead, which was published by Jurassic London and launched the other night. It’s apparently the first-ever anthology of original mummy stories and is written by a great selection of current talent, so you should get hold of a copy.
“Akhenaten Goes to Paris”
Uncle Menny assured me that there wouldn’t be a problem getting onto the plane. ‘Just smile and act normal and they’ll wave you through,’ he said. I don’t think Uncle Menny’s travelled for a long time.
Dark Windows to debut at Bloody Parchment 2013Friday, 18 October 2013
On Wednesday 30 October, the first-ever public extract from my upcoming novel, Dark Windows, will be read at the Bloody Parchment 2013 event at the Book Lounge in Cape Town. I won't make it to Cape Town this year, and my clone wasn't baked in time, but someone with an excellent reading voice will be taking the appropriately spooky extract out for a test drive.
Get down to the Book Lounge for the annual Bloody Parchment Hallowe'en fun. Read more about the event here.
Dark Windows cover reveal!Thursday, 17 October 2013
Lauren Smith has just posted a cover reveal and interview with magician-illustrator, Joey Hi-Fi, at her book blog, Violin in a Void. It's made me excited for the book again! I'm amazed and honoured by the effort and attention Joey's put into the cover. He discusses the book and the illustrations more eloquently than I could at Lauren's blog.
I'll let Lauren host the full cover for a few days, but have put up a couple of the details here.
As a side note, I'm fascinated by how the Dark Windows cover mirrors that of The Beggars' Signwriters, even though Joey hadn't looked at it. I should write another book about frames next.
Pan Macmillan to publish two new S.L. Grey booksThursday, 3 October 2013
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.
“A Mummy in a Modern City”Monday, 30 September 2013
On 2 November, I will be presenting a paper entitled “A Mummy in a Modern City” at the Monstrous Antiquities: Archaeology and the Uncanny in Popular Culture conference at University College London.
I will start my presentation by reading an extract from my short story, “Akhenaten Goes to Paris”, which will be published in The Book of the Dead, edited by Jared Shurin (Jurassic London). I will then briefly outline various psychoanalytical and gender theories of monstrosity as it relates to contemporary popular fiction – including notions of the fetishised body, the subversive potential of marginal positions, and our lingering fear of an abject return of the repressed, and invoke Julia Kristeva’s sense of fiction’s importance in managing this fear.
I will discuss why I took my fictional mummy into Paris, bringing the ancient, marginalised monster into the thick of contemporary Western culture and imagining some aspects of the culture, both strange and familiar – including xenophobia, religious changes and ideas of body image – he’d encounter there.
I will finally touch on my research on some of the other ideas in the story, including into Akhenaten’s historical relatives, methods of embalming, and contemporary French monumentalist architecture.
If the paper makes any sense, I'll post it here when I'm done.
A sneak peek at The Book of The DeadTuesday, 17 September 2013
The Quillery blog has just scooped a sneak peek at The Book of the Dead, coming from Jurassic London at the end of October. There you'll find the list of contributions to this cryptological anthology, including my story, "Akhenaten Goes to Paris", alongside exciting mummy tales by David Bryher, Jesse Bullington, Lou Morgan, Glen Mehn, Molly Tanzer, Adam Roberts, Den Patrick and Paul Cornell among many others.
There are also examples of Garen Ewing's stylish artwork and some information on the insanely awesome limited edition hardcover, each with an exclusive Garen Ewing illustration and bound in cloth strips and sealed in wax! (You can order that here, but be quick.)
If you're in London on 29 October, you're welcome to come to the launch of The Book of the Dead.
S.L. Grey story, mesmerisingly readTuesday, 10 September 2013
"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.
A ghost-eater at the Open Book fringeThursday, 29 August 2013
Update: You can now buy The Ghost-Eater and Other Stories at Amazon.com.
I recently co-edited an exciting anthology of short stories by a hot mix of young and established writers with Diane Awerbuck. Now it's being treated to a launch on the Open Book weekend in Cape Town. You are invited!INVITATION
Join a celebration of hot local writing talent as Aerodrome launches The Ghost-Eater and Other Stories, an e-book anthology of 31 stories published by Umuzi.
Editors Diane Awerbuck and Louis Greenberg will be in conversation Umuzi's Fourie Botha for a little bit, followed by tea... and cupcakes!
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Sunday 8 September
You can let Aerodrome know that you're going on the Facebook invitation so that they can bake extra cupcakes – or just come along.
The beautiful Warren Editions Project Space, round the corner from the Book Lounge, on the 3rd floor, 62 Roeland Street, Cape Town.
Available on the Kindle, and at Exclusives and Kalahari's online stores from 5th September.
Mia Arderne, Daniel Berti, Leila Ruth Bloch, Lien Botha, Tembi Charles, faith chaza, Bronwyn Douman, Genna Gardini, Sandra Hill, Ilze Hugo, Conrad Kemp, Wanjiru Koinange, Nadia Kamies, Michael King, Sophy Kohler, Liam Kruger, Christopher Kudyahakudadirwe, Alexander Matthews, Steven Otter, Brett Petzer, Jolyn Phillips, Donald Powers, Werner Pretorius, Calvin Scholtz, Tom Schwarer, Stephen Symons, Dina Segal, Jen Thorpe, Caitlin Tredoux, Olivia Walton, Makhosazana Xaba
S.L. and Louis go to the UK; Louis lurks in Cape TownThursday, 22 August 2013
I'm delighted to share some news of bookish travel plans coming up:
First, I'll be lurking unofficially at the Open Book Festival in Cape Town for a few days from 7 to 11 September, including elbowing my way to some great art at The Shining Girls Charity Art Show. I'm also looking forward to seeing Ian Rankin, the Writer Sports jollity, and Diane Awerbuck and others talk about short stories.
Then, I'll be in London on 29 October to attend the launch of The Book of the Dead, in which I have a story, "Akhenaten Goes to Paris". I'll also attend the Monstrous Antiquities conference at University College London, all about archaeology in popular art and fiction. On 3 November, Sarah Lotz and I will be in Brighton, signing copies of End of the Road with several other contributors at the World Fantasy Convention. There may be a couple more S.L. Grey events in London that week - we'll keep you posted.
Announcing my new novel, Dark WindowsTuesday, 6 August 2013
I’m delighted, at last, to announce that my new novel, Dark Windows, will be published by Umuzi in April 2014. This is my first solo novel to be published since The Beggars’ Signwriters in 2006 and I’m very pleased.
Dark Windows is set in an alternative-present Johannesburg. A wave of New-Age belief has radically altered the country’s political landscape, but not everyone buys into the miracle. The novel follows three troubled characters – a veteran political aide, a stalled wife and an uncommitted contractor – as they get caught up in an unsettling political scheme and a series of mysterious suicides. Michael Titlestad describes Dark Windows as "a fascinating combination of satire and gently apocalyptic writing that is aesthetically and ideologically accomplished and thought provoking".
‘Eight years!’ I hear you exclaim. ‘What have you been doing since then?’
Not that I want to make excuses or anything, but here’s what:
- adopting and training two cross-terrier mutts.
- writing two unpublished novels.
- fathering – and parenting – two energetic children and dealing with family losses and joy along the way.
- resigning my commute and salaried job for the sometimes-dubious comforts of a freelance career, including editing twenty-six books and proofreading twenty-three others (see some of the great books I’ve worked on from home here), managing publishing projects for eKhaya, and being an online writing mentor and editing stickler at the SA Writers’ College.
- compiling and editing Home Away.
- researching and writing and passing a doctorate.
- publishing a handful of short stories and academic articles.
- spending a lot of time on Facebook, and a little less on Twitter and too much on cellphone poker and Bejewelled Blitz. (If anyone asks me how I got repetitive strain injury in my wrists, I blame writing, but we all know different.)
- co-writing four S.L. Grey novels.
This last item has probably been the best sort of boot camp for my own writing, and the lessons I’ve learnt from working with Sarah Lotz, including a master class in plotting and pacing, have added to my original style, resulting in a mix of depth and pace in both my solo and our collaborative novels that I’m very proud of.
I’m excited when I feel that I’m improving as a writer, and that the next book will be better. And the best way to evolve more quickly, I’ve learned in these last years, is to write more, and more often. Reading and working in words helps too.And the final item on that list:
- managing to write Dark Windows!
After all that, you can see why I’m so pleased to be back in the Umuzi fold as a published author. I’m lucky to have Henrietta Rose-Innes as my editor to guide me through the next phase, of making this thing better than I can make it myself. I trust the process the will be vigorous, but not leave me a wrecked shell of the shell I already am. Also assembling for awesome publisher Fourie Botha’s crack team at Umuzi is Joey Hi-Fi on the cover.
Watch this space for more information. Thank you for your patience, encouragement and interest!
S.L. Grey caught in Aerodrome's PhotoboothMonday, 5 August 2013
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.
Louis in The Spotlight with Bruce DennillMonday, 29 July 2013
Arts reviewer and musician, Bruce Dennill, recently interviewed me on his "The Spotlight" show on Radio Today about S.L. Grey's The Ward, collaboration, my solo work and literary festivals. He also played some great indie South African music.
Listen to the interview on the player above or click here to stream the podcast at Podomatic. (The interview kicks in around 5:30.)
Aerodrome interviews S.L. GreyTuesday, 9 July 2013
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 announcedThursday, 4 July 2013
Jonathan 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.
Announcing The Book of the DeadThursday, 27 June 2013
I'm delighted to share the news that I have a new story coming out in Jurassic's next collection, The Book of the Dead, alongside another stellar line-up of genre specialists, including David Bryer, Jesse Bullington, Paul Cornell, Lou Morgan and Molly Tanzer.
Niall Alexander got the scoop at Tor.com and shares all the details here. My story, entitled "Akhenaten Goes to Paris", tells the story of a ... well, you'll just have to wait until October to find out more.
From the Tor.com article: "If you loved [The Lowest Heaven,] that inspired and inspiring anthology—as I indubitably did—you’re going to be over the bloomin’ moon about this new book! It’s another anthology of original short fiction, with an equally telling title—a lot like this column, come to think of it—and I’ve got so much more than what it’s called to talk about.
I guess I’ve already given the name of the great game away—no prizes for guessing that Jurassic London’s forthcoming short story collection is called, yes, The Book of the Dead—but we still have to work out what it’s all about.
Why, only 'the most mysterious, versatile and under-appreciated of the undead: the mummy!'"
Click here for more information about The Book of the Dead.
Countdown to The New GirlTuesday, 25 June 2013
It's a hundred days until you get to meet The New Girl.
S.L. Grey's third novel, and the last in the Downside trio, will be released in the UK on 3 October 2013, and will come to South Africa and the rest of the Commonwealth in November.
Ryan Devlin, a predator with a past, has been forced to take a job as a handyman at an exclusive private school, Crossley College. He's losing his battle to suppress his growing fascination with a new girl who seems to have a strange effect on the children around her.
Tara Marais fills her empty days by volunteering at Crossley's library. Tara is desperate, but unable, to have a baby of her own, so she makes Reborns - eerily lifelike newborn dolls. She's delighted when she receives a commission from the mysterious 'Vader Batiss', but horrified when she sees the photograph of the baby she's been asked to create. Still, she agrees to Batiss's strange contract, unaware of the consequences if she fails to deliver the doll on time.
Both Tara and Ryan are being drawn into a terrifying scheme - one that will have an impact on every pupil at Crossley College...
Click here for more information on S.L. Grey's books, and where to buy them.
The Short Story Day Africa interviewSaturday, 22 June 2013
I recently answered an interview of questions crowdsourced from Short Story Day Africa followers. Click here to find out my views on sex, food and revenge in my writing.
Short Story Day Africa happened on 21 June 2013. It celebrated the continent’s shorter fiction on the shortest day of the year. It had a special focus on encouraging youngsters to enjoy and create short stories and will culminate in the publication of two anthologies at the end of the year: the best submitted short stories by adults and by schoolchildren.
This year, I was proud to sponsor the book voucher prizes for the under-9 and 10-to-13 writing competitions.
The Lowest Heaven now outFriday, 21 June 2013
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.