Children's Literature in Southern Africa

Sarah Lotz

Sarah Lots says she has "... an awful amount of fun."

Writing since the age of 5 the screenwriter and novelist with a fondness for the macabre and fake names has become a force to be reckoned with in the literary world. The escapism and wish-fulfilment aspect of YA literature appeals to her and she has written a YA zombie series with her daughter, Savannah.

Among other things, she writes urban horror novels under the name S.L Grey with author Louis Greenberg and has published three novels, Tooth and Nailed, Exhibit A and Pompidou Posse.

PUKU's interview with Sarah:

Why did you start writing?

I've been writing stories since I was five years old. I'm not sure where the compulsion comes from - all I know is that if I don't do it, then I just don't feel right and I'm a nightmare to be around!

What is the most difficult part of being a writer for young adults in Southern Africa?

When my daughter Savannah and I started writing our YA zombie apocalypse series, Deadlands, we were very aware that we wanted the novels to appeal to a wide variety of readers - and that English might not be our readers' first language. There's a fine line between writing exciting accessible fiction and not falling into the trap of being preachy or dumbing down the narrative. Teen readers are smart - they know when they're being patronised.

You write for adults and teens: which (if any) do you enjoy working on more?

I love both! I love the escapism and wish-fulfillmententer image description here aspect of writing for teens, but in some ways it's more challenging. Teens can be sharper readers than adults and I've had my wrist slapped more than a few times for plot inconsistencies or if readers didn't approve of where a character's storyline was headed. The readers were always right, by the way.

You have written for FunDza Literary Trust's mxit reading platform. How and why did you get involved in the FunDza project?

My daughter and I were delighted when FunDza graciously agreed to publish our crazy zombie story, What to do in Durban When You're Dead (we have a thing for ridiculous titles). FunDza's work is incredibly important - it's striving to bring accessible, entertaining and relatable stories to young readers who might not have access to books - which is vital in order to build a reading culture. I plan to do more as soon as I've managed to get a handle on my current workload - I feel guilty for not being more involved.

What are you working on next?

Savannah and I are finishing the fourth book in the Deadlands series, I'm working on my next solo novel and I also collaborate on other projects with authors Louis Greenberg, Paige Nick and Helen Moffett.

What was your favourite book as a child?

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner. I still re-read every year!

Sarah Lotz is co-author of the much talked about A Girl Walks into a Bar – due later in 2013 – along with fellow authors, Paige Nick and Helen Moffett. The first in a ‘choose your own adventure’ erotica series, the novel is written under the pseudonym, Helena S Paige. She is also one third of pseudonymous erotica author Helena S Paige. Her latest solo novel, The Three, will be out in 2014. She lives in Cape Town with her family and other animals.