Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’ve written 10 science fiction novels plus a nonfiction book about the history of belief in extrasolar worlds. Six of my novels are for young adults, though adults also enjoy them. (The first one, Enchantress from the Stars, was a Newbery Honor book.) They were first published in the 1970s but have all had new hardcover, paperback, and ebook editions in the 21st century. My four most recent novels are for adults.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My most recent is an adult science fiction novel, Herald of the Flame. It’s a sequel to Defender of the Flame and was inspired by new ideas I had about the hero’s later life — I wasn’t expecting to write a sequel but then I thought of something that would logically happen to him that I just had to tell about.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I do my best writing between midnight and 6 a.m. I normally sleep in the daytime and work at night; since I’m in my 80s and have no outside schedule that I have to conform to, I’m free to do that.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I don’t think any particular ones influenced my writing, at least not recently. Long ago I was influenced by some of Heinlein’s early books, especially his YA novels.
What are you working on now?
A nonfiction book about religious attitudes toward extraterrestrial life that I’ve been researching for many years but have never had time to write.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
My website, www.sylviaengdahl.com. My books are very difficult to promote because they don’t fit neatly into any established genre. They’re not typical sci-fi and are enjoyed most by people who rarely browse in the science fiction category.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Write because you enjoy writing and have ideas you want to share with readers. Don’t expect to make money — making a significant amount of money from writing fiction is very rare.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Write the kind of books you yourself like to read; don’t be limited by what you think will sell.
What are you reading now?
What’s next for you as a writer?
I don’t know if I’ll ever have an idea for another novel, since all my past ones except the sequels developd for years in my mind before coming to the surface. At my age that’s unlikely to happen again. But I may write more nonfiction.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Whatever was on my Kindle. If I didn’t have an ereader with me I couldn’t read at all, since print is too hard on my eyes now.