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  • Writer's pictureMary Boone

Six Questions with Sally Engelfried

Sally Engelfried is a writer of middle grade novels and a children’s librarian. She lives in Oakland, California, with her family, a couple of cats, and a dog who is very fond of stealing slippers. Learning to Fall (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2022) is her debut novel. Visit Sally's website to learn more about her and her work.

Instagram: @sal_eclaire

Threads: @sal_eclaire

Bluesky: @sallye

1. Who was your favorite author when you were a child? Why?

One of my favorite authors was Lloyd Alexander, author of the Prydain Chronicles. I loved his mixture of adventure and humor, and the way his books made me think about what concepts like courage and friendship really meant. These were the first books that made me cry! When I was nine years old I wrote a letter to Mr. Alexander, and he answered me! (Yes, I still have the letter.)


2. What are your daily or weekly habits and practices?

I have tried many tricks to make myself a more productive writer. My current practice is to try to write 12 hours a week. I figure out when I’ll be able to write and for how long, and I put my daily goals on my calendar. This is essential and really helps me prioritize writing over my social life! I log how many hours I end up writing and put a star on the calendar when I reach my goal. ⭐


3. What are you working on? What’s next for you?

I am currently revising a manuscript I am hoping will be my next published work, a contemporary middle grade about a girl who loves drawing and animals and has anger issues stemming from a challenging family situation. If all goes well with my revision, my agent and I will get this out on submission this spring.


4. Where did you get the idea for Learning to Fall? What was your inspiration?

I mixed a few things together. The emotional struggle of a child dealing with an alcoholic parent was inspired by my own childhood and growing up with an alcoholic dad. The backdrop of skating culture was inspired by friends of mine who skate together every week, just like Daphne’s dad and his friends in the book. I started wondering what it would be like to be a girl skater in that environment, and Daphne was born.

5. Was this always the title for this project? If not, what other titles did you consider and how did you land on this one?

The title was a struggle! My working title was “sk8r grl,” but I always knew that wouldn’t stick. We submitted it as Ollie, Nollie, Kickflip, Shuvit, after some skate trick names Daphne liked. I was never crazy about that title, so I was glad when Little Brown wanted to change it. We brainstormed a bunch of ideas about falling and getting back up. When we came up with Learning to Fall, it seemed like the obvious choice and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it earlier!


6. What’s a particularly striking or memorable reaction someone has had to this book?

A mom DM’d me on Instagram and told me when her daughter had to do a book report for school she wanted something “cool,” so she chose Learning to Fall. When her daughter finished reading, she told her mom, “I spent so much time with Daphne, I feel like she’s a friend, is that weird?” When I was young I often wished book characters were real, so I loved being the writer that made someone else feel that!

If you're a traditionally published middle-grade or picture book author who'd like to be featured on the Six Questions blog, email



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