Forgotten Author of the Week

William Sleator (1945-)

William Warner Sleator III, known as William Sleator, is an American science fiction author who writes primarily young adult novels but has also written for younger readers. His books typically deal with adolescents coming across a peculiar phenomenon related to an element of theoretical science, then trying to deal with the situation. The theme of family relationships, especially between siblings, is frequently intertwined with the science fiction plotline. Due to the suspenseful and often eerie nature of some of his works, Sleator has been compared to young-adult horror writer R. L. Stine. Others cite a strong resemblance to the paranoid, dream-like style of Franz Kafka, which is most notable in House of Stairs, one of Sleator's most powerful novels. (my favorite that left a very lasting impression on me)

Sleator was born in Havre de Grace, Maryland, the oldest of four siblings, to William Warner Sleator, Jr., a professor of physiology and biophysics, and his wife, Esther Kaplan Sleator, a pediatrician who later did some of the pioneering research on attention deficit disorder (ADD). The Sleator family moved to suburban St. Louis, Missouri, when Billy, as the family called him, was three. His younger siblings are Vicky Wald, Tycho, and Daniel. He attended University City High School, where he was known as a composer who wrote scores for school plays and the orchestra, graduating in 1963.

After graduating from Harvard University with a degree in English in 1967, Sleator moved to England, earning money by playing music in ballet schools. Eventually, Sleator returned to the U.S. to write his first novel, Blackbriar, eventually published in 1972, which was based on real life experiences. His first published book, however, was a children's story called The Angry Moon, released in 1970. Sleator's writing has been described as a clean, simple style. His characters are reluctant teenage heroes, and Sleator's younger siblings and friends have often found themselves being written into his prose, as in the semi-autobiographical story collection Oddballs. Elements of Thai culture also occasionally turn up in his stories.

Sleator won the YALSA Best Book for Young Adults in 1974 for House of Stairs, Children's Choice Award in 1979 for Into the Dream, Horn Book Honor List citation in 1984 for Interstellar Pig, among many others. His most recent book Test was published in March 2008.

Sleator splits his time between homes in Boston, Massachusetts, and Bangkok Thailand.