Monday, December 7, 2009

Interview with Gandalf the White and Dumbledore, owners of Sylvia Engdahl

My guests today are two very special cats, Gandalf the White and Dumbledore (I wonder where she got the names from...). They're special because they live with a very special lady named Sylvia Engdahl. Sylvia has published many, many science fiction books (believe me, the list is long, just visit her website if you don't believe me!) With all those books, I doubt she has any time for these two feline critters... but I guess she finds a way, because they LOVE her! Follow Sylvia on Twitter and Facebook.

Read on to find out why...

Hey, Dudes. Welcome to my blog. So, how did you come to live with Sylvia?

We were six months old and were living in a nice resale shop that also serves as a temporary home for cats rescued from the pound by a group called the Shelter Animal Resource Alliance. We had lived with one of the volunteers until we were old enough to go there, so we were very eager to get into a forever home with a person of our own. When our mom, Sylvia, came in looking for a cat, I got right up on her shoulder and purred, so she couldn't put me down. They said I was part Siamese because I have blue eyes and dark orange markings on my face and ears, and Sylvia was afraid I might prove too talkative to fit into her quiet life -- but I had bever done any loud talking in the shop so she took me home anyway (and later I proved not to be Siamese, as the white fur on my back turned orange and I developed some orange tiger stripes on my sides). Mom didn't want me to be lonesome while she was busy, so she chose my brother to some along. She didn't like the names we had at the shelter so she named us after two wise wizards: Gandalf the White and Dumbledore.

Do you two get along?

We get along fine! We are brothers, at least Sylvia was told we are, though she has never been quite sure since we aren't anything alike. We were together as kittens in the pound and have never been separated. We still wrestle and chase each other sometimes even though we are 7 years old, but it's all in fun. We're too big now to fit in Mom's lap together so we take turns -- when one of us comes and looks wistfully at the lap, the occupant gets right down. Mom says it must be telepathy.

What's it like living with an an author? Is she one of those egotistical ones?

It's nice because she is home all the time and gives us nearly as much attention as we demand -- though at times her mind does appear to be on her work instead of on us, which we do our best to discourage. I, Gandalf, am particularly happy that there aren't any other people in the house because when somebody, even a familiar neighbor, knocks on the door, I go under the bed. Mom says this is strange because I saw a lot of people in the shop I came from and I wasn't shy then. My brother Dumbledore, on the other hand, would like to see more action around here. He wishes we were allowed to go outdoors.

What type of books does she write?

Sylvia says her novels have to be called science fiction because they are set in the distant future on other worlds, but she is unhappy with that label because it often means that people not looking for science fiction don't discover them. On the whole they are liked better by readers who don't read much science fiction -- or have not read any at all -- than by dedicated sci-fi fans. No background in science fiction is needed to enjoy them.

In the past, the novels she wrote were for Young Adults -- that is, for teens. One of them, Enchantress from the Stars, was a Newbery Honor book and won other awards. But although her YA books have been republished in the 21st century, it has been a long time since she did any writing for teens. Her recent novels are just for adults.

Of all her books, which one is your favorite?

We don't really know much about her YA novels, as they were written long before we were born. So our favorites are the two adult novels she wrote while we were around to help: Stewards of the Flame and its sequel Promise of the Flame.

Does your author mom have a website?

Yes, she has two of them. The main one,, is mostly about her Young Adult novels, her life (there's one page about us), and her advocacy of space colonization. The other one,, is about her adult novels and has a video trailer plus lots of review quotes and information about the controversial topics dealt with in the book. Whichever site you visit first, there are links to the other, so you won't get lost.

Is she disciplined? What does she do all day?

She works at the computer all the time she's awake except for an hour or so watching television and a couple hours just before bedtime when she holds us and attempts to read. She says this is not a matter of being disciplined because she has physical problems that keep her from going anywhere. Usually she is not writing; her main work is editing nonfiction books for high schools, which is what she does to support herself and us.

Does she ignore you while she writes?

We don't give her a chance to ignore unless we're asleep -- if she tries to, we keep bumping against the back of her desk chair. For some reason even though says she enjoys having us with her, she is upset when one of us insists on being in her lap while she's trying to work. She says there isn't room for a 22-pound cat between her and the computer keyboard and when near a deadline she can't afford lose much time. Occasionally she even gets cross and pushes us off, although we really don't see why, since often she seems able to reach over with one hand and type with two fingers. She says it would be better if we sat with her while she's watching television, which we absolutely refuse to do; neither one of us likes the noise from the television and besides, we don't like the way it competes with us for attention.

Where are her books available?

They are all available at and at Sylvia's websites, and Enchantress from the Stars is also available in bookstores.

What do you like most about Sylvia?

She loves us and says we're her family. What more can we say?


  1. Mayra,
    How do ou come up with the questions that aren't about the autho0r?

  2. Hey, I like all types of sci-fi books! I will have to check them out.