Short Bio

Sally Engelfried is a writer of middle grade novels and a children’s librarian. She lives in Oakland, California. Learning to Fall is her debut novel. 

Photo by Amalie Hazelton

A little more about me

I live in Oakland, California, in a converted warehouse that once stored groceries but now holds me and my family, as well as lots of books, music, and art; a skateboard ramp; a swing; a couple of cats; and a dog who is very fond of stealing slippers. We chose this somewhat unusual living space for my husband’s metal work and art studio, but to us it’s just home. My two daughters learned at a young age to avert their eyes when the welder was going, and we occasionally have to step over huge pieces of steel, but we also have the usual bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, and my favorite place: an office where I do my writing!

I read a ton of books! As a children’s librarian it’s part of my job, but I’ve always read a lot. When I was growing up it was my best escape from feeling too shy, and I loved getting recommendations from my five older siblings. I still do! These days I read books for kids, teens, and grownups: a lot of fiction, a lot of graphic novels, and a little bit of nonfiction.

Music is very important to me. One of my first jobs was working at a music magazine, and I played bass guitar in a couple of rock bands that released records and CDs and performed all over the U.S. These days I love listening to other people’s music and occasionally stumble through a Rodgers & Hart song on the piano. I like all kinds of music from different time periods and different places, but my go-to is moody indie folk type stuff.

I’ve thought of myself as a writer for just about as long as I can remember, but it took me a while to figure out I wanted to write for children. Now it’s the thing I love to do most!

Photo by Amalie Hazelton

When I was a kid

  • I started writing my first book, called The Blue Rose, when I was in grade school. It was about a girl named Jill who found a magical flower that let her travel to prehistoric times. When my mom typed up the first few chapters for me, it made me feel like a real writer.
  • I thought I could learn how to fly if I practiced by jumping off my bunk bed. I talked a bunch of other kids into believing it too!
  • I thought Volkswagen Bugs were so cute that I said “hello” to each one I saw, creating a name for the car from the letters on the license plate.
  • I had an imaginary friend Reesa, who I used to call on the phone. Once I even knocked on a stranger’s door and asked if Reesa was there. 
  • I always watched the end credits of TV shows and movies to get ideas for names for my huge collection of paper dolls. I still watch the credits, but now I look for inspiration for character names!
  • I have three brothers and three sisters, so growing up in my house meant there were always lots of people around to talk to and play cards and board games with. The seven of us are all very different, but two things we are all passionate about: music and ice cream!

From my fifth grade journal, a written conversation with my teacher. This is what I wrote in answer to the question “What do you like to do with people? Without people?”

I like to be with people when my whole family’s in the living room, and everyone’s talking to each other. I like to be alone at my desk, so I can write without anyone disturbing me. Also I like it when I’m alone without anyone in the house. I can get things like potato chips and eat them, when I’m not supposed to. I don’t like to be alone at night though.

Oddly enough, this is all still true!