Author Interview Defender of the Flame Tour


I’m interviewing Sylvia Engdahl, author of science-fiction novel “Defender of the Flame” today. Enjoy the interview!

1) How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since the 1970s.  I had six Young Adult science fiction novels and a nonfiction book published by Atheneum, then a major New York publisher that has since been bought by Simon & Schuster, during that decade.  But I didn’t start writing again until 2005, when I began my series of adult science fiction novels, which I’ve published independently.

2) Is Defender of the Flame your first book? If not, please tell us a little about your first book.

My first book was Enchantress from the Stars, a Young Adult science fiction novel published in 1970 which became a Newbery Honor Book and won several other awards.  I am best known for that book, which is enjoyed by younger readers than my others and is sometimes used in schools, and I’ve found that it’s hard to build an audience for my older YA and adult novels even though many adults who like Enchantress enjoy them.  I fall through the crack, as I no longer write for teens and I don’t write typical adult science fiction.

3) Why did you choose science fiction as genre for your book?

The main reason was my belief that space and our outlook toward the universe is of vital importance to the future of humankind.  Although my books are set on future or hypothetical worlds and therefore can’t be called anything but science fiction, they usually appeal more to readers of general fiction than to avid science fiction fans.  They aren’t action/adventure stories and they aren’t “far out” enough to suit the majority of sci-fi enthusiasts; the emphasis is on characters that readers can identify with.  I’m very unhappy with the strict genre-oriented categorization system that prevents them from being found by the people most apt to enjoy them.

4) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write because you enjoy writing and feel you have ideas to communicate.  Don’t expect to earn a living that way — I frequently encounter people who think they can choose writing fiction as a career.  Only a very small fraction of authors earn enough to live on. Most indie books, with the possible exception of steamy romances, earn little or nothing, especially since there are now so many appearing that individual books get little notice. The best reason to write is because you want readers to enjoy your books, even if comparative few discover them.

5) Do you have any works in progress you’d like to tell us about?

The sequel to Defender of the Flame, titled Herald of the Flame, is now available for preorder and will be released on October 15.  It has enough backstory to be understandable if read alone, but Defender of the Flame should be read first to get involved with the main character, which is why I’m publicizing Defender right now.  There were two previous books, Stewards of the Flame and Promise of the Flame, which it’s not necessary to have read before Defender — they are a separate story set 200 years earlier. Because Stewards of the Flame deals with a controversial theme concerning health care policy, people who happen to disagree with it don’t like it as well as the later novels.  Many readers  enjoy the whole series but I’m finding that there’s an additional audience for the Defender/Herald pair. Incidentally, Stewards of the Flame is permafree at all ebook retailers.  The others are $2.99 each.  There are also trade paperback editions of all four books.

Defender of the Flame

DOTF 196x300Title: Defender of the Flame

Author: Sylvia Engdahl

Genre: Science Fiction

Defender of the Flame is about the first steps toward the next phase of human evolution — the development of so-called “paranormal” powers such as ESP. Starship pilot Terry Radnor’s life is transformed by the discovery that he possesses these powers, and that others are working to spread them throughout the worlds of humankind. But they face danger. Most people don’t want to know that such powers exist; they have a deep innate fear having to admit that their conception of reality is false. And some of those people will go to any lengths to suppress their emergence. Some will even resort to terrorism.

Terry vows to defend the world that is spearheading the spread of new human capabilties, a world where for the first time in his life he has found happiness. He has no idea of how far that aim will take him from everything else he cares about — his promising career as a Fleet officer, his wife and soulmate, his unborn child. Torn away against his will, he is forced into exile from all that has previously mattered to him, seeing no chance to fulfill the commitment he has made. Yet a mysterious and extraordinary destiny has been predicted for Terry, and fate leads him to an even stranger one than anybody could have imagined.

This is the first book in the Rising Flame series, to be followed soon by Herald of the Flame. It does not depend on having read the Hidden Flame series, which precedes it, since although set in the same world it is a separate story, complete in itself, that takes place 200 years later.

Author Bio

SE 2007 400x500 hiSylvia Engdahl is the author of ten science fiction novels. She is best known for her six Young Adult novels, which are also enjoyed by adults; Enchantress from the Stars was a Newbery Honor book, winner of the 1990 Phoenix Award of the Children’s Literature Association, and a finalist for the 2002 Book Sense Book of the Year in the Rediscovery category. The others, including the Children of the Star trilogy, are for older readers, and her most recent novels — Stewards of the Flame, Promise of the Flame, Defender of the Flame, and the forthcoming Herald of the Flame — are for adults. She has also recently published an updated and expanded edition of her nonfiction book The Planet-Girded Suns: The History of Human Thought About Extrasolar Worlds. She is a strong space advocate and has maintained a widely-read space section of her website for many years. From her home in Eugene, Oregon she works as a freelance editor of nonfiction anthologies for high schools.


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One random commenter during the tour will win a paperback copy of the book. Each tour stops get to give away an eBook copy as well, so if you want a chance at the eBook copy or paperback copy, please comment below.


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