Learning to Fall – Author Interview

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the Learning to Fall !

Check out my post below!

About the Book

Learning to Fall

Author: Sally Engelfried

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Publishing date: September 6th, 2022


Twelve-year-old Daphne reconciles with her father, who left her stranded three years ago, and learns forgiveness one fall at a time in this heartwarming debut by Sally Engelfried. For fans of The First Rule of Punk.

Daphne doesn’t want to be stuck in Oakland with her dad. She wants to get on the first plane to Prague, where her mom is shooting a movie. Armed with her grandparents’ phone number and strict instructions from her mom to call them if her dad starts drinking again, Daphne has no problem being cold to him. But there’s one thing Daphne can’t keep herself from doing: joining her dad and her new friend Arlo at a weekly skate session. 

When her dad promises to teach her how to ollie and she lands the trick, Daphne starts to believe in him again. He starts to show up for her, and Daphne learns things are not as black and white with her dad as she used to think. The way Daphne’s dad tells it, skating is all about accepting failure and moving on. But can Daphne really let go of her dad’s past mistakes? Either way life is a lot like skating: it’s all about getting back up after you fall. 

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  1. What feelings did you have on launch day? Were you nervous or excited to see your book out in the world?

I was so excited! Then when I signed my first book at a bookstore, I noticed my hands were shaking, so I guess I was nervous too! A really nice part of my launch day was that I shared it with Keely Parrack, a writer friend I’ve known for years; her debut YA, Don’t Let in the Cold, came out the same day. We went to a couple of Oakland bookstores and signed stock together and then went out for celebratory coffee and cookies. It was great to have someone to share the experience with.

  1. I’m a lover of MG contemporary books that touch on the deeper parts of life, what inspired you to write this story?

I love those books too! I would say a general inspiration is my work with kids as a children’s librarian and being reminded that, much as we may like to think childhood is carefree, kids often have to deal with tough situations, whether they’re prepared for them or not. A more specific inspiration was that my own father was an alcoholic. My situation wasn’t similar to Daphne’s except that, like her, I didn’t know how to talk about it. I wanted to explore what happened when a father and daughter worked together to gain an understanding of living in recovery.

  1. Living in a place that includes its own skateboard ramp, do you skateboard too or just watch the kids take the jumps? Did watching them inspire some of your writing for Learning to Fall?

I don’t skateboard myself, but I’ve always thought it was cool. I was inspired by my husband and his friends, who rediscovered skateboarding as adults after some of their own kids took it up. One of them built a skate bowl in his backyard—they call it the Silver Bowl, just like the one in Learning to Fall. Watching some of the younger people who skated with those guys definitely inspired me, and I also did a lot of research and discovered some amazing girl skaters through Instagram.

  1. What is your writing process like? Are you a pranced or plotter?

I’m somewhere in between. I like to jump into the writing part without knowing where I’m going, but after about 20 or 30 pages I start asking questions and taking notes about all the characters and what makes them tick. I usually have four or five scenes in mind that I know are going to be in there. I write those first, then I work on filling in the story that connects those scenes. I also usually have an idea of what I want the protagonist to understand by the end, but I don’t always know how she’s going to get there.

  1. What are you working on now?

I’m working on another middle grade contemporary novel. This one’s about a girl in a big family, which is something I’ve always wanted to write about, since I grew up in one myself. I’m also playing around with a middle grade fantasy that I started years ago but put down because I didn’t know if I could pull it off. I’m still not sure, but I’m going to give it a try!

Author Bio

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. 

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. I also write reviews of kids’ graphic novels on the website No Flying, No Tights and I make book lists for Nerdy Book Club.

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!

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