Billy Sleator

5 Aug

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Billy Sleator (William Warner Sleator III) died in Buachet Thailand on August 3rd, 2011.  Billy had many friends for whom his death will be a great loss.  The purpose of this web site is to allow people who know Billy to express their thoughts about Billy, and to read what others have written about him.  Please feel free to write as much or as little as you wish.

Thank you,

Bill Sleator, Danny Sleator, and Tycho Sleator

p.s.  The following announcement is for a memorial gathering for Billy in New York City on  Friday October 29th at 2pm.  If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Susan Van Metre <>.

Invitation to William Sleator Memoriam

147 Responses to “Billy Sleator”

  1. jason wells August 5, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    I was Bill’s last book publicist. From when I first met in in California in 2004, we had a special friendship. He was my drinking buddy on the road. A gym buddy when at hotels. I promised him I would one day visit him in Thailand-but time passed to quickly. I have so many stories I’ll never forget. A photo of me with Bill and a librarian has been on my office window sill since 2006. I will cherish it and all of the fun adventures we had forever.

    • Lucy August 5, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

      Thank you Jason for a great first post on this site. I’m one of Billy’s many cousins. I am only beginning to realize how many people loved him and loved his company. He was so generous, not only with his time, but with his attention to people and with his openness to people. It seems like everyone who knew him felt close to him, felt his interest in them, and felt his acceptance of them. There aren’t many people in the world who can create that warmth and friendship so immediately and so strongly.

    • E. Osiris December 17, 2022 at 5:51 pm #

      What would it take to get some of his books back into print? I’ve been reading and rereading his books (even the ones for very young children) since 1999. Now my 8 year old is reading through and I gifted my collection years ago only to find certian titles harder to replenish. Is there simply no way to get a good marketing team on this?
      Perhaps you would be willing to talk story with me. I would love to write a piece on William Sleator. Mostly for my own selfish reasons but also to generate interest so these timeless tales are not forgotten. These stories changed me mentally forever and spurred an interest in mathematics I wouldn’t have had otherwise. And when I found out he was also queer I felt an odd self-acceptance that I’d been lacking before. His coming out publicly helped me feel less alone in a time when not many people were firmly closeted.

  2. Suzanne Lander August 6, 2011 at 1:24 am #

    Even though I hadn’t worked with Bill for a number of years (at Dutton Children’s), we’d chat now and again on IM, picking up right where we left off. Sometimes he was in Thailand, sometimes Boston. We shared some sad times and some cheerful moments, and I’ll never forget what a wonderful piano player he was–just so charming and playful. Back in the day, he worked part-time playing practice for the dancers at the Boston Ballet–he played ragtime and jazz for them, which Bill said, they appreciated because it was a nice pace of change for them. He was a sweetie–with an edge–and he will be missed!

  3. Davy Temperley August 6, 2011 at 5:40 am #

    My cousin Billy was a unique individual. He was perhaps the most entertaining person I’ve ever met. He had an incredible variety of interesting experiences in his life, and he told about them with color and panache. He was also extremely sensitive and considerate. Whenever I met him he always showed great interest in what I was doing. He would always compliment me and extol my virtues; he always found ways of making me feel good about myself.

    Some of my happiest memories are of gatherings with Billy and others in Urbana at Christmas time, with various assortments of friends and relatives. We had many great conversations. Billy’s presence always added an extra level of fun and excitement. In the Christmas carols, he always sang the part of the Myrrh king in “We Three Kings.” (“Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying”—he loved that line.) He also cooked the Christmas geese, which were always delicious.

    A few years ago Billy visited us in Rochester and gave a talk at a nearby school; we went along to hear it. It was funny, witty, and irreverent. The students loved every minute of it. It’s comforting to know that Billy’s spirit will live on in his wonderful books.

  4. janeyolen August 6, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    My favorite memory of Billy was going out to eat with him (and Lee Bennett Hopkins) at a Thai restaurant at some teacher/librarian conference. He kept up a running commentary on the food–good and bad points–and simultaneously kept trying to get me to eat spicy food, which my stomach won’t allow. In between food commentaries, we were entertained by a succession of stories about life with the Boston Ballet company and a Thailand travelogue. Lee and I are no slouches in the conversation department, but honestly, I was having such a grand time listening to Billy, and trying to dodge the spice bullet, and laughing, I don’t think I said a word!

    Jane Yolen

    • Judith M. Friebert August 8, 2011 at 10:58 am #

      Hi, Jane–Great fragment about Billy. I was a friend of Billy’s in the 70s and 80s. His sister was in my dorm at U. Wis. and when I moved to MA I became part of the gang. I hadn’t communicated with him at all for decades, and then I decided to contact him on his birthday that I always remembered because it is five days after mine in the same year. We had a great time catching up on email and when he was here in April we spent a day at the MFA and then hung around in his apt. Of course we went to a Thai restaurant! I am absolutely stunned. It is such a loss. Jane, it is a small world: you know my sister from Smith, Susan Friebert Rossen.

    • Linda Bass November 21, 2011 at 9:13 am #

      As a good friend of Billy’s during his Boston Ballet “gig’, I am delighted to know he enjoyed his time so immensely with us, and that we provided him with as many good memories as he provided us.

    • Eve Osiris December 17, 2022 at 6:00 pm #

      Jane Yolen liked his books too? My keiki LOVES the Commander Toad books. Now they’re 8 and we’re reading through the books he wrote on time travel. Of course we loved the Fat Cat books and Angry Moon until they fell apart.
      Thank you for your kind comments giving perspective on this man I always wished to meet but was too far in addiction to do anything like that. And when I sobered up in 2012 I went to rereading all this books wondering when the next would come out. Not realizing for years that there would be no more of his delightful stories.
      Thank you everyone here paying tribute of time while you write these wonderful words about him. Apologies for the lenght of mine. I am a stranger after all with no real insight beside what was laid bare in his interesting novels.
      “I’d have written a shorter letter if I’d the time.” Blaise Pascal

  5. Laura Rancani (@teabrarian) August 6, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    I didn’t know Mr. Sleator personally, but his stories were part of the rich tapestry of young adult lit I enjoyed as a teen. He was one of the first authors to introduce me to science fiction as a genre, and I thank him for many afternoons spent exploring worlds beyond my own backyard within the pages of his books.

  6. Nicholas Temperley August 6, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    I was very fond of Billy and will miss him a lot. (People in the family went on calling him by his childhood name Billy, even when he grew up, because his father is named Bill.) As his uncle by marriage, I’ve known him since he was a teenager and always relished his friendship, his humor, and his genuine efforts to get to know me and break down any barriers between us. Billy had an almost uncanny understanding of personal relationships and was always concerned about what others thought and what they wanted to feel. But he was also very honest about his true feelings, which he expressed quite forcefully—once he was sure they wouldn’t hurt anyone else he was fond of. Maybe that was the secret of his success as a writer. He was always a leader in family or social gatherings and he will be much missed in Urbana, where he had a great many friends as well as relations, though he never lived here, since he was already grown-up when his parents moved here in 1969. Even when centered in Thailand he managed to come and see his father every few months, and he was about to come here again when his tragic death occurred, completely without warning. Life will be a little colder and less interesting without his presence.

    Nicholas Temperley

  7. Steve Weiner August 6, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    One of the best things about my profession(I’m the director of a library) is that I get to meet a lot of interesting people. The most interesting of them all was Bill. We took an instant liking to each other, & had dinners & drinks. After a few years, he asked me to read his books in manuscript. This was terrific fun because he listened to my suggestions. As my kids gt older, they also read his books in manuscript. It became almost a holiday in our house: Bill’s new manuscript would arrive & I’d read it, then my son, then my daughter. We’d discuss it & get back to him. My kids found their way into his books: Julian is in Parasite Pig, & Lily is in The Boxes. As the years went by, Bill spent holidays with us if he wasn’t going to Indiana to see his family, & in 2008 he flew my wife & I to Thailand, & we spent 2 weeks at his house in the country.Amazing doesn’t begin to describe the experience. Bill was a voracious emailer, & I heard from him often, no matter where in the world he was. Bill was a very good writer & he taught me how to write books. But he was a better friend.

  8. Sami Inkinen August 6, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    Unfortunately I do not have any interesting stories to tell you. I can only let you know that I loved the books he wrote and that were translated into Finnish when I was young. I think I read The Interstellar Pig at least ten times, and I think it is going to be the time once again.

    • Linda Bass September 15, 2011 at 10:27 am #

      Billy would love this post! He loved his writing and he loved his readers.

  9. Louisa T August 7, 2011 at 12:59 am #

    I will always remember Billy’s warm hospitality when I was in Thailand and the wonderful restaurant he took us to. He was so funny and entertaining. I loved his book “The Angry Moon” as a child and both my kids love it too. So sad to hear of his passing.

  10. Blake August 7, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    Mr. Sleator’s stories captivated me and influenced me as a child. Over 30 year ago, I read Green Futures of Tycho several times- blown away by the implications this unique mind could weave into a complex story. It was so unlike any other book I had read before. I look upon news stories today, detailing the bizarre, sad, and perplexing behaviors of humanity- and I think back to Mr. Sleator’s House of Stairs and realize he introduced me to one of the mechanisms by which these behaviors are effected. Thank you to a brilliant and cool dude who saw fit to share his gifts with youngsters like me- we are all the better for it. My sincere condolences and best wishes to the dynamic and wonderful Sleator family.

  11. Royce Williams August 7, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    I never met Bill, but I imprinted early on The Green Futures of Tycho when our six-grade teacher read it aloud. It was the perfect blend of quirky intelligence, fascination with past and future, family dynamics, and the struggle with self.

    Later, in college in the mid-90’s, I created a small web page about Bill, Green Futures, and his other books. Bill was aware of my site, and when the Starscape edition of Green Futures came out, he mailed me a dedicated copy, paying the postage himself.

    As a collector and fan, I have proudly announced to anyone who ask (and many who haven’t) that I have the original artwork for the cover of three editions, including the first edition that I loved so much … but my copy of Green Futures from Bill means even more.

    And I’d trade them all for a chance to thank him in person for giving a small boy hope for his own future.

  12. Sam Spinrad August 8, 2011 at 1:15 am #

    I read Bill’s books in middle school and they inspired me to write… his sibling rivalry stories and bizarre tales in alternate universes and boltzmon becoming “perturbed” entertained my family and me for many hours. I wrote him a few years ago and he surprised me with a very entertaining and encouraging response with good advice for writing… I regret now that I did not write to him more… I feel like I lost a great inspiration and source of writing advice… I am also sad that I will not have anymore Sleator books to read… he truly captures the teenage mentality in his books.

  13. Joey V. August 8, 2011 at 4:53 am #

    I’m pretty devastated and my family is devastated. I don’t know what to say, other than the fact that I intend on lighting a candle for Billy and to give copies of his books to libraries and schools in an effort to keep him around.

  14. Ann Durell August 8, 2011 at 8:14 am #

    Working with Bill Sleator as his editor was – well, the greatest! He
    loved being edited! AND he was such an intelligent and accomplished
    writer that his responses to my queries and suggestions were exactly what I had in mind. He made me look good! After “Angry Moon”, a picture book brilliantly illustrated by Blair Lent, he thought his next story, “Blackbriar”, would also be a picture book, but the story outgrew his plans. It took on a wonderful life of its own. And Bill was off…he went on with his own gifted ideas and never looked back. As his bibliography attests.

    He was a kind, gentle person who made a first rate friend to me and my husband, Jim McCrory. We were blessed to know him.

    Ann Durell

    • Norma Jean Sawicki August 10, 2011 at 11:15 am #

      Glad you posted this, Ann. In my mind, I see you and Bill together at one conference or another… thought you lucky to have found him! Norma Jean

  15. Joe Sleator August 8, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    My first memory of Billy was in about 1971, when I was in Kindergarten. He came to my kindergarten class in Aberdeen, not far from where he was born, and gave a presentation and a reading of “The Angry Moon”, his first book, followed by some Q&A. It was just wonderful, and made me want to learn how to write well. That desire only grew when I managed to scam a copy of Blackbriar, and later House of Stairs from somewhere. I can remember many nights staying up a bit too late reading his books when I was young, and even recently. We have at least one thing in common, as we were born in the same hospital in Havre De Grace, if the stories are to be believed.

    It only got better after that. At every Sleator reunion and gathering he managed to attend, he was like a shining beacon, full of life, love, talent, and compassion, and an inspiration to the rest of us, leading by example most of the time. He reminded me of my father Dave in many ways, as he seemed to have endless patience and rapport with kids.

    It’s good to see that it wasn’t just his family who loved him so much! I’m sure we’ll all miss him terribly.

    And thanks Danny, for taking the trouble to put up this wall for us to celebrate and grieve against.

  16. Gayle August 8, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    As a young dancer during the summer months spent touring Europe with Boston Ballet, Billy was such an amazing travel ally. We sat together on the endless bus rides from city to city with our green Michelin “Italy” guides open while we scanned the horizon for castles and other points of historic interest. It was Billy who helped open my eyes to the vast world beyond the theater, though he was so wry and observant about exploring that underworld too. He played the piano for ballet class every morning, without sheet music, while reading a book at the same time. I have a photo of him seated at a baby grand in Lyon, France, in the ancient Roman amphitheater where we performed. The image was used in one of his book jackets and we came to call it “our novel”. We last emailed a few months ago when he recommended Daniel Mason’s “The Piano Tuner” remarking that it was the best depiction of life as an ex-pat in southeast Asia that he’d ever read. It sits on my library shelf. Tonight I’ll begin reading it while thinking of Billy.

  17. Komron August 8, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    I am very sorry that I can not type in English is not good.

    I do this book, Billy, I’ll keep it like it a lot.

    (My translation in Google), I remember Danny.

  18. Mary Ann Brownstein August 8, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    I was stunned and incredibly saddened by the news of Billy’s death. We were friends since “Oddball” days in junior high, though lost contact after college. I kept an eye on all his books, though, and was incredibly happy to have reconnected with him personally through another old friend from those ancient days in University City, MO. Billy was always someone I admired, respected and loved, for all his intelligence and talents and nasty wit and sense of humor.

    We. alas, never got a chance to meet again in person, but Billy was a faithful and prolific correspondent. My partner, Kerry, who never met him, always got excited when an email came from Billy, and couldn’t wait for me to open them. Recent years have not been especially kind to him, but through everything, his loyalty to friends, his sense of irony and incredible wit shone through. I will miss his presence in my life.

    • Kerry Woodward August 10, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

      It’s true, what Mary Ann said about my interest in all of Billy’s emails. I loved his wry yet hopeful outlook on life. His books delighted me. He seemed at ease opening himself up to the world, a gift I have always admired, especially since so few people have it.

      I have often felt that I knew him. It’s funny though, I had never seen his picture, and although he was older than I, my image of him was of a much younger man. He had the vibrancy of a youthful soul.

  19. joanna baymiller August 8, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    Billy was a year ahead of me at U City High School, in St Louis, the older brother of my friend Vicky, who for me was the celestial center of a universe of bright, bohemian, creative and funny ‘beatnicks’ . I knew Billy only slightly, and mainly just adored him from afar and was grateful for his acknowledgement. Billy showed us the alternative to being ordinary; the book “Oddballs” introduced me, much much later, to his younger siblings, whom i never met. The stories in the book resonate with such sweet and sad familiarity. They bring Vicky back vividly, along with the antics of a creative and loving family that had such a sense of joy and play.

    Like Mary Ann, above, I admired his talents, keen wit, and willingness to find his own path. Like Billy, I am a writer and have always been outside the mainstream. Billy created the path outside that mainstream, and in that way he was a kind of accidental mentor to a younger group of nonconforming souls to whom he gave, by example, permission to be “oddballs” too. I cherish the memories of Billy and Vicky and wish their family members deepest condolences. My appreciation for the path he blazed will last my entire life.

  20. Donna Cerasani August 9, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    Oh, Bill, or Billy as you say- I was just thinking of you just the other day…
    was it you passing through on your way?

    My fond memories, an iimmediate friendship, a transformation of your home for a publisher’s gathering, clearing through a stock pile of books of your talent, many evenings talking for hours, and sitting at my dining table- You loved my cooking but failed to show me how to make phyllo dough! Much too little time spent in touch in the past couple of years….
    I am brought to tears as I read the paper this evening… too late, my friend, to say I miss seeing you….

  21. nancy goldring August 10, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    These are some of the photos of Billy in Thailand. I spent 10 wonderful days with him in 2009. There are so many photos I could post but he loved his place there.

    • Gail Mazur Handley November 18, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

      Nancy – thank you so much for posting these. It’s great to have a photographic update on Billy and a bit of his world in Thailand. I assume the man in the green T-shirt and the Harvard T-shirt is Coke? Who is the woman in the red apron? You look wonderful. Thanks again.

      My note about Billy, posted only recently, is below.

      Gail Mazur Handley.

    • Linda Bass November 21, 2011 at 9:23 am #

      Fabulous photos and I KNOW you had a great time!

  22. Amy August 10, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

    I don’t have stories of my cousin-in-law, Billy, to tell, just memories of his wickedly smiling face across the table or sitting in the living room. I didn’t get to see him often. I’ll miss him all the same.

  23. Rusty Lerner August 11, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    I am writing from Surin, Thailand, a few hours after showing up at Billy’s house in Ban Ta Weng in anticipation of spending the afternoon catching up with him. I wondered why his phone was off as I tried to call him for directions as I grew closer — but eventually managed to find the place (he was quite well known in the environs, apparently!).

    You can imagine my shock and utter disbelief when I found his Thai family in front of the house, still grieving after his funeral yesterday. My mouth must have dropped all the way to the ground.

    Billy’s friend Supan took me to the temple where he was cremated, and showed me — still numb with disbelief — the monument where his remains had been interred alongside those of his beloved friend (and mine), Siang “Coke” Chitsa-art.

    I am still in shock as I sit here in this hotel room when I still expected to be sharing a drink and a laugh with my old buddy. RIP, Billy.

    • Linda Bass September 15, 2011 at 10:32 am #

      Thank you for this detail. Having just heard of Billy’s death, I’m so grateful to know he was well taken care of by his Thai friends and family.

  24. Margaret Pickett August 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    I was really saddened to hear of WIlliam Sleator’s death. He is the author who inspired my interest in young adult science fiction. Because of his novel, SIngularity, my middle school now teaches a unit on science fiction which exposes students to many authors. I probably taught SIngularity at least 10 times or more. Bill was also a regular visitor to our seventh grade students during the nineties.He always gave the same speech and every year kids were caught up into his descriptions of editing and editing and editing his work. He would tell them he became most inspired when he had no money in the bank and then he would explain how he dealt with people he didn’t like by “dealing with them” in his books. I’ll miss him.

  25. Emily Lynn Osborn August 11, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    I count myself lucky to have had a co-starring role with Billy in singing “King Wenceslaus” for many years. Our parents were among a tight circle of friends who celebrated annual Christmas parties (regardless of their particular religious orientation). Of the off-spring born to these families, Billy occupied the status of oldest child and I, the youngest. As a child, I remember Billy as something of a distant and legendary figure – he seemed eons older, he spoke easily to “the adults,” and he had this capacity to regale everyone with irreverent but important stories about the big wide world. But at some point in my high school years, I think I was fifteen, I had an extended conversation with Billy and suddenly this successful writer and accomplished pianist became a friend. As I grew into adulthood and beyond, a visit home was always a bit better if Billy was in town at the same time. Like others who have posted here, I appreciate how he engaged and listened, how he could draw you in and make you partner to his warmth and wit.

    At the annual Christmas parties, you always knew when Billy was in attendance: people gathered around to listen and talk to him. His corner of the room was inevitably the boisterous one, and its occupants the most resistant to being herded to participate in the activities of the evening: to eat (buffet style), to exchange gifts, to sing carols. But sing carols we invariably did, and so too did we at some point assume our respective roles, me as the loyal but frightened page, and Billy as the strong and good-hearted King Wenceselaus. It was a part that Billy sang with drama, gravity, and gusto.

    The Page (me):
    “Sire, the night is darker now
    And the wind blows stronger
    Fails my heart, I know not how,
    I can go no longer.”

    King Wenceslaus (Billy – bold, protective, forceful):
    “Mark my footsteps, my good page
    Tread thou in them boldly
    Thou shalt find the winter’s rage
    Freeze thy blood less coldly.”

    I can hear is voice still. I will miss Billy very much.

  26. Harry Triandis August 12, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    We had such a good time visting him in Thailand. He introduced us to some very interstsing people. We will miss him very much

  27. Susan Larson August 13, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    I knew Billy when he was pianist for the Boston Ballet Company. i worked, at that time, in wardrobe with Paul Rhode, who introduced me to Bill. I always enjoyed his music and his company, and, when I learned about his authoring skills, his books as well. Being a pianist myself, and the mother of 4 children, the eldest, at that time, the appropriate age for his works, Billy became a household name in my home.

    Some time later, when my 3rd child was in middle school, and reading his works, Bill came to speak at my son’s school. Adam boasted about his Mom being a friend of Mr. Sleator’s, and his friends doubted this to be true. After his talk, Bill welcomed the children to come up and meet him. Adam went up, with his friends trailing him, and to his delight, Bill looked at him while speaking to another student and said very loudly,” Aren’t you Sue’s boy?”

    My son instantly experienced his 15 minutes of fame in his middle-school world, and has never forgotten that.

    A true loss to this planet – a fine human being.

    My deepest condolences.

    Susan Larson

  28. Fred Sard August 13, 2011 at 5:49 pm #

    I did not see Billy for many years before his death, but that did not change my enduring, deep feelings for him. What follows is a reminiscence of a cherished period in my life.

    My friendship with Billy began one day in Junior High School in seventh (eighth?) grade “shop”. I was whistling some classical (Mozart?) tune while working on some carpentry, and suddenly Billy appeared, saying “Do you know what that tune is?” I did, and so did he. He must have been as surprised as I was to find someone else who knew it. I had thought until then that only my family and their friends knew this sort of thing, but there he was, fully conversant with what I childishly had always thought was restricted family territory. That was the beginning of a new day and a long friendship, most intense during my early adolescence, later broken up by an ill-timed family move to another state, but never entirely extinguished.

    I definitely map my adolescent years as being pre- and post-Billy. For me it was as if the clouds had opened up and some divine giver of joy had come into my life. I exaggerate, but not by much. Here was this Puck, this Robin Goodfellow, this Ariel, from Lord-knows-what planet, who brought with him his own unique way of doing things and an exhilarating vitality, freedom, and rich creativity.

    I remember fondly those days when we introduced each other to our favorite music, books, art. He tried to break through the iron bonds of my family’s aesthetic ultra-orthodoxy, which for example in music admitted very little after Schubert into the sacred chamber. 3 Penny Opera, My Fair Lady, Tchaikovsky: gradually the insidious liberation began. In fact I had already begun this process, with my love for Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, and Bartok. I even listened to Wagner in my bedroom! Forbidden fruit…

    I in turn introduced him to Mahler (successful), Verdi and Wagner (not so much). Early Stravinsky was his ideal: I still remember him leaping around his living room while we blasted the Rite of Spring at full volume.

    Ah, yes, the Sleator household: that very lived-in haven of freedom and (relative) sanity, where a stain on a floor or rug was not a cataclysmic event. At one point I even painted a Matisse-like mural on their attic wall. No one seemed to mind.

    I like to think of myself as one of the original “Oddballs”, although I was odd for an oddball, with some distressingly normal traits. This secret, conventional self, which at first I scrupulously kept hidden when around Billy & Co., needed badly to be integrated with my Oddball, Greenbagger, beatnik persona. Eventually it was (more or less), not without pain, over many years…

    It was good to see in later years what an urbane, truly sophisticated, tolerant, open, generous man he had become.

    My youthful friendship with Billy was a joyful, exhilarating, liberating experience. Our times together during its heyday were among the happiest of my life.

    • \sonia (Anthony) January 25, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

      Fred had no idea of the life Bill had after I left St Louis. Wonder how you knew him and when you moved away to Texas? email (Anthony)

    • Deborah Solomon Wallace September 29, 2013 at 7:06 am #

      Billy, Fred, and I were close friends in high school. I have loads of memories: Billy’s intense crush on our Latin teacher (Mrs. Sniffen), his leading all the toga’d celebrants of the annual Latin Club banquet through the U. City public library, his serene learning to drive while his mother spewed obscenities at other drivers, etc.

      Most of the memories on this webpage involve the arts. I also remember Billy’s involvement with the awakening social movements. He marched through The Loop in protest of segregated restaurants. He joined a bunch of us handing out nuclear disarmament leaflets at a Veterans’ Day parade in downtown St. Louis. He was very proud of his father’s signature on the scientists’ letter to the newly elected Kennedy petitioning for an end to atmospheric nuclear testing. The arts are never far from the social and political. That was a time of great hope, and Billy plunged into the action.

  29. Andrew Feenberg August 14, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    Like Fred I lost touch with Billy in recent years, but we had some nice email exchanges over Oddballs in which I appear as ‘Alexander.’ I can testify that it’s all true. My whole childhood was spent playing with Billy and Vicky. I spent so much time at the Sleator’s I could have been adopted. It makes me sad today to realize that all this is long past and over.

  30. Rusty Lerner August 14, 2011 at 11:29 pm #

    Billy and Coke’s final resting place:

  31. KOMRON August 15, 2011 at 5:16 am #


    Rusty Lerner

    You’ve come to Thailand.

    • Rusty Lerner August 15, 2011 at 5:33 am #

      ครับ ผมอยู่เมืองไทยกว่า 20 ปีแล้วครับ

      • KOMRON August 15, 2011 at 8:43 am #

        ขอบคุณมากๆๆ คับที่ไม่ลืมอาของผม ตั้งแต่อาเสีย

        บิลลี่ ก้ ไม่อยู่ที่บ้านนั้นเลย

        ไปอยู่ที่ตระเวง อาการน่าเป็นตั้งแต่ตอนนั้นเลย

  32. Stephanie Moy August 15, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    I met Billy at Boston Ballet where I danced and he played class and rehearsals. His music always had an extra dose of feeling. He would play the classics and then add something like ” A Little Night Music” and the day would be brighter.
    He was with Paul then.
    And what a wonderful sense of humor too!
    One fond memory of him having to improv his way thru the score of Don Quixote during a rehearsal run thru . My variation sounded like …… well not what it was supposed to. He’d had to sight read on a moments notice. He was so apologetic which so touched me. His consideration going beyond what he was doing . We laughed so much about it later. I loved his musical jokes played during class. He would be scanning the room to see if anyone heard it. The twinkle in his eyes still brings a giggle inside.
    He ( and Paul too) friended me in some difficult days always reminding me stay with the beauty of the work , the music , the dance.
    To find out this quiet person who played class and rehearsals also was a gifted and published author…..was even more impressive.
    So talented , So gentle and fierce, dedicated and imaginative. I will treasure the memories of him.

    • Linda Bass September 15, 2011 at 10:36 am #

      As if being a dancer weren’t heaven enough, we also had Billy and his music! He added so much richness to our art by being so rich in his ability and talents!

  33. Eric Rhode August 16, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

    Billy is who I call my “Uncle”. He was there when I was born and will always have a place in my heart. I will always remember his stories and his smile. I will remember you forever and love you always Billy. Eric

  34. Irene Metzger August 18, 2011 at 6:41 pm #


    You were never on the sidelines once you were in Billy’s orbit. He stored away off-hand conversations about this and that and – suddenly – you were the annual red cabbage maker at those vast family Christmas dinners. I also learned to lay in a good supply of vodka for those magic times when Billy and family entourage marched into MY house. What a lovely, funny, profound man! I can still hear him laughing.

  35. Andrew Biggs August 21, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

    Thank you, Billy and Coke, for coming into my life back in the mid-1990s. From that moment on I looked forward to Billy’s Thailand visits with great excitement. It always meant a week or two of magic, madness, constant laughter and some of the worst hangovers I’d ever experienced. We’d end up in places either too exquisite or, more likely, too dingy but we always had a good time pointing out the absurd, reflecting in any apparent irony, and with the constant sound of Coke’s unique laugh or Billy’s unique way of speaking Thai. Hilarious memories. Honestly … you two had such an influence on my life. We experienced great highs and lows, both in Bangkok and in Surin. It all came to a terrible end the morning we had to turn off Coke’s life support but for me, I will always remember 10 years of brilliant, brilliant memories. How wonderful to think you now rest in peace with Coke in that rural plain around Bua Chet, Surin. With all my love.
    รักบิลลี่กับโคกเสมอ รักที่สุด ไม่รู้จะพูดอย่างไรนอกจากนี้

  36. Marilyn Bromberg Banner August 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

    I was a student at Delmar Harvard in Mrs. Rathbone’s class, and Billy was a student in Mrs. Barrow’s. We were in fourth grade then, and our class was invited to visit his class, to attend a puppet show created and produced by Billy. I’m pretty sure he was called Bill then, but not sure. There was great excitement around the puppet show, and we all knew that an unusually creative person was in our midst.
    Bill and I finally “met” in junior high school at Hanley. Fondest memory was my 13th birthday party, a surprise party with unusual gifts. Bill’s gift to me was a box of chocolate covered ants!! Other gifts were equally bizarre. His freedom was catching.
    I helped edit The Magic Chalk at a high school teacher’s house. I babysat once or twice for Danny and Tycho, and attended several amazing seances on the third floor. I have a wonderful memory of hearing him play At the Hop, full out, on the piano at the Sleator house. All of these make me smile. What an inspiration to live our lives out of the box!
    My husband Carl Banner and I last saw Billy with my old friend Frank Coleman. We had dinner together at Billy’s in Boston most likely in 1982. Thanks for the opportunity to share these, and to read these others. The photo of all of you from childhood is deeply moving.

  37. Elaine Kirn-Rubin August 23, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    Enjoyed reading everyone else’s comments and memories, especially the ones where I was there, such as Mrs. Barrow’s 4th grade class at Delmar-Harvard. My most vivid memory was Halloween at the Sleaters’, my first experience with multi-sensory horror decorations, when Mrs. Sleater read us all the “Monkey’s Paw.” In the past 45 years, I’ve read that story countless times to ESL classes, always remembering and explaining where I heard it the first time. Other memories of Billy and Vicki are sketchy but always include feelings of creativity and far-outness, warmth, and connectedness. Bought some of his books in the meantime, remarked at how his online writings or writings about him were so quirkily about his family, regret not having contacted him in Thailand ten years ago (thought about hiim every time my son traveled there), and will sorely miss the opportunity to stll do so. Soo emotionally sorry about the news.

    (harriet) Elaine (fendelman) Kirn-Rubin

  38. Cait August 24, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    I’m a rabid fan. I obsess over William Sleator. Everytime I go to the bookstore, i immediately go to the “S” section. Same thing for libraries. Or libraries we are passing by in traveling.. Garage sales.. and Goodwill stores. I have to stop and check.

    I’ve got about 10 of them so far, and I’m very disappointed in how few places host Sleators books. They are the most amazing thought provoking books I’ve ever read! They are definitely up to par with “A wrinkle in time”.

    I saw today in my William Sleator book search that he had died earlier this month.. and I am saddened greatly. There will be no more william sleator books. I was looking forward to one he told me about in an email in 2006. I’ll post.



    Some day I would like to write a third book in that series, calloed
    MAD MARTHA. Of coufrse it is about Aunt Martha being mad at Marco for
    stealing her box.

    But my editor says sequels never sell as well as the original. So I
    don’t know when this will happen.

    You may have to try some of my other books.

    I know the ending to The Boxes leaves you up in the aiur. A lot of
    peopel complain about that. SORRY!

    Thanks for writing to me and liking my books so much!

    William Sleator”

    Id been looking forward to each new book, but especially mad martha since 2006.. If he has a rough draft started anywhere, I’d love for someone to post it..

    Since he sent me that email, I had been on a mad search to find more books.. It turns out several books by him i had ALREADY read!!! and LOVED!! So i had to find more.. and more and more!

    RIP William Sleator, you were my obsession, my passion… Such an awesome guy.

  39. "Jack" from Oddballs August 25, 2011 at 2:18 am #

    Tycho, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for attempting to get you to drink from the toilet when you were in hypnotic trance. I did not really think you would do it, because in the pamphlet I bought for 25 cents from the back of a comic book it said that the hypnotized person would never do anything he wouldn’t do in his normal waking state. But I was curious what would happen if it was attempted. What I remember is (and it was a long time ago), you went over to the toilet and just stood there. That confirmed that the information in the pamphlet was reliable and correct. I remember there being some inaccuracy in Billy’s account of the episode in Oddballs, but I no longer remember what.
    For years I have been intending to read some of Billy’s young adult fiction, and his passing sort of catalyzed me into taking action. The only Sleator title in Barnes and Noble was The Boy Who Couldn’t Die. Now, I imagine that, in general, reading the work of a deceased author that one has known in life could kind of create an impression that he is still around. In this case, the book I picked up is about a boy who uses magic to achieve immortality.

    • Linda Bass November 21, 2011 at 9:42 am #

      “Jack”, libraries (even ours in the Appalachian Mountains) usually have a good supply of Billy’s books as they are great reading for teenagers and encourages them to read (and dream, we hope). I’ll have to read Oddballs again. Now that I know “Jack” is real!

      • "Jack" from Oddballs November 30, 2011 at 12:11 am #

        Yes, “Jack” is “real”. Keep in mind that the slow-wittedness that Billy attributed to him was a mere front…

  40. Danny Sleator August 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    What follows is the text my statement in the “Gathering to Commemorate the Life of William Warner Sleator III” which took place in Urbana on August 23rd.

    While I was thinking about this event, it occurred to me that Billy should really say something, because he is the person in our family who could always be counted on in such situations. In fact, In these last few weeks there’s been recurrent feeling of “I should tell Billy about this”, or “what would Billy think of that”, only to be slapped down with the realization that he’s gone. He was a piece of the infrastructure of my life, like the pier of a bridge, which is now gone.

    I grew up in a household full of creative, irreverent people. This is described in Billy’s book “Oddballs”. This “system” was created by my mother and father, but everybody in the family contributed to it, specially Billy. He wrote this song, with music:

    Why should I, a boy of 10
    be tortured thus again and again
    she makes me eat peas at every meal
    but eats none herself, what a heel

    He wrote and illustrated a book for Tycho and me called “The Curse”. He made me cry by singing a song about a little boy whose mommy and daddy went out and never came home. (When it was over, I asked him to play it again.) He and Vicky made up a song that went “BM in the Snow, all cold and lonely”.

    Billy and Vicky and their friends (who were always around) practically raised Tycho and me. They taught us words and other things that we were not supposed to know. Many of those friends have posted notes about the profound effect on their lives of the time spent hanging around with Billy and the Sleator family:

    Andy Feenberg: My whole childhood was spent
    playing with Billy and Vicky. I spent so much time
    at the Sleator’s that I could have been adopted.

    Fred Sard: Ah, yes, the Sleator household: that
    very lived-in haven of freedom and (relative) sanity,
    where a stain on a floor or rug was not a cataclysmic
    event. At one point I even painted a Matisse-like
    mural on their attic wall. No one seemed to mind.

    In 1963 I starred (along with Tycho and Buddy Schweig) in a movie called “The Magic Chalk”. The movie was made by a group of Billy and Vicky’s friends and teachers at their school. Billy wrote the music.

    Billy loved the music of Ravel and Debussy. Le Tombeau de Couperin (which you will hear played by Davy Temperley) is seared into my memory from hearing him practice. And the “Gollywog’s Cake Walk” (which you will hear played by Isaac Sleator) was my “crazy song”, and I had to dance around crazily every time he played it.

    There was sibling rivalry in the family. But it was mostly good-natured and positive, like that you’ll see later in the “Best Uncle Pageant” of 1996. Billy frequently used his deep understanding of sibling relationships in his books. For example, in “Singularity”, one brother is so desperate to separate himself from his mean domineering twin, that he spends a year in a tiny room where only a few hours pass outside the room. Thus he gains a year in age over his brother.

    I want to read from an email Billy sent me in May 2009:

    I went fishing with my friend Supan this
    morning. It was absolutely magical. We left his
    shack just after 5 AM. We rode on his motorcycle
    on the real road until we got to the
    jungle. Somehow, I’ve never been in the real
    jungle here before. It’s where people get malaria,
    but there were no mosquitos today. The dirt track
    was about a foot wide, winding through the trees
    and underbrush, going over boulders and sharp
    steep hills. Finally we got to the lake. His
    rowboat was there, with one oar. He had borrowed a
    life jacket for me, which he insisted I wear. He
    had a bottle of rice whiskey and I had a water
    bottle with vodka and lime soda in it. He sat on a
    little wooden platform at the back of the boat,
    and I sat on a slat about six inches wide. There
    was several inches of water in the bottom of the
    boat. The lake was absolutely calm, the rising sun
    behind clouds. It was amazing how fast he could
    make that boat go, rowing on one side and then
    another, and how silently. We went for quite a
    ways, to the end of the lake. Then he began
    hauling up the nets he had placed in the water the
    day before. There were silvery fish in them, still
    alive. He squeezed them out of the net, stroked
    their gills, and dropped them into the water at
    the bottom of the boat. It made me think of the
    Yeats poem, “The Song of the Wandering Angus,”
    that somebody wrote a beautiful song to: He
    catches a silver trout, it turns into a glimmering
    girl who vanishes. He spends the rest of eternity
    wandering, looking for her, and eats: “The silver
    apples of the moon; the golden apples of the sun.”

    (The complete poem is on the backside of your program.)

    Coke and Billy were a wonderful match. You can see that in the pictures that we’ve put together. When Coke died in 2008, I don’t think Billy really recovered. He wrote to me at that time:

    I seem to be surviving this insanely horrible crisis
    The worst moment is ALWAYS when I wake up,
    and it takes me a moment or so to realize: Coke is dead.
    I will never see him again. Very hard to accept.

    Many of us feel the same way about Billy.

  41. Art Saluk August 26, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    I knew Billy many years ago through his friend Eleanor Hexter. He played the wedding march on the piano at our wedding. I could tell immediately upon meeting him that he was a standout human being–warm, generous, good-hearted, multi-talented though modest, wonderful sense of humor, terrific philosophy of life. He’s one of those people you meet and never, ever forget. I’m very glad I had the privilege of knowing him.

    Art Saluk

  42. Michael Weissman August 26, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    Danny- Thanks for creating this site.

    I can only echo what Fred and Andy said, though from the point of view of someone enough younger to be looking up to them, Billy, Vicky, my sister, and the rest of that unique gang. More than anyone, Billy created a whole world with a different sensibility than we would have known otherwise. It wasn’t any of the worlds of our parents- scientific, political, or psychoanalytic. It was bohemian, but, at least in Billy’s version, not the standard high school canned show bohemianism. Billy living it from the inside.

    As Fred hinted, for some of us that world wasn’t a perfect fit. We experienced culture shock in reverse, gradually accepting that we were more conventional than we thought we should be. Big Bill’s world of science and politics was in the end a more natural fit for me. Billy’s world was still so engrossing that it lives on in us as part of who we are, part of a whole way of seeing things.

    For those who couldn’t get to the memorial, you should know that it was in some ways the most fitting tribute. Where else would elegantly dressed older women, pillars of the community, speaking in the most elegant accents, recount in full detail Billy and Vicky’s back-seat stories of their experiences as striped and royal turds, respectively?

  43. Fred Sard August 27, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    I very much appreciate Danny’s posting of the commemorative gathering highlights here. It is very frustrating to have been unable to attend. However, I think this web site is in itself a fitting memorial service for Billy, with everyone contributing who wishes to. We have had some wonderful observations and photographs, perhaps it’s time for some music.

    The excerpts below are simply links to YouTube music postings. I list alternative versions of pieces, mainly because neither is perfect but each has its virtues. The Weill takes me back to the days when Billy shared his discovery of this music with me. The Ravel is here for obvious reasons, favorites of his and mine.

    Weill and Ravel may seem like an unlikely pairing, but both have wit and warmth, elegance and tenderness, and are very danceable (OK, maybe not Oiseaux Tristes).

    Just copy the http:// line into the URL box of a web browser and enjoy. You don’t have to register or log in to anything. I am not very adept at this sort of thing, and I apologize for any glitches that may arise here, but this is a quick and easy way to share music. I hope you find something here that resonates for you too.

    Kurt Weill, The Threepenny Opera: Kleine Dreigroshen Musik (mvmnts 5 & 6 — Polly’s Song & Tango-Ballade)

    Concerto di Insieme Fiati a Piacenza (Aurelio Canonici, cond.):

    Heights Chamber Orchestra (Eric Berken, cond.):

    Maurice Ravel, Le tombeau de Couperin: Forlane

    Artur Rubinstein:

    Vlado Perlemuter:

    Ravel, Miroirs: Oiseaux Tristes (Sorrowful Birds)

    Robert Casadesus:

  44. Sandy Asher August 29, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    Billy and I attended many an annual Children’s Literature Festival together in Warrensburg, MO, back in the day — and other events as well. All of the authors stayed in a dorm together, so we had many a late night of drinking wine (not technically allowed in the dorm) and talking. He was always full of wonderful stories — many of them about the family — and exuded such kindness and warmth. I so looked forward to seeing him at each event, and already felt a loss when his move to Thailand brought the Warrensburg reunions to a halt. We had bursts of intense email correspondence now and then — much of that about his happiness with Coke. It was a privilege to know Billy. My condolences to his beloved family and friends.

    Sandy Asher

  45. Dan DeGennaro August 30, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    I grew up in the 1980’s in the Boston area, and William Sleator was my favorite author growing up. Interstellar Pig was recommended to me when I was 8 or 9 years old by a school librarian, and after that I was hooked (The Boy Who Reversed Himself ended up being my favorite). I read every Sleator novel I could as a boy, a teenager, and a young adult. I saved several of his paperbacks and will be giving them to my sons so they can get the same enjoyment I did as a boy. I am saddened to hear of his passing. Rest in Peace, and may his words and imagination live on for future generations.

  46. "Jack" from Oddballs September 1, 2011 at 1:06 am #

    Tycho, I would like to take this opportunity to apologize for attempting to get you to drink from the toilet when you were in hypnotic trance. I did not really think you would do it, because in the pamphlet I bought for 25 cents from the back of a comic book it said that the hypnotized person would never do anything he wouldn’t do in his normal waking state. But I was curious what would happen if it was attempted. What I remember is (and it was a long time ago), you went over to the toilet and just stood there. That confirmed that the information in the pamphlet was reliable and correct. I remember there being some inaccuracy in Billy’s account of the episode in Oddballs, but I no longer remember what.

    For years I have been intending to read some of Billy’s young adult fiction, and his passing sort of catalyzed me into taking action. The only Sleator title in Barnes and Noble was The Boy Who Couldn’t Die. Now, I imagine that, in general, reading the work of a deceased author that one has known in life could kind of create an impression that he is still around. In this case, the book I picked up is about a boy who uses magic to achieve immortality.

  47. "Jack" from Oddballs September 1, 2011 at 4:10 am #

    I loved Billy’s account of going fishing with the friend in the lake in the jungle. I used to have a vinyl record of electronic music by Morton Subotnick called Silver Apples of the Moon. I never realized what the title referred to; it’s a very beautiful poem. Here is a link:

  48. "Jack" from Oddballs September 1, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    In Marco’s Millions, which I found in a used book store last week, the Sleator house on Washington Street is a supernatural character. In the basement there is a portal to another world. Evidently Billy wished to keep the portal a secret between himself and Vicky, and didn’t tell Danny and Tycho. That house completely dominates my childhood memories. The Spirit of Creativity resided in the house, and Billy channeled it. I feel very blessed that I can now look forward to a completely unique reading adventure, dozens of books await me constructed with scenes and characters drawn from a place and time of which I was a part.

    In the matter of sleepovers, I think there was a tacit agreement between Danny and me to drop reciprocity, because his house was more fun. The third floor with slanted ceilings was Billy’s studio, and it had plenty of pillows for pillow fights. On one wall Billly (and Vicky?) had painted a mural. In the center was a witch with a black pointed hat stirring a large pot. To the left of that was a two-headed green cyclops, one eye and one horn on each head. I think it was only painted from the torso up, as if emerging from something, with only two arms for the two heads, anyone remember? There might have been a third entity on the mural, on the right of the witch, but I’m not sure.

    The house faced the north, and you crossed a large porch to the front door on the east corner. Billy’s piano, with mechanical metronome, was to the left as you went in, between the wall and the base of the stairs described in Marco’s Millions. The stairs led to a landing with stained glass windows, only half a floor up, which had another set of stairs leading to it from the hall between the piano room and the kitchen. These stairs were all excellent for playing with slinkys.

    To the right of the piano room, along the front of the house, was the living room. It had a large maroon rug. One day I was sitting on the rug with my chubby legs splayed straight out staring at the carpet. I must have been around 3. Probably I didn’t know what you are supposed to do when you go over to someone’s house to play, with a different mother in the house. Billy walked by, stopped, looked a me, and uttered a three syllable sentence that nailed the scene to my long term memory banks. Not just the words themselves, but the pitch and emphasis, the manner of utterance, were memorable: sort of a lilting sing-song. The words were telling me to ingest a substance. The second syllable was emphasized, and a half or whole tone higher than the first syllable. The third syllable was my name, Paul, and it was uttered starting with a low pitch and rising to about the same pitch as the second syllable. Now that I think of it, it’s possible that this scene took place not in the living room, but in the adjacent dining room. In that room was kept some sort of cloth screen that had a speaker behind it.

  49. Mary Downing Hahn September 6, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    Like Sandy Asher, I met Bill at the Children’s literature festival in Warrensburg, MO. Unfortunately I saw him only once — the next year he was in Thailand, but I remember he was wearing a leather jacket and a pirate kerchief. I was totally awestruck. Still a Children’s librarian who thought of herself as a part-time writer, I’d read and loved many of his books(Oddballs is still my favorite). He was funny and friendly and I’ve always hoped to see him again. The stories about him on this site are wonderful.

  50. Ellen Wittlinger September 6, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    Billy was one of those people you feel you’ve known forever the first time you meet them. I was always glad to see his name included among the speakers if I was also on the docket for a conference. The event I remember especially was four or five years ago when the NCTE met in Nashville at the enormous biosphere hotel complex there where, after a day or two, we were all claustrophobic and longed to get outside and breathe real air. And so seven or eight of us (Jason Wells, you were there) spent an evening lost on the streets of Nashville, roaming around looking for a decent restaurant and listening to Bill’s hilarious stories. (And this was after the night he climbed on the restaurant table to “feed” the fish plaque that hung on the wall.) A rousing weekend I’ll never forget. He was a one-in-a-million guy and I’ll miss him.

  51. Ivo September 8, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

    I am saddened to hear about Mr. Sleator’s death. I did not know him personally, but his stories and novels captivated me, starting with “Blackbriar” which I read when still a child.

    My condolences to his family and friends,

    Ivo from Innsbruck/Austria

  52. Bill Redd September 14, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    I first met Billy in 1974 in his parents’ backyard in Urbana. We shared great conversation and his father’s strong whiskey sours poured from a Pyrex coffee pot (a Sleator tradition). I distinctly remember my first impression of him: a person with special charisma — interested in what other’s had to say, charming in his understated modesty, and funny. Esther thought that Billy and I might share an interest in behaviorism and B. F. Skinner. Billy has just begun writing “House of Stairs” and I taught the Behavior modification course at the U of I. She was right and the following year we co-authored a laymen’s book on behavior modification. Billy was a wonderful collaborator: patient and always positive. He had no attitude. He was a great mentor to me and gave me the confidence to write another book without him two years later. We kept up until is death, via emails and occasional visit in NYC, Boston and once in Bangkok (when he insisted on spending six days showing my wife and me his favorite places). I am saddened by the fact that his life was cut short and by the possibility that he may not appreciate the big impact he had on others (as evidenced by the many blogs that have been received) or his prominence it the field of children’s literature (as evidenced by his long obituary in the Times and his Wikipedia entry). I will miss Billy greatly: he was a wonderful and generous friend.

    • Steve Weiner September 16, 2011 at 10:02 am #

      I think I can answer one of the questions Bill Redd has asked; specifically whether or not Billy Sleator felt recognized by his achievements as a young adult and children’s writer. He did. By my count, Billy’s books won 57 awards. These were primarily awards for books that got kids reading(Billy had that hypnotic zing in his books that made it very hard to put them down) or awards where kids voted as opposed to adults. He was especially gratified when he’s meet an adult in his or her 30s or 40s who’d read & remembered his earlier books(which happened particularly when he’d meet a TV or movie producer & discuss the possibility of one of books becoming a film or a TV series). In recent years, his books have turned up as books characters read in current YA novels. Of course he wouldn’t have minded winning the Newbury or the Printz awards, but he realized that he didn’t write the kind of book that would fly in those circles, & as he used to say, “You can only write the kind of book you can write.”

  53. Andrew Beamon September 14, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    William Sleator was my young-adult idol. He was a hero to me at the age when those books found me. His books attracted me like so few others could, and his unique stories left no room for disappointment. I emailed him a few times when I was 12 or so, and he took the time to respond, and talked to me about writing, his creative process and all the things that go along with these topics. His works really meant, and STILL mean, more to me than the vast majority of the works I have read. Today I looked him up to see if he had written any new books, as I had been thinking of his older ones of late, and I saw that he had passed away. I can’t believe how devastated I was that someone who I never actually met could effect me on this level. I suppose it’s because even if he had never emailed me, he still spoke to me through his writing. In his memory, I’m going to go back and re-read those books that still have a place in my memory, in spite of all the other books I’ve forgotten.

  54. Linda Bass September 15, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    I became a friend of Billy’s during the 70s when he was the pianist for Boston Ballet. What a delight to have Billy playing opera arias for some of our exercises adding some variety to his extensive repertoire. He and his partner, Paul, then joined us on tour allowing us more time to enjoy Billy’s intellect and witty sense of humor. Never a dull moment. And more recently, how I loved sending Billy an e-mail and getting an immediate and very detailed account of his life. I have now missed the opportunity to visit him in Thailand as we so often discussed, but I can imagine being with him just like the old days and it puts a smile on my face. I will miss him.

  55. Augustus van Heerden September 26, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    Billy was such a warm, kind, person, he has enriched my life in so many ways. I will always remember him as a gentle force. He had so much to give and gave generously. My thoughts are with his family and the friends who were closest to him, he will be greatly missed by all of us.

  56. Nicolas Pacana September 27, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    Billy touched the heart and soul of everyone he came in contact with! Fond memories of him playing the Piano and Boston Ballet and on our European tours are flooding over us! Thank you Lord for letting Billy share his very special person with us!

    Gregory Aaron and Nicolas Pacana

  57. Mary Jane Isaacs September 28, 2011 at 10:04 pm #

    I also was a dancer in the Boston Ballet company when Billy played for company class in Boston and while on tour. He was a gifted pianist who could play the classical musical well but always interejected a show or current pop tune for variety. His music always brightened my days and energized me for the long day of rehearsals to come. He and Paul kept my new husband company while we were rehearsing and the three of them drank many a drink together. An avid Sci fi fan, my son read his books when just a wee little guy and mom had much more cache having known the author than ever dancing professionally! Billy was a treasure that will be dearly missed by all whose lives he touched and inspired through the years. Mary Jane

  58. Randee Dawn October 1, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    I just finished reading “House of Stairs” to my fiance (who will be my husband in a day or two) a few days ago. I’d forgotten the details, the power of the characterizations and the ending specifics, but I knew it was one of my favorite stories from when I was younger. I am sorry I missed the chance to tell Mr. Sleator personally how he enriched my reading experiences over and over again.

  59. Laura M. October 14, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    I did not know William Sleator personally, so I hope this is appropriate that I am posting this on here. I stumbled upon “The Green Futures of Tycho” in my middle school library 24 years ago. I had always hated reading. But I probably checked this book out from the library about 20 times. Ironically, this book actually changed the course of my future by getting me interested in literature where I am now a writer for a PR firm.

    As soon as my niece was born 10 years ago, I got on Amazon to order it for her and discovered a treasure trove of his books I never knew existed. After my $160 order, I tracked down his email address to thank him for effectively changing my life and what will probably be my niece’s. Not only did he write me back, he wrote a VERY long email about how much he enjoyed hearing from his fans and what his life was like in Thailand with his garden. We ended up exchanging many emails back and forth, long emails about how we had both gone to universities for music performance and hated it, switching to english. He was so brutally honest about everything. What an amazing man, spending time writing a complete stranger.

    Last month, something told me it was finally time to send the books to my niece. I went to get his email again to thank him, and it didn’t take long to see the terrible news. I am devastated. But in answer to whether or not Billy Sleator felt recognized by his achievements as a young adult and children’s writer. I believe he did. Anyway, I told him so. And it seemed to mean the world to him.

    He will live on eternally through his books. Getting young adults to read at that exact age where their lives are beginning to take shape.

    Rest in peace, William. And thank you again. Wherever you are, I know you are surrounded by a beautiful garden with “Firebird Suite” in the background.

    • Linda Bass November 20, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

      I had to laugh at the “VERY long e-mail” section! Sometimes Billy wrote so many LONG e-mails, that I wondered when he found time to write his books.

      And, yes, Billy was very aware of his achievements. It’s that acknowledgment that allowed him to open up others to their own! And yet take it all as simply life. Thank you for sharing. Linda Bass

  60. Julie Miller October 14, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    I was devastated today to learn of Mr. Sleator’s passing. I never knew him, but House of Stairs was the only good thing that happened to me in my entire seventh grade year. I’ve read all his other books as well, and am glad that there is still one more coming out soon. I am so sorry to hear he is gone.

  61. Greg Holch October 23, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    I was sorry to hear that William Sleator died. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. When I was an editor at the Scholastic book clubs we used to offer some of his books.

    My apartment in New York City looks down on two traffic lights. I was looking out the window yesterday, and the lights reminded me of House of Stairs.

    On the bookshelf directly behind me is a copy of Oddballs. I haven’t read it in a while. It’s time to read it again.

  62. ldarwinL November 6, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

    I just found an email reply he wrote me a couple of years ago, that I kept and found very nice and hilarious. I just wrote him a small fan email, and I was pleasantly surprised to get such a fun reply, and I cherish it.
    I hadn’t known of his passing until just now. 😦 I’ve been reading his books ever since I picked up “Fingers” almost 20 years ago. My love of sci-fi is in large part due to finding his books at the library and absolutely loving them. The Boy who Reversed himself is also one of my favorites, and to this day I read everything I find on multi-dimensions. I will miss opening his new books. But I’ll always keep reading and sharing his stories. _Liz

  63. Gail Mazur Handley November 11, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    Billy and I played cello and shared a stand in orchestra all through junior high at Hanley and two summers at music camp. During these rehearsal hours, I knew I was lucky to have Billy with his unique ideas and humor virtually all to myself.

    Once, still in junior high, he was at my house for dinner and tried to ask my strict and often humourless father to “Please pass the butter.” But, Billy didn’t quite get it all out – instead he said, “Please pass the butt.” We were probably about thirteen, and although we tried to stifle our laughter we found this too hilarious and the food came flying out of our mouths. Throughout high school we reminded each other of that moment repeating, “Please pass the butt” and even then, laughed each time.

    Billy was my jitterbug dance partner and we loved choreographing our own complicated dance sequences. But once we oddballs began going to folk dance, Billy had become so popular within our group that I only rarely got to dance with him.

    I occasionally saw Billy in the summers during our college years, but after I moved to Canada in 1970, we lost touch. In 1993, when my son was about ten, I bought some of Billy’s books and wrote to him. We started a correspondence, initially by snail mail and eventually email that lasted for the next 18 years. He was surprisingly reluctant to give up paper letters, but in time, we settled into an email routine meaning that he answered my letters immediately and consequently, I always owed him one. As I expect others also learned about Billy, 1) any letter you sent, no matter how short, got a lengthy, heart felt response, and 2) he hated attachments – he said he couldn’t open them.

    Billy would occasionally tell me a problem he was having in writing one of his books. Once he explained how he had written his protagonist into such a fix, that he couldn’t find a way out for him. I’ve read most of Billy’s books and can’t remember which it was – but I think this one involved the band room at U. City High. After he published Hell Phone, I told him that I liked his version of hell and he said that, for him, it was exactly what hell would be like.

    Billy was totally open about who he was and what he was about, and I felt honoured that he was so comfortable tossing it all on the table with no editing. And when I risked doing the same, I could count on Billy to be totally accepting, tolerant, and supportive.

    Despite his enormous talents and success, as others have already mentioned, Billy remained humble, generous, gentle, and a true friend. I loved Billy and miss him already.

    Gail Mazur Handley

    • Linda Bass November 20, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

      Oh my! I never knew Billy was a jitterbugger! All those years of playing for Boston Ballet and he never once mentioned it to me. I can just see him now! Thanks for sharing.

  64. Bob Rose November 22, 2011 at 4:12 am #

    It was with great dismay that I learned of Billy’s death. I first met him in grade school at Delmar-Harvard and we shared classes for for most of our early lives. When I was first allowed to visit a schoolmate’s home on another block, it was to Billy’s house and I still remember the puppet playhouse on the third floor. His family seemed so exciting and in a subtle way, the Sleator’s, the Lowry’s and the Hexter’s were the models for the extended family I didn’t have.

    So many people drift apart as they mature and I lost track of Billy, but years later I was excited to hear he was an author. When I finally read some of his work, it was like being in the room with him again. I tried to see him in Boston, but there was no answer–I guess it was a time when he was abroad.

    Thankfully these links allowed me to see him again and it was good to see the comments of some old friends with whom I have not kept in touch. Maryanne’s puns, Gail’s cello and ponytail, and Sandy’s cigarettes are all fond memories. No sleight intended to everyone else from U. City, my regards to all of you–it’s just too bad I rediscovered you under such painful circumstances.

    Marilyn, the Yellow Submarine is the only oil painting in my study and every time I look at it, I miss you. Now when I look at it, I’ll miss Billy, too.

    • Marilyn Banner May 2, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

      I don’t know how I just read this post today (may 2) – but this letter is so touching, and you and I share SO many memories. And the yellow submarine – that moves my heart.

  65. Debbie December 7, 2011 at 11:39 pm #

    I didn’t know Mr. Sleator personally, but I read and loved all the books that my local library had of his, over a few summers in junior high. To my best recollection, these were the ones:

    Among the Dolls (1975) (the baby doll), Fingers (1983) (the mistakes), Interstellar Pig (1984) (lichen), Singularity (1985) (scary twins), The Boy Who Reversed Himself (1986) (ketchup!), The Duplicate (1988)
    (and then I got older and read fewer sci-fi and more romance… sorry! :-O )

    “Fingers” was always my favorite, even though I was aware that the Piggy was popular to everyone. Somehow I always liked the idea that the older brother got the brains and memory, and the younger brother got the hands in that story. I came across his wikipedia page two years ago, and read Oddballs and was fascinated, by the opposite of “helicopter parenting” that his mom and dad practiced.

    I’m procrastinating on my grad school final papers tonight so went looking for him again, and I am so sorry to hear that he passed. I’m going to have to go and find all the books that came after I left junior high and catch myself up on the magic worlds of William Sleator.

    Debbie ~ a fan

  66. Michael Jefferies December 12, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    William Sleator was my favorite author in middle school, The Green Futures of Tycho being my favorite book. Still to this day, I enjoy a good time travel novel or movie, but none quite live up to my memories of reading and re-reading this book as a kid.

  67. Sujeevan Kanageswaran December 20, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    One of my most favorite authors of all time.
    The reason I started to love reading.
    RIP Billy.

  68. Jacob Zaborowski January 1, 2012 at 3:50 am #

    It seems strangely fitting that I happened to just find out that William Sleator has died, because earlier, I had actually picked up “Oddballs” because I wanted to read the chapter called “Dad’s Cool”. A little backstory: I came into contact with Oddballs very early in my childhood (about eight or nine years old), courtesy of my older brother. “Oddballs” always stood out for me because no matter what the situation, whether it was VIcky getting arrested on her birthday, or Tycho getting hypnotized, I believed it all. Even if it had been totally fictitious, and not even remotely based on his childhood and adolescence, I would have believed it. He painted it so vividly. That is not neccessarily an easy task for writers, let alone anyone to do, and he did it. In ruminating about why this singular book affected me, I realized, he let the reader relate to his characters. I didn’t relate to hobbits, or teenage vampires, and I even stopped after a certain point with Harry Potter. But I unconditionally and happily laughed at/with, worried about, and even got annoyed at, Billy, Vicky, Danny, Tycho, their parents, their neighbors, their friends, and everything. They weren’t heroes, or villains, but characters, people. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

    Thank you, and rest in peace, Mr. Sleator.

  69. Amjed Baghdadi January 3, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

    I find it difficult to find words to describe how this wonderful master of words affected my life. Much like many others who have posted above, I discovered the works of William Sleator in 5th grade when my teacher shared Into the Dream with us. I was/am convinced that I had come upon the most amazing story ever. Thus began my love for reading and writing. Actually, the book The Boy Who Reversed Himself has had a tremendous impact on my spiritual perception of the world. Over the years, I often found myself venturing to the public library to see if there were any books by my “favorite” author.

    A couple of years ago, I began reading some of the stories to my own sons starting with Into the Dream of course. After writing one of my first serious attempts at something publishable, I discovered Billy’s email online and wrote to him to tell him of the impact he had on me. Graciously, he agreed to read my work and offer some thoughts. Busy with the day-to-day grind, I moved away from writing and didn’t reach out again. Seriously, he probably had millions of fans, right?

    A year later, I reached out again. Oddly, we started emailing quite a bit and sharing life experiences and passion for writing. Through the numerous emails, I was blessed with a glimpse into the soul of a wonderful , caring, kind person. He even submitted my children’s story Forgetful Fox to his publisher and warned “it may a take a very long time before we hear anything.”

    Together we came up with an idea that ignited excitement for us both. We decided to write a joint story called Intergalactic Pen Pals. He was very excited about the project and confessed that it had been a long time since he had experienced that feeling. Since he was actively working on a project that had three parts he needed to complete before we could work on our joint book, he warned that it may be a few months before would could get started. I said I would let him focus and check back at the new year.

    This is how I came to learn about the parting of the great William Sleator. Rest in peace my friend. I still have our notes in case we decide to finish our book when I get there…

  70. Amjed Baghdadi January 3, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    From an email Billy sent me when I asked about pursuing a career in writing:

    “Writing is hard! I chose to make my career as a writer when I was 22. Now I wonder about that decision. On the other hand, if I were not a successful writer, I would not be able to live in Thailand the way I do. If I had a regular job, forget Thailand. No way! So I guess I made the right choice.” – William Sleator on December 19, 2010

  71. Gail E. Davis January 14, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    My memories of Billy are much like those those of others from elementary, junior high and high school/ The Magic Chalk! I’d all but forgotten of those days. Billy was such a good friend, even to those of us who were on the periphery of his circle. He knew me even if we didn’t spend as much time together as he did with others, and I felt close to him in a very safe way. His humor was delicious. For some reason, I kept a note from him that he wrote when we graduated from high school. I quote : Dear Gail, I love you, I love you, I love you. -Hate, Billy.
    I bought some of his books for my children to read (after reading them myself). I miss him. Thanks for this memorial. Gail Davis, class of 1963, U. City High.

  72. Ted Corwin January 17, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    I grew up with Billy Sleator. We lived next door to the Sleator’s and my sister, Cindy, and I spent all of our free time with Billy and his sister Vicky through out elementary school. We spent most of our waking hours together usually at their house where we had a great sense of freedom.
    My fondest memory is of our annual trek through Forest Park. The four of us would take off from our houses on Washington Ave. armed with a sack lunch and 25 cents in out pockets. We would leave in the morning and make our way to Forest Park entering on the corner of Skinker and Milbrook. We would take nearly the entire day to meander through the park ending up at the Forest Park Highlands. There we would use our 25 cents to go on a ride and buy a treat. Then, after a quick dip in the waterfall at the east end of the park we would cross Kingshighway and head for the Washington U. Medical School at Barnes Hospital where Bill Sr. taught physiology. We would find his lab and watch rats being dissected or other interesting experiments until Billy’s dad was ready to leave. He would drive us home around five o’clock and we would appear at our house ready for dinner. No one questioned or wondered where we had been all day or if we were ok.

    I had lost touch with Billy when we moved when I was in the sixth grade. Thanks to Gail Mazur Handley, Billy and I re-united by email several years ago. I told him that I had loved “Oddballs”, but that there were many memories I had of times with him and Vicky which I wish had been included. I suggested “Oddballs II” and he said it was actually on his to do list, but he still had a number of things ahead of it. Unfortunately time ran out. I would love to have seen that book.

    My sister and I essentially grew up in the Sleator household. We received our first polio shots from Mrs. (Dr.) Sleator. She boiled glass syringes and non disposable needles in a pot on the stove and gave the four of us our shots. We probably ate more lunches there than our own house. Every summer our families would have the swimming pool war, who could get the biggest pool. They eventually won with a black rubber water storage pool about three feet deep and fifteen feet across. We spent hours on the grass lawn of the temple next door with capes made of bath towels around our necks enabling us to fly over the grass. We spent other hours untangling marionettes in their attic so we could put on a puppet show. I remember when Danny was born and then Tycho. Poor Tycho didn’t have a name for a long time and was simply known as Newby.

    Our time, energy and imagination had no limits and Billy was our leader. I’m sure my life has been greatly influenced by our relationship in a very positive way. I wish I had had the opportunity to spend some time with him in our adult lives, but I am very grateful that we at least had contact in the last few years.

    • "Jack" from Oddballs January 18, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

      I remember Tycho being called Newby, a contraction of “new baby”. I also remember the swimming pool. My house had a superior swimming pool; it was sunk into the ground, made of cement with blue paint, maybe 20 feet long, and four (?) feet deep in the deep end. However, that didn’t tip the balance as far as the Sleator’s house being funner to play in. I didn’t live in the Delmar Harvard neighborhood, I went to Flynn Park, but my dad also worked in the medical school.

      I remember the Sleator’s back yard as having large trees shading it. In the warm months the cicadas would sing in the evening while the grown-ups drank cocktails and smoked on the back porch. The grass was somewhat unkempt usually, long grass often with leaves in it, but not grown up into weeds. One day I noticed a small sand pile by the back steps. The grass was encroaching around the edges, and the sand had marks of raindrops, as if no one had used the sand pile in a while.

      The idiots don’t know a good sand pile when they see one, I thought, and got to work digging. Soon I dug up something … something that the cat had buried, as an adult who had been watching from the kitchen informed me, something that was not supposed to have been unburied. And so I learned something new that day about the habits of cats.

  73. Shane Mitchell January 23, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    Bill was a truly wonderful man. I wish I could of had the chance to actually meet him someday. To me he is my favorite author and has been for years. I will truly miss sharing emails with him. I truly believe though, that he is in a better place now. Also i truly hope he knew how much of an imapct he made on my life. For him i hope to god that I can become a published author someday. If that day is to come, it will not of been without the support and guidance of bill. My deepest condolences go out to his family and loved ones. I will never forget bill and i will always consider him to be my first writing mentor. so heres to you bill. I know your in a better place now where you will never again have to suffer. I will miss you and hope to see you someday. Thank you for everything you have taught me and I will never forget you. Sinecerely,
    Shane Mitchell

  74. Gail Mazur Handley February 12, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

    I think today is Billy’s 67th birthday. Miss you Billy.

    • Steve Weiner February 13, 2012 at 8:11 am #


      Its today Feb 13. To commemorate, we watched The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie last night. Muriel Spark was Bill’s favorite writer.

      • Gail Mazur Handley February 13, 2012 at 8:40 am #

        Yup, you’re right – it’s the 13th. Also thanks for mentioning that his favorite author was Muriel Spark. I never knew that.

    • Marilyn Banner February 13, 2012 at 8:58 am #

      Thanks Gail. I particularly loved the piece you wrote a while back, reminded me so much of junior high school days. Or was it senior? This birthday note encouraged me to re-read a lot of the posts, to open my heart once again to those memories and thoughts. It’s the 67th year for that bunch of us, and for Billy in spirit. I am singing Happy Birthday Billy for him! in silence.

  75. cindy persechini bartel April 2, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    gosh..what memories come flooding back as i remember the brief period in the confusing days of high school that i spent with billy, vicky, emily, ann, and all the other folk dancers in u. city. i loved that time and had a huge crush on billy. recently we had emailed and he told me of vicky’s death and the death of his beloved partner. the world has lost another enchanting and beautiful soul. rest in peace, billy.

    • David Persechini April 17, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

      Nice !

  76. David Persechini April 17, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    I knew the sleator family and many of the other jewish intellectuals in the University City culture in the 60’s of which there were many. It was such a pleasure for me then to experience that generousity of spirit and intellect and it is a pleasure for me now to experience the spledid memory of the culture that blessed my childhood – Saturday night folk dancing, Pratzel’s bakery at midnight, all of the friends of my youth that confered on me such a wonderful and open mind – thank you so much.

  77. Carl Banner May 1, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    Washington Musica Viva will premiere Billy’s composition for violin and piano (1965) on Friday May 11, 2012. It is a very good piece! Details at

    • Fred Sard May 4, 2012 at 11:52 am #

      Will there be a concert video or other recording of this? It would be great to be able to hear it.

      • Marilyn Banner May 4, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

        There should be a video, which we will post on YouTube.

      • Carl Banner May 5, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

        Dear Fred,

        I have posted rehearsal mp3s on our website. Also, I posted a blog entry just now that I will paste in here:

        Billy Sleator was a childhood hero of mine, but not a close friend. He was three or four years older, and I was too much of a cry-baby to be running with the “Oddball” crowd. Their irony and dramatic displays were kind of scary to me. I displayed solidarity with them, however, by carrying my books in an army surplus ammunition bag, much to their annoyance. We all went folk-dancing every Friday night (which is where I met Marilyn).

        Like Andy Feenberg and me, Billy was a piano student of Harold Zabrack. Harold obviously had a special tolerance and affection for Billy, even though Billy did not seem to pay any attention to Harold’s musical advice. And he got away with forbidden things like playing jazz and pop. Billy was famous for playing “At the Hop”, an over-the-top experience that neither Marilyn or I will ever forget.

        There was one incident in which I participated in Billy’s wildly creative life; it is memorialized as the fake piano recital in Billy’s autobiographical book “Oddballs”. Interestingly, this was in part Andy Feenberg’s idea, from “Happenings” in Baltimore.

        My son at age 10 or 11 was a big fan of Billy’s books – I think I even might have read him one or two aloud. He was very impressed that mom knew him from 4th grade and had worked on the Magic Chalk. The Sleator books were amazing and fascinating to me also, but being who I am, the discovery of his Composition for violin and piano meant something more.

        Preparing Billy’s 1965 “Composition for violin and piano” has allowed me to get to know him in ways that I could not in life. I hear the piece as a kind of sad and passionate farewell to childhood. I recognize a dirge-like echo of the The Magic Chalk’s “Ken Yovdu” (we all danced to it at folkdancing), a wistful chord or two from Ravel’s Sonatine (from Harold’s lessons?), and even a hint of Billy’s famous “At the Hop” as a torrent of tears. To follow the emotional logic of this music is like having a frank conversation with Billy about an inner life that we did not share then, and the outer life that we shared in part – in University City Missouri in the early 1960’s. From communing with his music, I feel much more that Billy is truly my friend, and I am very very grateful to have known him.

        Best wishes,

        Carl Banner

  78. Marilyn Banner May 3, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    My husband Carl Banner will perform Billy’s Composition for Violin and Piano (1965) on a Washington Musica Viva program on May 11, 2012. You can see the announcement here:

    • Linda Bass May 4, 2012 at 8:48 am #

      Wow! Thank you, I have posted this on FaceBook for all Billy’s Boston Ballet friends to see. We LOVED have Billy as our pianist for ballet class.

  79. Daniel September 11, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    An experience over this past weekend made me want to contact Billy Sleator. I had no idea he had passed away last year; and when I searched for his contact information online to see if I could reach out to him, I was very saddened to learn of the news. I know he has touched the hearts of many.

    This past weekend I was visiting some friends on the upper west side when I noticed this beautiful mask on the wall of my friend’s apartment. All of a sudden, from seeing this mask, I had this flashback to when I was six years old and was visiting Billy’s Sleator’s apartment with my mother and sister. I remember being in Billy’s apartment and being in complete awe looking at all these wild masks from Thailand all over his walls and him letting me, my sister and mother try them all on along with these large straw hats, which seemed gigantic to me at the time. I remember his apartment well (I was living in South Carolina at the time so seeing NYC apartments was a cool experience in itself). But, most of all, I remember his kind spirit and my own fascination with meeting the author of the books I’ve been reading.

    I am 28 now and live in Brooklyn. My mother, Lois, passed away when I was nine. So after this memory of Billy re-emerged in my mind over the weekend, I wanted to connect with him to say hello and to see how he knew my mother. I don’t know how Billy and my mother met or how long they knew each other, but I could see through my six-year-old self, that they had a great fondness for each other. My mother was a teacher, an artist and cellist, so I can imagine they would connect on many levels. I also imagine they both shared an adventurous spirit.

    I read Billy’s books growing up, too. That’s Silly remains imprinted in my mind. And The Duplicate was also a favorite.

    The last time I saw Billy was 22 years ago, but seeing this mask on my friend’s wall brought me back to a memory of Billy that has stayed with me ever since and has brought me closer to both him and the memory of my mother. Through his words and those that he touched, he will continue to live on.


  80. BC Brandt October 14, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    “House of Stairs” was one of my favorite books when I was young. I rank it with Lord of the Flies and Martian Chronicles as an important book young people should read. I forgot about it as I approached college, as we often do, but it’s resurfaced time and time again in memory. I was unable to find a copy for years, but I recently bought it, brand new, happy that they gave it a well deserved reprint. Re-reading it was a joy, and I was pleasantly surprised that it’d held up beautifully over the years. It could just as easily have been written today as decades ago.

    I honestly didn’t realize he had such a wide library of books available; my library only carried the one novel. Now that I know, though, I get to start that trip. I just wish I’d found out about the books–and him–earlier.

    I’m grateful that he wrote, I’m grateful that I found him through “House of Stairs,” and I’m grateful to know he was a good man, and a loved one.

  81. Charles Josephs January 29, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    I read many of his books in middle school and high school. He and Michael Crichton were huge impact on me and I’ve carried their stories around in my head for most of my life. I’m profoundly sad that I’m only now discovering his passing. I wish I could have shared with him the positive influence he has been through his writings. Now that I have kids of my own I fully intend to share my love of his work and, through him and other great authors, open my children’s eyes to the wonders of reading good science fiction and the importance of critical thinking that such stories often (at least indirectly) foster. Thank you, William Sleator. I am eternally grateful.

  82. Amy W. in Los Angeles February 20, 2013 at 2:46 am #

    Billy, oh Billy. I don’t even know where to begin. Maybe I should start by pointing out how badly I’d lost touch with you that I didn’t even know you’d died until I Googled your name on a whim tonight. But of course that also reflects the fact that we weren’t terribly close or old friends. But it also doesn’t mean that, during the few years we communicated — and even met up once at your home in Boston when I was visiting my brother at Harvard!! — we didn’t talk thoroughly about the most private and personal things as if we had been good, old friends. I don’t know how we lost touch, and it had always bothered me that we had. I don’t want to belabor things in this message, because there just isn’t enough room, and besides, I’ve arrived way too late to catch up and reminisce. I know I’m extremely, lamely late in posting this, but it doesn’t diminish how devastated I am that you’re gone and I can no longer… I don’t know, I can’t even finish that sentence. God dammit. I still remember the funny trick you had me and my friend Pat do, during that one visit we paid you, where you pushed down on our outstretched arms until, when you let up on the pressure, our arms felt like they were floating. Dammit, Billy.

  83. Amy W. in Los Angeles February 20, 2013 at 2:57 am #

    p.s. Danny, I doubt you remember this, but the whole reason I was able to make contact in the first place with Billy was through you! It was the mid-90s, I still had my UC Berkeley shell account, and I found your CMU page somehow (using some precursor to Google). So I did what everybody did back then and fingered your account. Then when I saw that you were online, I talk requested you… or maybe I just sent you email (and fantasized about talk requesting you). In any case, that was back in the days when the internet was simpler and less cynical. Even if you don’t remember this, thank you for connecting me with your brother.

  84. Amanda April 2, 2013 at 9:02 am #

    I just read about his passing away, so my reply comes a bit late. I never met William Sleator, but to this day in my 30s, I still read his books. I read “Among the Dolls” when I was 9, and after that I was hooked. I think I have honestly read all of them. Being a shy girl without many close friends in middle school, I felt as if reading his books gave me some kind of intimacy that I didn’t even have in my own family. I suppose that is why I am writing here to express my honor and dedication to my favorite author. I am saddened he has passed. I will continue to read his books and tell everyone about them. Interestingly enough, his depiction of England in “Blackbriar” when I read it at 14 was identical to my impressions when I served in England at an AF base when I was 21. How cool is that!?
    Anyway, his books were like poetry to my life. Rest in peace.

  85. Mark May 18, 2013 at 11:54 pm #

    I read “House of Stairs” while in high school and it stayed with me. I tried for years after graduation to find a copy of it (had to search old bookstores…no Amazon back then), but wasn’t able to. I went back to my high school to visit and stopped by the library. I told the librarian about my search and she gave me the library copy to keep. Needless to say, the following week I found a copy in a used book store. I still have both copies to this day. Great story, great concept, interesting characters. William Sleator was an incredible talent and he will be missed.

  86. Pat Lerman June 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    Our impending 50th high school reunion has stimulated me to write a few words too. (What would the reunion be like if Billy were there?)

    Billy wrote a play in high school called, “Dream of a City,” I believe. It was a musical and I was cast in it. The challenge was that I had a solo and I’m no songstress. I couldn’t start the song on key.

    He must have been feeling like he’d made a bad casting decision, but then he told the girls singing the chorus to hum the starting pitch to me sotto voce so I could start.

    Reading through these entries brought back those wonderful weekly folk dances, the after parties, exploring the beatnik life, being flip and witty and blasé simultaneously.

    Billy—you left a huge imprint on this world.

  87. seyfeddinsalem June 28, 2013 at 12:54 am #

    I literally just found out about Mr. Sleator’s and like to offer my condolences. As a child I had read all of his books that were available in our school library in Damascus Syria. What really stayed with me though was when he visited our school in 1994. The whole school had turned in short stories that they had written of which he chose three to share at the school. Out of the hundreds he could have chosen, mine was one of those three. I remember some of the stories he told about his family specifically one involving trying to hypnotize his brother. it was another story involving one of his brothers that had really stuck with me over the years, had come up many times in discussions over the years and just recently in a job interview. He had told us how one of his brothers was working in the field of quantum physics at the time and was working on a specific theory involving the linearity of time and space. I think he called it the Tree Diagram Theory. I really cant be sure, this was nineteen years ago and I was only 12. In conclusion, the few days I heard him speak had a great impact in my life and really cultivated a lifelong fascination with science and technology. Thank you, you will be missed.

  88. Rose Tai October 6, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

    I just found out about his passing today, and am greatly saddened. I’ve just written a blog about my thoughts on Mr. Sleator (the link is in my name). The entry is a little emotional.

    I’ve never met Mr. Sleator, but I have many fond memories of reading his books. I made it a point to read all his books since I enjoyed them so much.

    This is my message to Mr. Sleator, from my blog:

    “William Sleator, thank you for your stories. There’s so much I want to say, but so much is going through my head. During my high school years, your stories delighted me and opened my eyes to new dimensions, ideas, and ways of thinking. Even going into adulthood, your stories still gave me such enjoyment. It was almost like having a book companion of sorts, every now and then popping into my life with warmth, intrigue, and joy. I would even say it was like having a friend, but I think anybody reading that would think I was crazy.

    Even though you have passed on, you’ll still be remembered — till the end of time. I know I will never truly forget, because I know days from now, weeks from now, years from now… I will pick up your books and live through your wonderful stories again. *humbly bows head, blinking away tears* Arigatou gozaimasu!!! Thank you very much!!!!”

    Thank you and rest in peace.

  89. Katie October 16, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    Though I grew up reading all of Bill’s books and have always been an avid fan, Bill and I were pen pals (even though we were technically e-mail pals, I like “pen pals” better) throughout 2009 and 2010. See, House of Stairs was one of my favorites growing up (bested only by Interstellar Pig) and, when I went to grad school and became a behavior analyst, I picked it back up and read it again due to a sneaking suspicion. Well, my jaw dropped because Bill had written about schedules of reinforcement!!! We’re talking technical language and all! Therefore, I found Bill’s email address and promptly asked him about this and found that he had written a book on behavior modification (with William H. Redd) in the 70’s and had learned a lot about the principles of behavior analysis in the process. Anyway, that started a friendship that spanned all sort of topics, personal to social, as well as in depth discussions about some of his books. I remember him writing to me about mirror boxes and all the research he did on serial killers for the book (The Phantom Limb) he was working on. In fact, Bill told me he had just finished the sixth re-write of it and sent it off just before he left to go back to Thailand (I believe that was in May, 2010 because I remember worrying about all of the riots and shootings that were happening in Bangkok at the time). I was looking forward to publication of The Phantom Limb but also the many other books I expected him to write in the years to come. I enjoyed discussing quantum mechanics with Bill after I read The Last Universe. It was weird, I had just purchased that book in 2010 and read it, having never read it before, yet I was absolutely certain of everything that was about to happen and I recognized every word as I read the book! From the first page, I had a distinct memory of all the places and events in the book. When I e-mailed Bill about this, he said, “You must have ESP!! You can read my mind! You are MAGIC!! Hey, maybe you can write my books for me from now on. I feel like taking a break,” which made me laugh! I miss my friend, who also happens to have been a significant role model in my life, and here’s to Bill! I will always keep all of your books in a place of honor on my bookshelves and you will never be forgotten….

  90. Geoffrey Adams November 4, 2013 at 1:23 am #

    I discovered Mr. Sleator’s books in my school library when I was in middle school. It was a difficult time for me (as I think it is for many people), but I remember those books as a bright spot, a refuge with wonderful ideas that were simultaneously challenging and comforting. Although I feel as though I remember them only dimly now, the memories of these stories are strongly emotive for me. And indeed, I realize in thinking back just how much they shaped my thinking about science and the world around me. General relativity from Singularity, multidimensional geometry from The Boy Who Reversed Himself, non-Euclidean geometry from House of Stairs… but through it all the focus was on real human psychology and relationships. My interest in science and science fiction was already strong, but I believe that more than any other single author, Mr. Sleator helped me build intuitions about complex scientific ideas at a young age that were genuinely helpful in my subsequent science education. Today I am working on my Ph.D. in neurobiology, and at least some of the credit for my education to this point belongs to him.

    The name William Sleator was very important to me at twelve years old, but some time in the intervening years I forgot it. Occasionally I would remember the stories, and be frustrated at my inability to remember their titles or the author. I only just tonight stumbled across his name again, and the old memories and feelings of excitement were rekindled. I’m very saddened to learn that he has died, and too young. Yet, his books remain, and I am looking forward to rediscovering them.

    William Sleator must have touched the lives of thousands of people like me, who never met him yet were comforted by his words. My condolences to his friends and family; it seems it has been two years, but I know that grief never really goes away.

  91. emilie123 December 16, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

    To the family of William Sleator. I have just posted this on my Facebook Page:

    A lovely tribute to one of my favorite authors of children’s books. I first discovered him, as an adult, while walking through the Children’s Room at the Cuyahoga County’s Beachwood Library and read the book that I picked up there, going on then to read several more of his books. I want to re-read ‘The Interstellar Pig’ one of these days. I have just ordered his last book, ‘The Phantom Limb.’ May you rest in peace, William Sleator knowing that you are fondly remembered.

    Remembering William Sleator’s Haunting Tales
    NPR’s Petra Mayer reflects on the life and writing of author William Sleator.

  92. Joey V January 31, 2014 at 5:52 am #

    To all of Bill’s friends and family: It’s been more than two years and I’m still reeling. I only knew Bill via phone and email (although he invited me and my family to visit him in Thailand or Boston). But he really made a difference in my life. We used to talk about books and movies. I even made a prototype game of Interstellar Pig many years ago and gave it to Bill as a present, and we spoke many times about it. Sadly, we did not get to play it together. Since the board game rights for Interstellar Pig were tied up at Viacom, I have spent the last two years creating a new board game that is obviously inspired by Bill, and the support of the board game community has been incredible. If anyone is interested, I’ll be publishing the game this year, and I intend on donating some of the proceeds to a charity in his honor. If you are interested in the game, there’s a link below.

  93. scrivener February 13, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

    Happy birthday, William Sleator.

  94. Jordan Lynch August 9, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

    Though I never met Bill in person, we corresponded by email for many years. My correspondence with him started as a freshman in high school and continued on into college years. Others have stated that he was a generous and kind soul, I wholeheartedly agree with these sentiments. I’m totally blind and this always seemed to interest Bill greatly, that I was able to read his books without the use of the printed word. He sent me the last two unpublished drafts of Test and The Phantom Limb. I lost contact for about a year, started to email him and saw the news of his death when I was checking to see if his latest had been published. Tears immediately sprang to my eyes, much like they fall now as I read the posts of those before me and as I write this. He will always be a dear friend to me. Rest in peace Bill, thanks for being such an awesome, all-around nice guy. And thank you Danny for putting this wall up for all of us to grieve. Bill will be forever and fondly remembered by everyone.

  95. Jordan Lynch August 9, 2014 at 6:02 pm #

    One further note, if anyone has any information on obtaining an EBook of Phantom Limb I would greatly appreciate a reply. I lost the original draft he sent me due to the email address I previously used expiring, it was an old college account. I would love to have his last novel though. Thanks guys.

    • joey v August 10, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

      i saw an uncorrected proof copy at my local used bookstore, there should be plenty of hard copies available

  96. Robert Womack November 14, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    I didn’t know Mr. Sleator, but I have been a true longtime fan of his work. I should say I am now in my fifties, but have enjoyed his young adult novels for years. Good writing—whatever the intended audience—never gets old or goes out of fashion. As a college teacher with graduate degrees in both English and Counseling, I have used his novel “House of Stairs” to great advantage with classes of students of all ages. The lessons it teaches are just as important today as they ever were—likely more so. Mr. Sleator just had a way of pulling the reader into his prose and holding you there, making you completely unwilling to leave until you finished the book. That’s a very special gift. He will be missed, but I am so glad we have his works to enjoy again and again. To his family and friends, my condolences and God bless!

  97. Anthony December 1, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

    Can someone please help me find a high resolution photo of William Sleator? He was my idol and I am trying to surround myself with positive energy. Please help!

  98. Olivia Heller April 18, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

    I am a fourteen year old girl in Alabama, and I still strive to read his books. He is my favorite author.

    • emilie123 April 20, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

      Olivia, I am so happy to hear that you found his books at your young age.
      I too, loved all of his books, I found the first book of his that I read, while passing through the Children’s Room in the Beachwood, Ohio Library.

  99. Gail Handley February 13, 2017 at 11:10 am #

    Remembering your Birthday today, sweet Billy.

  100. jeffbaker307 March 18, 2017 at 8:00 pm #

    I never met Mr. Sleator but I read “House of Stairs” when I was in High School in the 1970’s and in the ’90’s when I was studying (on my own) to become a writer I stumbled upon several of his books in the library and devoured them. I regard the long scene of the condensed year inside the singularity-shed in “Singularity” to be one of the most gripping in YA literature, and I have re-read it several times since. My sympathies to Mr. Sleator’s family, and thanks for all the books!

  101. Abby May 29, 2017 at 7:15 pm #

    I wrote the following in an email before I found this page:

    Dear Dr. Sleator,

    I just found out your brother, my favorite YA author, William Sleator died. I realize this is 6 years past the fact, but I just saw the obituary in the NYtimes. I have to say I am stunned as I always felt a connection with him. I met him twice, when he visited Wellesley Middle School when I was in 8th grade (circa 1993), where he signed my copy of The Duplicate with “Don’t duplicate yourself”; And then again at a Master’s tea at Yale University where I asked him if the exit in the House of Stairs was up or down, which amused him as he had not been asked that before (circa 2000). I always thought I would meet him a third time, ala a Vonneguttian karass, but I guess that is not to be. After college, my boyfriend lived in South Boston and it thrilled me to see that WS lived around the corner. I somewhat fantasized knocking on the door (as he was in the phonebook then) and saying hello, but decided that was a bit stalkerish.

    Anyways, my deepest and belated condolences on your loss. WS was an excellent author and a formative component of my young adulthood. I will forever associate Queen Elizabeth and her “striped BMs” with your family.

    Sincerely yours,
    Abigail Ryder

  102. Britton Kerin July 27, 2018 at 3:07 pm #

    I wasn’t lucky enough to meet him, but Interstellar Pig made a lasting impression on me. It’s both hugely entertaining and profound without being preachy or self-possessed. And I too love naked mole-rats (these days who doesn’t I guess).

    Interestingly I wandered to William’s page from Daniel’s from Flashback to the 1993 internet. So now I guess I’m a fan of this whole family 🙂 Daniel for pres!

  103. maureenwx2 July 29, 2018 at 9:36 pm #

    Stared new project:

  104. Keelah Rose Calloway October 31, 2018 at 9:41 am #

    His books taught me so much and I truly loved them. I emailed him and maintained a correspondence with him starting in 2007. I was hoping to visit him in Thailand but didn’t make it over there till 2015, and he was already gone. We had dinner in Boston once. He was so kind and so interesting to talk to. I miss his writing. I hope he died peacefully and happily.

  105. Llb June 3, 2019 at 11:33 pm #

    Such a great writer I loved House if Stairs growing up and rediscovered him as an adult. I can tell he was well loved as a person also.
    He lives on.

  106. Jane Maxwell July 1, 2019 at 2:08 am #

    Sad he is no longer with us. I loved his books so much as a teen especially Blackbriar and House of Stairs.

    • Amjed S Baghdadi September 16, 2021 at 9:11 pm #

      Totally agree!!! Blackbriar is still one of my favorites. I remember reading Green Futures of Tycho first and fell in love with his writing style. I am grateful I got a chance to start pen-pal emails with him before he left us.

  107. Collin Monahan February 10, 2020 at 12:15 pm #

    Green Futures of Tycho really blew my mind when I was in grade school. About 20 years after that, still remembering it, I looked it up at the Ann Arbor public library and found it was autographed by the author inside the front cover. Hope his books continue to inspire new futures.

  108. ErnestHoxia April 7, 2020 at 9:56 pm #

    read this post here 3d game

  109. Danielle Williams June 23, 2020 at 4:28 pm #

    I grew up reading William Sleator’s books. My favorites were HOUSE OF STAIRS and SINGULARITY, but I read most of them.
    Now I’m an indie writer of sci-fi/fantasy, and horror. When I began putting my books into print–something, due to my shoestring budget, I have to design by myself on the computer–none of the available grab-n-go book sizes (trim sizes) were small enough for my short stories. My thoughts immediately turned to late 90’s editions of his books I had on my shelf that were a smaller, but still satisfying size. I used those as a model and they look really nice! So he and his work are still inspiring folks in many ways.
    Someday, I hope to write something half as good as what Mr. Sleator wrote. May he never go out of print!

  110. Zee Hilal September 16, 2021 at 12:17 am #

    I just read his book when i was 11 yrs old. I searched it up just now on the internet. Well his story lives with me

  111. Brian January 19, 2022 at 10:54 pm #

    Strange Attractors was my first science fiction novel, given to me by a friend in the 4th grade. It was a stepping stone to a lifelong obsession. Thank you, Mr. Sleator. Your stories will live on with my children.

  112. Eugene A October 21, 2022 at 9:02 pm #

    It feels like centuries ago but I read House of Stairs (as well as his other greatest hits) sometime between 1996 and 1998, rented from the NYPL in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. I was somewhere between 9-11 years old.

    Testament to the talents of the author that here I am in 2022 as a 35 year old remembering how much his works, House of Stairs in particular, moved me as a pre-teen. I don’t recall details, nor the ending, but the haunting feeling of that book has stuck with me all these years.

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