William Sleator Biography
William Sleator predated Saw (and Saw II, Saw III, Saw IV, and Saw V) with his young adult novel House of Stairs, in which a group of teenagers find themselves locked in a windowless, doorless house full of traps and surprises. While not as grisly as the torture-buffet created by Jigsaw in the Saw films several decades later, House of Stairs is a quintessential Sleator creation. Though he is frequently labeled as a science fiction writer for young audiences, Sleator’s stories also combine elements of horror and mystery as they explore a variety of issues. Themes of identity and family relationships are strong undercurrents in Sleator’s work. Throughout his books, adolescence is not merely a world of angst, but of genuine terror, with the antirealistic elements often precipitating the characters’ coming of age.
Facts and Trivia
- Writing was not Sleator’s first passion. As a high school student growing up in Maryland, he first garnered attention for his musical aptitude. Sleator wrote many original compositions during his school years.
- Sleator’s mother, a pediatrician, is credited with groundbreaking work in the identification, assessment, and treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.
- Sleator studied at Harvard University and graduated with a degree in English in the late 1960s.
- Thai culture was influential in Sleator’s work. The author spent part of each year in Thailand, and the other part at his home in Boston.
- Sleator was gay or bisexual, and one of the first authors to prominently feature characters hinted to be gay in young adult fiction.
- His brother, Daniel, is a professor of computer science and has done pioneering research in that field.