Hello Space Cadets! Today, I wanted to introduce you to another author from my WARRIOR WEEKEND INTERVIEW SERIES. This one will be slightly different as Sarah S. Reida is a veterans’ advocate rather than a veteran. She is a mother, amazing author, one heck of a lawyer, and an animal lover.
In full disclosure, I know Sarah personally. She was the David who helped me slay the VA’s Goliath. My wife and I call her our ‘Lawyer Warrior Princess,’ and we are better for having her in our lives. She used to help veterans process claims, until the VA made it dang near impossible for the lawyers to get paid. Now she focuses on helping veteran owned business get certified to get the government contracts.
Sarah Reida was born and raised in the Midwest, where she read anything and everything she could get her hands on – especially scary books. Like most of us, she read R.L. Stine’s and Roald Dahl’s books, and probably some Alvin Schwart’s “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.” Besides the written word, movies played a huge role in her development – sitting on a cinder block at the local drive-in to watch Beetlejuice was a formative event. (I know, only in small towns do those things still exist! In Virginian suburbia those things went the way of the Dodo bird. Bask in the jealousy for a moment… okay, we can move on).
Sarah always knew she wanted to be a writer, but also knew that she’d have to change her name because no one can spell or pronounce it (Schauerte, or Shower-Tee). Luckily, her husband’s last name is easy to pronounce, so she didn’t have to worry about coming up with a pen name! However, she IS very creative so I’m sure she could create a doozy!
Now an Atlanta resident, Sarah lives with her husband, daughter, and their furry children. She works as an attorney who helps veteran small business owners who work with the federal government and writes. My eldest read and loved her debut novel, so hopefully she can crank them out fast!
Sarah is a traditionally published author, who has a passion for writing middle grade novels. She is represented by the LKG Agency for literary rights and New Leaf Literary for film rights and published by Sky Pony Press, the children’s imprint for Skyhorse Publishing. While this isn’t the science fiction I normally cover, as a veteran’s advocate she fits squarely into the theme of my Warrior Weekend Interview Series. And I know many of you have kids, or know someone who does, so this should definitely be something to consider!
If I’ve piqued your interest, keep reading as I interview this lovely veterans’ advocate.
Without further ado, let’s get this interview cranking!
Tell me a little about your time as working with military veterans?
My father is a veteran, and the very first disability claim I did was his. The process was absolutely cumbersome and user-unfriendly, and that made me want to help veterans navigate the process. (I’m currently developing a DIY site for veterans who are pursuing their disability claims). On the veteran business side, that also started with my father – when I was a kid, he had a business and complained that he never knew what his attorney was saying or whether a phone call would result in a bill. My practice focuses on veteran business owners because I recognize the debt our nation owes them, and I want to be able to provide affordable legal services without the legalese or the surprise bills.
How do you feel that your affiliation with the military has influenced your writing?
I wrote a book about a kid whose brother comes home from Afghanistan with PTSD. I thought this was an issue that should be addressed, especially because a lot of folks won’t recognize the symptoms of PTSD. Alas, that book did not sell, but I’m considering revisiting it in the future.
Do you think your exposure to the military lifestyle, and more specifically your meeting all kinds of people, adds to the realism in your books? If so, how?
It sure does, and I think that’s true with any writer. You never know who you’ll meet who might be the inspiration for a character, or an experience that might lead to a plot point. Creativity all stems from something real that happens to us (regardless of how fantastical the book ends up).
Do you feel like there is any bleed over from your time helping veterans into your books?
Directly, no – my books are a creative element, and in a sense an escape from my ordinary world. I will say, though, that I’m passionate about both – each endeavor is something I can’t imagine myself not doing, regardless of pay or the level of difficulty. You never stop doing what you care about.
Now let’s transition over to your writing. When did you start pursuing your writing more seriously?
After law school, I wrote my first book. I wrote FOUR until I landed my first agent in 2012. Despite our best efforts, none of the three books we submitted to publishers sold. Then I wrote Monsterville, and, with the help of my new agent, we sold it in something ridiculous like four months. Looking back on the timeline, I’m surprised I didn’t give up. It is truly depressing.
Of all your work, which was your favorite to write?
Oh, all of the books are my babies. Monsterville was a lot of fun, though, because I studied screenplay writing and got to watch a lot of movies and call it research.
Do you feel like your writing has served any therapeutic value for you? I know that you were part lawyer, part therapist for your veteran clients and heard about the worst days in many of their lives. Has writing helped you process your experiences with that?
Writing is definitely an escape. I love telling a story and painting characters that have the slightest resemblance to folks I know.
If you could serve with any of your characters, who would it be and why?
Definitely Adam. An Eagle Scout, he helps Lissa (my main character in Monsterville) navigate the monster world of Down Below, and I’d trust him in any combat situation.
If you would want to avoid serving with any of your characters, who would it be and why?
Atticus. He’s a monster with his own agenda, and I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him. (Which isn’t far – he’s pretty big).
What are you currently working on?
Monsterville, the sequel!
How can people find you?
If this convinced you to find out more, please look up Sarah S. Reida and become a fan. She is such an amazing person, so give it a shot like I did! I hope you all had a great time getting to know about Sarah; don’t be afraid to say hello here or on her plethora of social media platforms. If she doesn’t respond quick enough, glitter bomb her! Mwahahaha!! Wait, the little birdie tells me she might like this… hmm. Send her mislabeled DVDs of all of her favorite movies? Would that be cruel enough to motivate contact?
Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!
–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are screen grabs taken by JR Handley for use under the Fair Use Doctrine.