What is it like being married to a writer?
by Emerian Rich
What is it like being married to a writer?
Sandra Saidak graduated San Francisco State University in 1985 with a B.A. in English. She is a high school English teacher by day, author by night. Her hobbies include reading, dancing, attending science fiction conventions, researching prehistory, and maintaining an active fantasy life (but she warns that this last one could lead to dangerous habits such as writing). Sandra lives in San Jose with her husband Tom, daughters Heather and Melissa, and two cats. Her first novel, “Daughter of the Goddess Lands”, an epic set in the late Neolithic Age, was published in November, 2011 by Uffington Horse Press.
Tom and Sandra met at her friend’s house at a weekly gaming night. Tom says, “We met playing a variant of Dungeons and Dragons called the Total Fantasy Trip I think. I do remember the acronym was TFT.”
Sandra says, “Tom’s been a big supporter of my writing since…well, basically since our first date. I started telling him my ideas for stories I was writing, or planning to write. He was a great listener, but more importantly, he had a way of jumping into whatever story I was working on, and becoming part of it. When I began to seriously pursue writing as a career (attending workshops, joining a writers group, dealing with rejection letters, etc.) Tom encouraged me–even to the point of being single parent to two young children for the weekend. Several weekends, actually.
And now, we get to find out all the good stuff (and bad) that comes with being married to a writer.
What is it like to be married to a writer?
From the perspective of Tom, Sandra’s husband.
Was she a writer before you met?
Yes, she was. She had a whole book dictated on cassette tapes. As for it unfolding, we discussed her stories. Initially I had fun as I got to add major parts to one story involving a “How it should have been done” approach to liberating Nazi concentration camps in WWII.
What is the best thing about knowing the writer? What perks have you been a part of?
A lot. I actually got a writing credit as my wife and a friend came up with a comic story that actually got published. “Steal, Stealth, and Magic” appeared in Eclipse Monthly #9, 1984. I’ve been to a story telling conference that was incredible. With her Kindle sales, I’ve had a lovely two day vacation and have been fed at a couple of wonderful restaurants. I’ve been allowed to write a couple of combat scenes for Sandra and have had a lot of fun arguing story lines with her.
What is the worst thing about knowing the writer? What adverse effects has it had on your life?
I think the worst part of the deal is that she has a mini office in our laundry room. When she wants to write, she can announce “don’t interrupt” and close the door. Especially now that the kids are older, she doesn’t get interrupted. I, as a writing reporter get interrupted all the time, but is because MY office is in the living room.
What plans have you had to change because of Sandra’s career?
I had to become part of the BayCon staff. Poor me. I even have to be Chairman for BayCon 2014, with one of my favorite living authors as the Writer Guest of Honor – and the other guests are AWESOME!
What was the best event you attended with the Sandra?
The best was the story telling conference, back in like 1992 or 1993 I think. Awesome because I got to argue against someone I thought was being arrogant and unnecessarily rude to people. And I got to meet a wonderful story teller.
What was the worst event you attended with the writer?
I can’t think of one. Sandra has been excellent at not dragging me places I don’t want to go to.
Is there anything you wish you could help Sandra with, but it’s out of your control?
I dunno, I pretty much run her computer for her, and I’m the one who put her last two titles up on Kindle – and boy was that a learning curve! Sales! That’s it – I want to be supported in the manner I wish to become accustomed to!
What is your favorite story by Sandra?
Hands down, “From the Ashes,” which has not yet been published. As to why, I really can’t say – spoilers! It is the story I have been most involved with, coming up with ideas, writing a couple of very short combat scenes, and is near and dear to my heart. Sandra originally wrote this as a 5k word short story. Kent Brewster and I talked her into a longer story, and when that was too short, we talked her into a full book.
What is your favorite character by the writer and why?
Adolf Goebbels. The most I can say is that he is a main character in “From the Ashes.”
Do you ever fear Sandra will use something about your life in a story?
Until you asked, I never even considered it. Prehistory is a bit too early for my persona. While she wears a t-shirt threatening people with that, it hasn’t happened to me yet.
Did you ever read something written by Sandra and think… HEY! That was what we did!!
I think the closest we’ve come to that is on trips where she can spend time on the beach, she will often generate story ideas, and those have been used, including a couple with caves.
Does Sandra tell you about bad reviews? If so, how does she cope and how do you help her cope?
This came up with her first self published Kindle book. A review was written that really upset her. I did the usual husbandly things – listened, reminded her that there is no book that everyone loves, reminded her I knew she was doing great. Asked her which of my swords would she prefer I use.
When Sandra gets a good review, a kudo of some kind, finishes a novel, or gets another published, how do you help them celebrate?
Hugs, high fives, congratulations, and Sandra’s favorite – dinner out at a good restaurant. Which reminds me – she just hit over 5,000 Kindle sales. Time for another good dinner!!
Besides Sandra, who is your favorite author? What do you enjoy reading?
Hmm… I don’t do a favorite. Authors I love include David Weber, Lois McMasters Bujold, Elizabeth Moon, S.M. Stirling, Robert Heinlein, Jerry Pournelle, J.K. Rowling, and J.R.R. Tolkien just to name only a few. I love many things – space opera, WWII History, fantasy, space, travel to the stars, and anything else that gets me off this mudball.
Stay tuned to this blog for more behind the scenes interviews with writers and the people who know them best.