Local Author Spotlight: Samuel Moore-Sobel
Name: Samuel Moore-Sobel
Connection to Fredericksburg region: My great-grandfather, Sam Postal, ran a shoe store in downtown Fredericksburg for many years. His store was located at 822 Caroline St. (where the store Du Jardin is currently located). In February 1980, he was shot and killed in his shoe store. It was reported in this very paper. I am his namesake. Whenever I am in town, I make sure to visit the store. It remains an important site with special significance for me and my family.
I was inspired to write a book because: In September 2009, I was hired for a job in my neighborhood to help move boxes and furniture. I was 15 years old at the time, a week away from beginning my sophomore year of high school. I was eager to complete one last odd job before the end of the summer. While I was moving boxes, a box containing sulfuric acid exploded, leaving me with second- and third-degree burns. A few weeks after the accident, I was lying awake in bed, trying my best to fall asleep. Suddenly, I knew I needed to write about my experience and share my story with the world. I wanted to make sense of what had happened to me, while also offering hope and inspiration to others struggling with adversity in their own lives. I realized the only way to achieve some semblance of redemption in my story was by writing about a journey that began with the explosion of a glass jar.
Favorite time/place to write: Usually in the evenings, after work. I write in my home office at my desk. I’ve tried writing in a coffee shop or other places, but I find it hard to focus anywhere else.
Future plans as an author: I’ve considered writing another book. I think I have a few more stories to tell. I’ve always wanted to write a book about my great-grandfather, Sam Postal, and his life, impact, and untimely death.
What I learned from the writing/publishing process: Writing a book is an extremely challenging process. I found the editing to be far more tedious than the actual writing. I edited, and rewrote, and edited again, until my publisher urged me to stop making changes to the manuscript. It was hard to stop. I wanted every word to be perfect. The thought of releasing my book into the world was nerve-wracking, because it’s such a personal story. I also learned that the publishing process takes a while–nearly a year in my case.
My advice for those trying to write a book: First, I think it’s really important to set clear deliverables for any book project and stick to those deadlines. Second, when it comes to publishing, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the publishing options out there. Everyone has different advice. I would suggest that you find the right publishing option that suits your needs. If it’s important to you as an author to maintain complete control over your work, then choose a self-publishing or hybrid publishing option. For other authors, the traditional publishing route might be more suitable. It depends on the situation, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Third, consider the goals for your project. Create a clear marketing plan before your book is sent to the printer. Writing and marketing a book is not an easy task–make sure you are up for it before you take the plunge. Lastly, enjoy the process, and revel in the release of your book. There is nothing quite like seeing the finished product. Only then will you realize that it was worth all the effort it took to get there.
About my work
Book title: “Can You See My Scars? My Unexpected Journey with Trauma, Burns and Recovery”
Plot summary: My book begins with the day of the accident. I recount all the details surrounding the day. Upon arrival at the man’s house, the details changed. Instead of moving items from the man’s garage to his storage unit, we were tasked with emptying the storage unit, and bringing items back to the house. Once the storage unit was emptied, we were told we would be emptying the truck of certain items and then loading the truck with various items from his garage. After completing this task, we ended up taking the loaded truck to the man’s friend’s house. She lived on a hill. There was a shed at the bottom of the hill. We were tasked with clearing out the shed, and instructed to put everything on a concrete slab nearby. A box made its way into my hands. It looked like it was filled with books and hay. I tossed the box as instructed, and the second it hit the concrete slab it exploded. I instinctively closed my eyes, and then felt a substance hit my face. I felt like I was on fire. The pain was overwhelming. I write about the arrival of the ambulance, being thrown into a chemical shower, and looking at myself in the mirror for the first time (I barely recognized myself). Eventually, I found out that the substance that burned me was sulfuric acid. I include scenes from the hospital, including a debridement surgery, and my eventual discharge. Then I write about the long road to recovery—the countless surgeries, procedures and doctor’s appointments. I grapple with my newfound appearance, faith, and loss of friends. Throughout my journey, I’m searching for who I am. I’m wrestling with the implications of my scars, both physical and emotional, and trying to survive an immensely painful experience that never seems to end. I eventually come to realize that we all have scars. Whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, we all carry scars and it is simply what we choose to do with them that defines us. There are a few twists and turns along the way (including a surprising revelation in the last chapter of the book). Ultimately, this story is about my journey of coming to peace with my scars. I hope it helps others who are attempting to do the same.
Publisher: Mascot Books
Publication date: Sept. 1, 2020
Who should read my book? Anyone who has experienced adversity, trauma, mental health struggles, or injury can find a part of themselves in this book. Readers of all ages have shared with me how they were affected by my story. Suffering is universal: we all have our stories of pain, tragedy, triumph, and recovery. The key is to share our stories with each other. That’s the power and beauty of the human experience.