Author Marisa Reichardt Brings Real Issues to the Printed Page

Inspiring young adults to fight for what they believe in.

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  • Written & photographed by
    Kat Monk

Five-foot waves were breaking close to shore, but that was no concern for Marisa Reichardt. She dove under each wave—attempting to reach the calm water just outside the beach break. Marisa, a critically acclaimed author, uses the ocean as an outlet when she needs to reset after writing an emotional scene.

Her debut novel, Underwater, takes on a teenager’s perspective as she tackles the aftermath of a traumatic experience. “My wish is that Underwater helps survivors feel seen, helps people feel less alone and gives people hope,” she explains.

Marisa is taking on big issues—earthquakes, anti-vaxxers and school shootings, to name a few. Often we hear about the victims, but survivors of tragedy can be overwhelmed with guilt, depression or anxiety.

As she began her career, Marisa was active on Twitter and followed young adult (YA) authors, agents, publishers and book bloggers. “The YA community is pretty big and supportive and female-dominated, which I love,” she adds.

With the help of Twitter, she found her dream agent. After following her for quite some time, she was confident she was the right fit for her books. Within a few months Marisa was signed. Underwater was sold to Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Macmillan, and the rest is history. Her next two books, Aftershocks and Juniper Jade vs. Her Parents, will come out in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

In the writing world, authors often joke that the release of your first book is comparable to having your first child. “For me, bringing a book from the seed of an idea to a published final product that I could physically hold in my hands wasn’t unlike the emotional journey I took with pregnancy,” explains Marisa. “I had hopes, worries and hard labor. I cried when I held my daughter for the first time, and I cried when I held my book for the first time.”

As a writer of YA fiction, Marisa has a deep respect for what teens go through on a daily basis. “My wish is that all my books show the power of fighting for what you believe in,” she explains. “I think teenagers get a bad rap. They’re smart and funny and interesting and legitimately fighting to change the world.”