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Alumni Spotlight Web Exclusive Women of Goucher

Q&A: Sarah Pinsker ’99

Author and Musician

Briefly describe your career (what you do, where you do it, why you do it).
I write fiction. I’m also a folk/rock singer/songwriter with three albums out and a fourth almost done. And I’m the support services manager at Abilities Network, where I work with teens with epilepsy and manage an emergency fund for people with developmental disabilities.  I’ve toured the country playing music, and about 40 of my stories have been published in various magazines and anthologies. I consider the music and the fiction two sides of the same coin; it’s all storytelling.

What has been your biggest professional accomplishment?
I consider there to be a difference between things I’ve accomplished and things I have no control over that have come my way as a result of something I’ve accomplished. The accomplishment is completing stories I’m proud to have written; the acknowledgement of that accomplishment is the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short fiction, and two Nebula nominations, and translations in Spanish and Chinese, and stories in the Year’s Best anthologies. I’m tremendously proud of all of those, because they all start with people reading and enjoying my fiction.

Personal accomplishment?
After thirteen years of temporary visas and immigration struggles and letters and lawyers, my wife finally got her green card this year. There isn’t anything that means more to me.

What are you working on now?
A novelette about music in space and a novel about music in the near future.

How did Goucher prepare you for your career?
I took all of Madison Smartt Bell’s classes and workshops. The workshop format was great, but I didn’t have any discipline at the time. I was a history major, and my classes with Jean Baker and Julie Jeffries gave me a solid foundation of research skills.  I’m going to forget the names of classes, but Dr. Jeffries’ class where the final was to look at the blueprint of a home and describe how a family of that time might spend their day interacting with their home, and Dr. Baker’s classes where we read The Vacant Chair and the Way We Never Were… those classes showed me how ordinary people moved through their homes and their lives. And my senior project working with the library’s Round Robin letters. Those narratives all inform my fiction. I’ve written several stories set in the past, and those classes gave me confidence that I could place characters and make them real.

What is your most vivid Goucher memory?
Flashlight tag in the woods.

How do you stay connected to the college?
I go to some of the public talks and lectures. And I’ve hosted first year students a few times through the host program.

Check out Sarah’s music and writing on her website, sarahpinsker.com/ and follow her on Twitter at @SarahPinsker.

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