Growing up, Sarah Pinsker moved around a lot to places like New York, Chicago, Texas and Toronto, but one thing always stayed the same: her passion for writing and music.
Now, Pinsker, 44, writes science fiction. Her novels and short stories have received 32 major award nominations and four awards. The Baltimore resident is currently a finalist for a Hugo Award and Bram Stoker Award and recently won a Nebula Award for her novelette, “Two Truths and a Lie.”
“[Winning an award is] something that I celebrate every single time it happens, and I’ve been fortunate to have it happen a number of times because it means someone else is reading and appreciating the work,” Pinsker said.
Her most recent novel, “We Are Satellites,” published on May 11, is a futuristic science fiction story about how a brain implant that improves intelligence divides a family who have different beliefs about it. Pinsker uses this story to showcase that profit is often viewed as more important than people’s well-being.
“If the ethics of something comes up against the profit, which is going to win: profit for the company or the right thing to do?” Pinsker said.
Her upcoming story, “A Better Way of Saying It,” which will be released in October, is a historical novel, showcasing her love for history in addition to science fiction. She was a history major in college and enjoys doing historical research for her books. She loves to discover the “forgotten nooks and crannies” of history, she said.
Her childhood shaped her writing in a number of ways, Pinsker said.
Moving a lot, which her family did because of her father’s career as a Reconstructionist rabbi, was one of them.
“Moving a lot was rough, but it also let me get to know a lot of places, which is kind of a cool thing for a writer, recognizing the different characters of different places,” Pinsker said.
Her parents had a large science fiction collection, as well, which fueled her love for the genre. She gravitated toward it because that was what was around to read.
Pinsker’s mother was a writer, too. Pinsker admired her mom for her hard work and dedication.
“She got up every single morning, and she did her writing,” Pinsker said. “No matter where we were, and what everyone was doing around her, she got her writing in every day during the time that she was writing seriously.”
In addition to her writing career, Pinsker pursues music. When she was young, her cousin gave her a guitar, and she fell in love with it.
She would start a band in whatever place she moved to. Her current band is called the Stalking Horses. The band has been on tours and has released multiple albums.
“We’ve been playing together since college,” Pinsker said.
She has performed with her band, solo and with other musicians and enjoys being able to have different types of performances.
“Playing solo is sort of a one-on-one conversation between you and the audience,” Pinsker said. “As you add band members, it becomes like a larger conversation until it’s more like a dinner party because you end up talking with the other people on the stage, as much as the audience.”
Pinsker believes she can pursue both music and writing, but the balance is difficult to navigate.
“It’s a seesaw with one side up in the air and flailing,” she said. “Since I started writing more fiction I have not maintained the music side of things well.”
She currently has an album in the works that she is hoping to release this summer.
In addition to her father’s career impacting her writing and music since they moved around a lot, his career has also impacted her Jewish identity to this day as a Reconstructionist Jew.
“I have always appreciated those tenets of knowing, making conscious decisions about which practices are important to you in your life,” Pinsker said. “So I’ve tried to do that, and make the decisions about what is important to me and which practices have value to me and why.”
Her Jewish identity, along with her LGBTQ identity, impact the way that she writes because she wants to represent groups who do not get the representation they deserve.
“I choose to populate my books with people who I see and I know exist and who don’t always get written about,” Pinsker said. “I want to include the people I see in my everyday life and who I love and appreciate.”