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Creative Writing Alumna Publishes Story in The Atlantic

Published on August 8, 2011

A creative writing major might give job-seeking new grads—and their parents—pause, but those with talent, persistence and good instruction Sarah Turcottecan meet with success.

Just ask Susquehanna’s Sarah Turcotte ’09, a creative writing graduate whose story appears this month in The Atlantic’s summer fiction issue.

Turcotte wrote the story Scars as a sophomore at Susquehanna in Professor Gary Fincke’s advanced fiction class, revised the piece a year later with Professor Tom Bailey in his novella class, and published it in the university’s literary journal in her senior year. It was included in Bennington College’s plain china, an online anthology of what editors deem the best undergraduate writing, where it took top honors in the fiction category and caught the eye of Mike Curtis, fiction editor of The Atlantic.

But success is more than publications and awards. “I honestly feel successful whenever I can find the time and quiet to focus on writing,” says Turcotte, who went on to attend graduate school at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. “Like all writers, I’d like to write and publish regularly, but know it takes work, patience and a lot of perseverance to get there.”

Turcotte credits Susquehanna’s creative writing program with setting her on the right path. “Any success I’ve had is the result of great coaching,” she says.

In fact, graduates of SU’s Writers Institute routinely snag awards and claim publishing coups. Nick Ripatrazone ’03, another creative writing alumnus, was named first runner-up, among some 3,000 entries, in the 2010 Esquire Magazine Fiction Competition for his story Never, Ever Bring This Up Again. The previous year, he was published in The Kenyon Review as the winner of its short-fiction contest.

Nothing Left to Burn, a memoir by Jay Varner ’03, was published by Algonquin Books in 2010, and he was subsequently interviewed by Entertainment Weekly magazine. In its review, USA Today called Varner’s story “painful and poignant,” and a Publisher’s Weekly reviewer said, “Just do me a favor and read this book.”

Three of the first six Bennington Writing Prizes awarded by plain china have gone to Susquehanna students, Turcotte among them.

“Writing is a demanding calling, and success can be measured in different ways,” says Fincke, director of the program. “But we’ve had students published in some of the nation’s most prestigious markets, and our program is only 15 years old.”

For more information, visit The Writers Institute at www.susqu.edu/academics/Writers.asp.


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