Sarah Mahnke was born May 31, 1990 in rural Illinois to an American mother and English-born father in the American Navy. With constant moving back and forth from the east coast, she had a difficult time making and keeping friends. In place, her love of reading kept her in good company for many years — books like A Little Princess, The Little House on the Prairie Series, and Matilda held a increasingly special place in her early life. By high school, Sarah had discovered the writings of Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, J.D. Salinger, and Leo Tolstoy, and shortly thereafter began the habit of journal writing. It was during this time that she began writing short essays, stories, and poetry.
She studied Liberal Arts at Virginia’s Tidewater Community College in 2008 and English Literature at Old Dominion University in 2010. While a full-time student, Sarah worked as a waitress and bartender in a number of local establishments. During this time, she continued writing in the quiet hours between late-night shifts, sharing bottles of pink moscato with a rotating door of roommates and exploring the world of staggering independence. Falling out of the academic habit soon thereafter, Sarah dropped out of O.D.U. in autumn of 2012 and, with the desire to hone the skill of writing in a practical sense, she joined a Norfolk writer’s group where much of her early web-published short and “flash” fiction originates.
In the summer of 2014, Sarah met her now-husband. In the winter of 2015 she became a follower of Jesus Christ. This simple, personal event instigated dramatic changes in all areas of her life, including how she perceived the worldviews of many of those around her. She has a unique insight into socio-cultural attitudes and beliefs of the postmodern period of the twenty-first century, faith in contemporary times, and human relationships, and she enjoys exploring these themes in non-fiction cultural analysis essays and short fiction.
Sarah’s literary influences include Flannery O’Connor, J.D. Salinger, Raymond Carver, and Lydia Davis. She resides in Chesapeake, Virginia with her husband and cat, Salinger, in the Tiny House that they built together.