Sarina Dorie returns to Analog’s pages with urban legend “I, Bigfoot,” on sale now! In this Q&A Sarina discusses writing monsters, the inspiration for this and other stories & what she’s working on now!
Analog Editors: What is the story behind this piece?
Sarina Dorie: I have always wanted to write a story about sasquatches.
Since I was a kid, I have always been fascinated by the idea of the Loch Ness Monster, bigfoot, and other cryptids. I went to the sasquatch club at the high school where I used to teach to dig up some juicy urban legends, although I was disappointed by the lack of tips for catching a sasquatch or to increase one’s chances for a sighting. I think this was around the time that Monster Erotica was a hot genre, and there were all these bigfoot erotica novels being self-published that were doing well on Amazon. I was really thinking about taking a crack at it, but I wrote “I, Bigfoot” instead. Obviously, it isn’t racy at all. There is only a hint at a sasquatch romance in this, so I didn’t get very far. The problem is that I have a lot of ideas and never enough time. I probably will never write any bigfoot erotica, especially since it was a short-lived trend.
AE: How did the title for this piece come to you?
SD: Either I know a title before I start a story and it just naturally fits, or I have too many titles and I can’t decide because none of them are perfect.
If I remember correctly, the title for this story came to me before I even wrote the story. After I wrote it, I thought maybe the title “I, Bigfoot” wasn’t catchy enough or it was too derivative, so I tried other titles, but I went back to this one.
AE: Who or what are your greatest influences and inspirations?
SD: There are many authors who inspire me—but I have spoken about them in previous interviews. Another thing that influences me is reality. My brain runs on random sparks of inspiration fueled by phrases that people say which I think sound strange of you take those words out of context. Sometimes there are weird things that happen in life and I find horrible in reality, but with enough time, it becomes good story material. Many horrible teaching moments, broken bones, unpleasant dental experiences, tears of frustration I shed because of accidentally swearing in front of a class of teenagers—that all makes it into fiction. Not being able to figure out how to open a can with my mother’s new can opener—that made it into “I, Bigfoot.”
AE: How much or little do current events impact your writing?
SD: Current events tend to affect me either subliminally/subconsciously or I am very intentional about it. Sometimes I don’t realize I have written about something I am experiencing until much later—after I am all done with a story. Sometimes I consciously am using something I have been experiencing and I channel it into my writing. Being a fantasy and science fiction writer, I am often influenced by technology and social issues, and I work that in my writing because there is something I want to say.
But sometimes the current events and issues are very niche and part of my own personal bubble, and the world has no idea what is going on. For example, when I wrote “The Shocking Truth About Privatized Schools That Your Administrator Doesn’t Want You to Know,” published last year in Analog, I was working at a school that had added a class to its curriculum about the holocaust in Brazil because a sponsor paid for that class and the curriculum. It really got me thinking about what would happen if schools allowed Philip Morris to sponsor the curriculum for health class or religious groups to sponsor science class.
When I wrote “I, Bigfoot” there were a lot of situations going on in my life related to the idea of tradition and questioning the old ways of doing things versus starting new traditions that had worked it’s way into my writing subliminally, but it took a couple years before I recognized it.
AE: Are there any themes that you find yourself returning to throughout your writing?
SD: I often find myself writing first person stories about being a monster, outcast, alien, or some kind of creature. I tend to fall back on archetypes from mythology and folktales like the beauty and the beast idea—only I write about being the beast. I definitely did that in “I, Bigfoot.” He was an outcast, even among other secret outcasts. He felt a strong desire to be independent but also belong. I think we all feel like that at times.
Some of that probably stems from childhood and teenage experiences. The theme of belonging and being accepted by peers is a common one in young adult fiction. Sometimes I draw on those feelings of isolation, alienation, and longing from the years I lived in South Korea and Japan. There were a lot of things I liked about living overseas and learning about other cultures, but I was always aware I was different. It was the first time I was a minority and treated like an alien, which has influenced my life to this day.
Currently I am writing a series titled WOMBY’S SCHOOL FOR WAYWARD WITCHES, and several spinoff series. I explore the idea of being a misfit among other magical beings, whether it is the witch who can’t control her magic, the sasquatch who is told he has to wear clothing, or the ghoul who wants to eat dead bodies but knows that is taboo.
AE: What are you reading right now?
SD: Recently I listened to the audiobook of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and following that, Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey—both of which I loved. They combined some of my favorite elements: fantasy, witches, mystery, and romance. Earlier this year I was reading the sequel to Waypoint Kangaroo, Curtis C. Chen’s novel. It’s lots of fun, a quirky spy novel in space. Maybe his books would even be considered space thrillers. Right now I am listening to an audiobook of N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season. I have so many audiobooks on my MP3 player and books on my dresser to read, I don’t know how I will decide which one to start next.
AE: What careers have you had and how do they affect your writing?
When I was in high school and college, I wanted to be an archeologist. I loved ancient art, artifacts, and history. I took anthropology classes and went on a job shadow at a local organization near Portland, Oregon that uses forensic science to investigate and date ancient remains. I realized that I didn’t really want to dig things up and dust bones for hours, but I still have a lot of that anthropological knowledge that I apply to the exploration of aliens, bigfoot, and sci-fi/fantasy stories that I write. Obviously my respect for Jane Goodall came out in “I, Bigfoot.”
I could probably say every career I have had has made it into one story or another. The job that continues to make its way into my stories and novels is working as a public-school teacher. Everyday is full of conflict, whether it is bullies, teenage drama, budget cuts, administrators with unrealistic expectations, or parents that threaten to sue teachers for taking away a child’s cell phone. How could this career not provide juicy material? A lot of the situations that readers probably thought was fiction (but wasn’t) made its way into “The Shocking Truth About Privatized Schools That Your Administrator Doesn’t Want You to Know.”
Some of that material also sneaks into my series WOMBY’S SCHOOL FOR WAYWARD WITCHES. The premise: You think you know the world of magical boarding schools? Not from a teacher’s perspective at a school for at-risk youth.
It really is just like my life but with magic.
AE: Do you have any more sasquatch stories?
SD: I currently have a short story in a collection I am putting together tentatively called “Dragons, Unicorns, and Bigfoot.” I hope to release it around January 2021. In my WOMBY’S SCHOOL FOR WAYWARD WITCHES SERIES, one of the characters I introduce around book five in the series is a sasquatch named Pinky. I enjoyed all the humor that came through when writing about a furry creature that I decided to make sure Vega Bloodmire had a sassy sasquatch sidekick in the VEGA BLOODMIRE WICKED WITCH SERIES. I have had lots of fun exploring issues that a sasquatch might have like, to shave or not to shave? What would be considered diminutive for a sasquatch? Why do we have sasquatch sightings but scientists have never actually captured one?
Unlike “I, Bigfoot,” in the Womby’s world, sasquatches have magic. I have more sasquatch stories similar to “I, Bigfoot” germinating. They are similar since they are more anthropological and science fiction than fantasy because they don’t have magic and those stories feature scientists.
AE: What are you writing currently?
AD: I am currently working on a series called the VEGA BLOODMIRE WICKED WITCH SERIES. The premise: when the bodies pile up, the community needs someone with moral ambiguity to solve their problem and bring wrongdoers to justice. Part amateur sleuth, part vigilante—and all parts wicked—Vega Bloodmire is the witch to call.
I am working on novels in this series, but I am also working on short stories. Part of the reason I do this is because I like writing short stories, but also because short stories remind me how to write succinctly and create a plot that isn’t overly complicated. It gives me a chance to write some of my ideas without investing hundreds of hours into it. If I was allowed to, and time wasn’t a scarce commodity, I would write 120,000 word novels and 15,000 word short stories, but those are considered awkward wordcounts. I am always trying to practice writing shorter wordcounts and short stories help me do that.
AE: Do you have any new releases?
SD: My novel Wrath of the Tooth Fairy just released this year with Reuts Publishing. It is a fun fantasy novel with mystery and romance. I wrote a lot of short stories in this world as well.
AE: How can our readers follow you and your writing?
SD: The best way to stay in contact with me, hear about what I am writing, know when I have a new release, or books offered for free on Amazon is by signing up for my newsletter: www.sarinadorie/newsletter-signup
Episode 7: The Last Compact – Brian Rappatta – Analog Science Fiction & Fact
Sarina Dorie has sold over 170 short stories to markets like Analog, Daily Science Fiction, F & SF, and Orson Scott Card’s IGMS. Her stories and published novels have won humor contests and Romance Writer of America awards. She has about fifty books up on Amazon, including her bestselling series, Womby’s School for Wayward Witches.
A few of her favorite things include: gluten-free brownies (not necessarily glutton-free), Star Trek, steampunk aesthetics, fairies, Severus Snape, Captain Jack Sparrow, and Mr. Darcy.
By day, Sarina is a public-school art teacher, artist, belly dance performer and instructor, copy editor, fashion designer, event organizer and probably a few other things. By night, she writes. As you might imagine, this leaves little time for sleep.
You can find info about her short stories and novels on her website:
The best way to stay in contact with Sarina Dorie, hear about what she is writing, know when she has a new release, or books offered for free on Amazon is by signing up for her newsletter.