Q&A with Sarina Dorie

Get to know your Wordcrafters instructors. We offered Sarina a slew of questions to choose from. Here’s what she chose to answer, as well as some of her own she decided we needed to know the answers to.

What are some of your hobbies?

I am an artist and belly dancer. I enjoy sharing the passion of art, writing, and dance with adults in classes I teach.

Sometimes I perform avant-garde belly dance with a steampunk style, or breakdancing thrown in, or with a fantasy/science fiction theme, and I have been known to paint myself green to dance as the opener for Trek Theatre’s productions.

I could say I enjoy sewing, cooking, and gardening but I don’t think I actually do. I just enjoy the end product.

What are some other things you’re passionate about?

I love steampunk, fairies, Captain Jack Sparrow, Star Trek, Mr. Darcy, and chocolate. I especially love gluten-free brownies.

What sparked you to become a writer? How did your literary journey begin?

I think the reason I became a writer was because I loved stories and telling stories, and I was always encouraged by my parents, friends, and teachers.

I won a couple contests in high school and college and continued to write. After years of writing stories and novels, I sold my first short story in 2010. I think I sold my first novel around 2013.

With every short story and novel I sold, it was like an addiction. I was hooked on that high and yearned to sell more.

What’s the earliest thing you remember writing?

It’s probably cliché to say I’ve been writing since I was six, but it is true. I have some of the picture books I made when I was in first grade.

The most memorable one is titled “Kasandra’s Weird Dream.” I was documenting the time my younger sister was chased by a giant spider, which turned out to be a weird dream. Then she realized she was covered in spider bites.

Years later when I found this book in a box in storage and was reading it, a spider crawled out of the book and fell out. I promptly screamed and dropped the book. It is a real-life horror story.

What is your favorite kind of chocolate?

I love all kinds of chocolate. However, due to allergies and sensitivities, dairy-free dark chocolate is safest. Particularly gluten-free chocolate.

I love to try all kinds of specialty dark chocolates. I especially love the Mia brand chocolates, particularly the ginger made with cashew milk, and Honey Mama’s chocolates.

I love Dr. Bronner’s MAGIC chocolate bar, but I can only find it at the Fred Meyer in Oregon City, which is super frustrating. If anyone knows where to find this chocolate locally, let me know!

Are there certain genres or forms of writing you excel at or are drawn to?

I love fairy tales. I always have.

My mom used to read to my sister and me from an old book. But I used to ask my mom why there weren’t any fairies in the fairy tales she would read. The only ones that did were Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella and I always felt a little cheated.

As a kid, I used to love unicorns, mermaids, and fairies. I still do. I think this is part of what drew me to fantasy—loving these stories and wanting to make them my own.

I primarily write fantasy and science fiction, but I like to combine that with other genres like humor, mystery, and romance—but sometimes I randomly write something different like horror or nonfiction.

For a while, I was writing in a historical fantasy world based on some of my cultural experiences in Japan, but then switched to an urban fantasy world with magical and mythological creatures like tooth fairies, muses, fairy godmothers, and bogeymen.

My steampunk series is humorous Victorian alternate history—in space. My novels in the Womby’s School for Wayward Witches world is humorous mystery. My short stories explore some of these worlds, but there are also a lot of stand-alones.

What are some books or authors that have significantly influenced your work?

As a teenager, I read a lot of Anne McCaffrey, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Kate Wilhelm. I also read every Star Trek universe novel I could get my hands on.

Among contemporary authors, I love Laini Taylor, J.K. Rowling, Carl Hiaasen, Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Peter David. I love Laini Taylor for her storytelling, humor, beautiful imagery and characters. I am hypnotized by J.K Rowling’s world. When I go back to read Harry Potter these days, I have realized I don’t actually love Harry. In the later books especially, I find him to be an annoying teenager, but I am still compelled to read. I love Carl Hiaasen’s humor. Humor is important to me in just about everything I read and I often include it in my own writing.

From the classics, I read and reread Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Alexandre Dumas, Charles Dickens. The romance aspects in my novels are often heavily influenced by Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. I am also fascinated by the unrequited love of Severus Snape and Lily Evans in the Harry Potter series. Readers sometimes tell me Felix Thatch in WITCHES GONE WICKED is Severus Snape while others say he is Mr. Darcy. He is definitely both with a little Heathcliff thrown in.

How do you describe your teaching style?

My teaching style is part hands-on, part lecture, part visual, and lots of exercises and practice. The environment is a mix of structure and being flexible and knowing when to deviate from plans to focus on what the class as a whole needs.

What careers have you had and how do they affect your writing?

Some of my past careers have been: barista, art museum lackey, copywriter and editor at a digital advertising agency, English teacher overseas, tutor, and ruler maker. By rulers, I mean measuring devices, not a creator of dictators and royal sovereigns.

Currently, I am a fashion designer, artist, writer, belly dance teacher, and public school art teacher.

When I have very bad classes as a teacher, my writing is therapy.

When I am an unemployed art teacher—it happens intermittently in my line of work—I have more time for writing. When I was a copywriter and editor it sapped all of my creativity and I produced little creative writing.

I often fit art, teaching, and feeling like an outsider into my stories. As a public school teacher, I am exposed to a lot of hormonal people full of conflict—and their children—and it gives me a lot of juicy material.

For years I have wanted to write a novel about being a teacher and sneak in all the horrible experiences I have that no one would believe. Finally I did it in 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.

How can folks learn more about you and your writing? 

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.

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