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Sarena Ulibarri

Lily Pad Interlude, flash fiction, Issue 27, June 1, 2014

Sarena Ulibarri earned her MFA from the University of Colorado, Boulder and will be attending Clarion UCSD in the summer of 2014. Her fiction has appeared in LightspeedThe Colored LensThe First LineBirkensnake and elsewhere. She is a first reader for Crossed Genres and occasionally judges for the NYC Midnight story challenges. Find more at

Get to know Sarena...

Birthday? The same as JK Rowling’s, exactly two decades later. 

When did you start writing? Shortly after I started reading.

When and what and where did you first get published? Very first publication was in 2005 with a poem in Scribendi, a regional magazine run out of my undergraduate alma mater, the University of New Mexico. I won a $250 prize for that poem and also got to attend a conference in Las Vegas. My first fiction publication was in 2011 with Zahir: A Journal of Speculative Fiction, which was a very nice online magazine that I wish was still publishing. First pro-level sale was to Lightspeed in 2013.

What themes do you like to write about? I’ve always loved mythology, and it often influences my writing. Another recently published story, “As Dust Rolls Toward the Mountains” in Kasma SF, pulls from the Cassandra myth. A realist story, “These Boots” published by the Center for the American West, flips the gender of Cinderella and places it in contemporary Wyoming. The novel I’m currently querying is science fiction but also includes minotaurs, hydras and Hindu deities. A recently written story investigates how mythic language could be used to make sense of electricity and technology in a post-apocalyptic world that has none.
For a while I was writing stories based on an idiom or cliché, taking these common sayings literally, and to their absurd extreme. Stories like “Son of a Gun” in Gone Lawn and “Working like a Dog” in Bartleby Snopes are examples of that theme.

What books and/or stories have most resonated with you as an author? Why? How do these stories and their characters find expression in your work?
If I had to pick a favorite short story, it might be “The Fog Horn” by Ray Bradbury, and if I had to pick a second, it might be “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler, and a third maybe “The Distance of the Moon” by Italo Calvino. All of these stories have the kind of depth, lyricism and clarity that I might occasionally stumble into, for a sentence or two, on a good day.

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