When it comes down to it, my passion ultimately comes back to anthropology. No matter what discipline I’m studying or working with, it’s all driven by my love of this holistic discipline. My writing tends to draw a lot from it and even when I’m editing documents for the government I use a certain about of my anthropological expertise to get at what the writer was trying to say. The basis of anthropology, understanding how people interact with each other within cultures, the imprint of the cultures, and the biological aspect of what makes a person who they are (physically and mentally), is used in my everyday life.
As part of my Geospatial Information Science (GIS) Master’s Program I get to explore more about my anthropological background through my projects. For my current class, Spatial Statistics, my final is titled: Spatial Patterns of Bigfoot Sighting in Pennsylvania. In this project I’m creating a map of PA that shows where all the sightings are. Then I will run various statistical analyses using ArcGIS and CrimeStat software to determine distribution and/or clustering of these sightings. With this analysis I can then determine if these sightings show up more in populated or less populated areas, what kind of land they show up on (woods, farmland, suburbs, or urban), and if they are more prevalent during any particular time of the year. Here’s a little sneak peek at the introduction to my paper:
Bigfoot is a creature that has been sighted for over 92 years, yet has eluded cryptozoologists for most of that time. Evidence such as footprints, supposed droppings, and sighting have been found, but nothing to definitively prove this creature’s existence. This evidence has been wide spread and collected from the northeast, to the northwest, and up into Canada. Perhaps the most famous of these sighting it the 1967 Patterson film which depicts what appears to be a large ape-like creature walking through the woods. This film has been bombarded by scientists and videographers alike as either a hoax or definitive evidence that Bigfoot does in fact exist.
The fact of the matter is though, if there are all these sightings, why is it that we still can’t prove the existence? To explore this more the use of geospatial and statistical analysis must be utilized. We can use different GIS tools to determine if the sightings are evenly distributed, if they are prominent in highly populated or not as populated areas, if they are specific to any particular season, or if they are specific to any particular kind of land (i.e. forest, farm, urban, etc). To determine this, the study area that will be utilized for this project is the state of Pennsylvania. The reason this state will be used is because it has a great number of sightings as well as a variety of different types of land to study.
In addition to using my anthropological background for my Grad School projects, it crops up in my newest writing project. Currently I’m working on the sequel to Summer’s Hollow (SH). The working title is Return to Summer’s Hollow (RtSH) but I’m still playing around with it. RtSH takes place 13 years after the first one left off. Rylie is now grown up, freshly finished with her Doctorate Degree in Archaeology, starting a new job as a Professor of Marine Archaeology at the University of Maine, and she is engaged. All in all she is living the dream that she always wanted. Of course though, I write horror and following Joss Whedon’s lead, none of my characters remain happy for long.
Upon returning home for the long weekend, Rylie finds out that the Pascal House has been torn down to make way for a new dairy farm. This of course stirs up the Bloody Friday legend again and the town is thrown back into the mayhem it experienced 13 years before. This time around though, there is a new twist. Throughout this novel you’ll see more archaeology and anthropology than the first book. Of course this is all woven into the thrills, chills, dust, blood, and bones that worked so well in SH. I have to say as much as I’m in love with my first novel, I believe RtSH will be ten times better.
Image is courtesy of the Patterson Film shot by Roger Patterson on October 20, 1967
Samantha (Sam) Curtin is a Geospatial Information Science Graduate Student at University of Maryland and a Penn State Anthropology Alum. She has a passion for horror, dark fantasy, anthropology, technology, and religion. By day, Sam is a technical editor for the federal government. Her first books "Dark Cell," "Deal with the Devil," and "Summer's Hollow" are available on Amazon.com. All are published through her publishing company “Behind the Curtin Publications.”