Please explain what just happened.

Erika Rae: Which one–the weeping or the laughing?

Carissa Carter: The weeping might be me. I over-indulged on this new craving for kale that just won’t go away.


What is your earliest memory?

ER: Spiderman was creeping around all open-armed on our brown, plaid living room couches in the dark. Next, I found myself inexplicably stuffed in the kitchen pantry eating dried brown rice from a white bucket. I think it may have been a dream, but I’m not sure.

CC: I was sitting on the floor of my room in our new house stroking a 4×6” swatch of shag carpet from our old house.


If you weren’t a [ERIKA RAE: Writer; CARISSA CARTER: Designer], what other profession would you choose?

ER: An Irish musician. I would go from Irish pub to Irish pub and play my flute or fiddle and make people dance when they were finished munching on their boxties. Boxties are really heavy on the potatoes, so I’d be doing the people a service by making them dance off all of those carbs. People would applaud me for enabling them to be so joyfully healthy and would buy me free shots of Midleton whiskey while calling me “luv”. And then, for one moment – one brief moment – I would know what it felt like to be Slade Ham or one of The Whiskey Brothers. And then, I would go dance the whiskey off.

CC: An astronaut. I even have the blue, ‘inside the shuttle’ suit. Think weightless whiskey globules! You’re welcome to join me if you want a redo on your answer, Erika.


Describe a typical work day.

ER: I have kids, so my work day is generally divided into increments of fifteen minutes. It generally devolves around 1:30 when my 2-year old needs a nap and the 4 and 8-year-olds are in need of attention and/or food. By the time Mommy looks up from her computer somebody has frequently been duct taped to a ceiling.

CC: I left my corporate job to start my own company only a couple months back, so I’m still in that honeymoon phase of taking advantage of my freedom. I charge, full-throttle from about 8:30-11:30. Around that time I realize that I should take a shower because it will be embarrassing to have a wet head when I go out to lunch. Early afternoon is often a bust and I consider exercise, but I usually Hulu. Around 5:30 my productivity turns on once again and I go off and on for another few hours. My days are a mix of making things with my hands and staring at a screen. Lately I’ve been sketching something with clay every day. I need to keep up the balance for my own sanity. Oh, and every single day at 6:06pm I take a photo.


Is there a time you wish you’d lied?

ER: Yes. Growing up, I was not supposed to dance or watch movies. The church I was going to said it was a sin. When I was in junior high, though, I went to a slumber party where they showed the movie “Breakin’”. It was dancing and a movie…at the same time. We sort of got out of control that night and I even learned how to do the Wave – not too far off from how Kelly in the movie could do it, if I do say so myself. The next day, when Mom asked me what we did at the slumber party, I fessed up to all of it and got in trouble. I should have kept the Wave in my heart. With Jesus.

CC: No. I used this token in first grade. I stole a marshmallow Easter bunny from Medi-Mart because my mom never put candy in my lunch at school, and there are only so many carrots a girl can take. I got away with the theft and enjoyed every bite of that bunny from my second row desk the next day, aka the best day ever, at school.



What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself at age thirteen?

ER: The rapture will not happen in 1988. Relax.

CC: No, you should not cut one side of your hair short and leave the other side long.


If you could have only one album to get you through a breakup, what would it be?

ER: Indigo Girls: Shaming of the Sun.

CC: Pat Benatar: Crimes of Passion.


What are three websites—other than your email—that you check on a daily basis?

ER: Scree, TheNervousBreakdown, and monstertruckgames1.

CC: Scree, core77, clientsfromhell.


From what or whom do you derive your greatest inspiration?

ER: My Filipina great-aunt. She’s well into her 90s and still works the miniskirts and gold bangles. She is the granddaughter of some former viceroy in the Philippines. My great-uncle, a serviceman from a humble Kansas farming family, rescued her back in the middle of the 20th from a coup attempt. They fell in love and on the boat back to the States, she turned to him and asked, “So, my love, how many servants does your family have?” She married him anyway. Also, I derive a great deal of inspiration from Irene Zion and her life with Victor. I think my husband Scott may be a bit like him someday, so I am trying to watch and learn.

CC: My sister. She’s a designer as well, and my sounding board for absolutely everything. I trust her implicitly. We have about 18 words in our own language, and with these 18 words we can communicate anything to each other. This comes in handy often in awkward public situations.

Name three books that have impacted your life.

ER: The Bible, The Poisonwood Bible, and The Satanic Verses.

CC: Shogun, Out of Control, Annals of the Former World.


If you could relive one moment over and over again, what would it be?

ER: The time I dirty danced with Patrick Swayze at age 15. I was in London with Ronlyn and Kirstin—my sisters—and we got caught up in a mob rush. At the front of the screaming human tsunami, I crashed into the shore of his freshly waxed chest with only a police bobby’s arm to separate us. For 10 awkward minutes, I stared straight up into his cleft chin repeating the words, “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.” As an adult, however, I would like the opportunity to reinvent those 10 minutes.

CC: I was the only person in this small pool. The surface was soft-butter thick and still. I had goggles on, and everything underwater was crisp. I sunk myself underwater on my back, so that I was a few feet below the surface, but looking up. The light created these perfect rays that cut through the water, and I was gravity neutral.  I’ve searched for this sensation for years since.


How are you six degrees from Kevin Bacon?

ER: I would be 2 degrees from Kevin Bacon since my brother-in-law, Todd—who used to be an admissions counselor—showed him and his son around the University of Puget Sound once. But now, thanks to LinkedIn, I’m only one degree from Mr. Bacon. Boo-yah.

CC: I know Erika Rae, who is only one degree from Kev, so I’m only two degrees removed. Double boo-yah.


What makes you feel most guilty?

ER: I am a recovering Evangelical (or “Devangelical”). My life is guilt. But if pressed, I would have to say it was the time I called a boy out for being in the girl’s bathroom in the 7th grade. It turned out he was a she.

CC: People that spend their ‘lunch’ going for a jog. Stop ‘training’ and eat chips with the rest of us!


How do you incorporate the work of other artists into your own?

ER: Unconsciously. When I’m in the middle of writing a book, I really can’t be reading a book simultaneously or I start adopting the style of the author I’m reading. I blame this on being a Gemini. I am an impressionable chameleon. As I’m pretty much always in the middle of writing a book these days, the ladies in my book club barely tolerate my attendance.

CC:  In the form of a bounce. I love working with smart people. I toss, it bounces, he or she catches, smooshes, tosses, bounces, I smoosh, etc.


Please explain the motivation/inspiration behind SCREE.

ER: Scott (husband) and I quit working for “the man” more than a decade ago. It has not been easy trying to create something that’s ours, but it seems worth it somehow—even through the financial uncertainty and stress. When Carissa approached us with the idea for a magazine about the modern entrepreneur’s struggle, we were well into our own evil genius plans to do the same. It was trippy—like we were psychically riding the same delusion of grandeur. We all three decided right away that we didn’t want to just focus on the business-y ventures that usually get all the press, though. We wanted to catch artists, scientists, designers, writers, musicians, comedians, and engineers, alike—while they’re still on their climb. We want to learn from their struggles and be inspired by them.

CC: I’m amazed, continually, by the caliber of work and smart people that I know. These folks put out beautiful products, services, art, writing, science, etc., and I want to see more of it. When I make maps, the process is often as important as the journey, and with Scree I wanted to highlight these journeys.


What is the best advice you’ve ever given to someone else?

ER: Wipe from front to back.

CC: The minute you realize that adulthood is a sham you’ll feel a lot better.


List your favorite in the following categories:  Comedian, Musician, Author, Actor.


Comedian – Slade Ham
Musician – Amy Ray
Author – Barbara Kingsolver
Actor – Dietrich Bonheoffer


Comedian – Amy Poehler
Musician – Tom Waits
Author – John Kennedy Toole
Actor – Gwyneth. I think we’d be friends in real life.


If you had complete creative license and an unlimited budget, what would your next project be?

ER: I would pour the entire “unlimited budget” into the world’s food supply and distribute it to everyone who needs it until the end of time. Of course, I would have to then travel widely to study the consequences of a society with no more hunger and then write a humor memoir documenting the whole event. There might be a Broadway musical involved, as well (finger-to-nose). Also, a day or three at the beach.

CC: I would ask everyone in the world to hand-draw a map of where his or her drinking water comes from. Then, I’d get some of those programmer types to help me connect all these maps. We’d have this massive web of interconnected maps. It’s information connection by perception. I’m convinced this is the next interweb.


What do you want to know?

ER: Whether I make God smile or cry.

CC: Am I even close?


What would you like your last words to be?

ER: “I did it myyyyyyy waaaaay!”

CC: “Mas pan?”


Please explain what will happen.

ER: I’m feeling the urge to enlarge my tattoo.

CC: I’m going to get my inner stylist on and cut my husband’s hair.


ERIKA RAE is the author of Devangelical, an irresistibly funny  and irreverent book challenging the culture of the Evangelical church (forthcoming from Emergency Press, 2012). She is editor-in-chief at Scree Magazine and nonfiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown. Erika earned her MA in Literature and Linguistics from the University of Hong Kong and to this day can ask where the bathroom is in Cantonese, although it is likely that she will not understand the answer. In her dream world, she fancies herself a kung fu master cleverly disguised as a gentle mountain dweller, eagerly anticipating danger at the bottom of every latte. When she is not whipping one of her 3 children and denying them bread with their broth, she helps run an ISP with her husband from their home in the Colorado Rockies. You can friend @ErikaRae on Facebook or Twitter.

CARISSA CARTER is the creative director at Scree Magazine.  When she is not working on Scree experiences, she is applying her design genius to multiple other endeavors, including (but not limited to) her startup design company, Parallel Design Labs , the design and production of skate­boards (Gesture Boards), and the making of maps. One of her degrees is a Masters in Engineering—Product Design from Stanford University. She has been an Instructor at Williams College and Stanford University and has worked in design with both Google and IDEO. Carissa has recently returned from Hong Kong, where she worked with Herman Miller. She is a lover of awkwardness, map making, all board sports, kung fu, and teaching. Carissa currently lives in San Francisco and is pursuing projects in the crossover between science and design.

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TNB's ARTS & CULTURE section features essays, reviews, and interviews in the world of film, television, visual, comedy, and theater arts. Cynthia Hawkins serves as our Arts & Culture Editor.

6 responses to “21 Questions with Erika Rae and Carissa Carter of Scree Magazine

  1. Jorge says:

    ERae, did you really list The Satanic Verses that has impacted your life?!?!?!

    I am in love!! =D (Not that I wasn’t already!)

  2. Irene Zion says:

    ER, You say you have to be careful not to adopt the style of the author you are reading. Do you also take on the accents of people you are talking to? When you are reading out loud for an audience, do you read in your own voice or in some random accent? Do you call your kids by the dogs’ names?

  3. Advice from one who has worked from home for the past 12 years: never be afraid to go to lunch with wet hair. Otherwise, you ladies are spot-on.

  4. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Hey, I missed this somehow. And what’s crazier is that I just heard about the NC “protecting” marriage amendment, and posted The Indigo Girl’s “Shame on You” as the aptest response to that rubbish (also applies nicely to the Arizona anti-immigrant rubbish). And Of course here comes Erika calling out “Shaming of the Sun” (I too often prefer Amy Ray-penned songs to Sailer’s songs, but Em did write one of my favorite songs ever, “Galileo,” and also the excellent “Get Out the Map.”)

    Anyhow, brave, donne. Good luck with Scree, and thanks so much for inviting me into your virtual parlor.

  5. Slade Ham says:

    BIIIIIG smiles 🙂

    I mean, congrats on issue two and all that, too.

    But mainly smiles 🙂

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