Uno Kudo Interview: Erin Parker

Uno Kudo Volume 2 — is a full color glossy art meets literary anthology that was released in November, 2013 on amazon and features countless writers and artists. There are over 20 wild and diverse short stories and poems each lovingly matches with artwork beamed in from another dimension of beauty.

For those not familiar with the project, here is a youtube video showcasing some of the art; and here is a link to the Uno Kudo website explaining how the project and art collective as a whole works to raise money for charities such as (PEN) International.

It can be purchased here.

I’d like to share with you some of the people behind my favorite stories and poems inside the collection. There will be a handful of interviews scattered throughout the upcoming weeks featured on this website. Hope you find these peeps as thoroughly entertaining and brilliant as I do, and seek them out and the art that they create.

  • 1st up:

Erin Parker was born two months to the day after the first episode of Star Trek premiered in 1966, and was raised in the Southern California suburb of La Mirada. She grew up in a house where The Beatles’ “Rubber Soul” and Joni Mitchell’s “Ladies of the Canyon” competed for play on the family stereo.  When she was 11, she won her first Creative Writing contest, and has been weaving words into stories ever since. She started out as an English major, fell in love with Art History, decided that choreographing lyrical Modern Dance was like tangible poetry writing, and ended up in Art School studying Design. The best job title she ever had was as a Disneyland Fantasyland Attractions Hostess, when she spent several years working in Fantasyland before making her career in the reality of the corporate retail environment. After designing stores, working in both marketing and merchandising new products, she currently holds a position as the lead buyer for a retail chain in Southern California.  Her first collection of short stories will be published in 2013.

I worked on Uno Kudo as an editor, and for me, Erin Parker’s short story “Dance Home” stood out significantly. It’s the story of a woman who is raped in southern California and finds a way to cope with her trauma by immersing herself in a dance studio. It is dark, mystical and raw, something I admire in literature. I’m looking forward to Erin’s book of short stories, and had a chance to talk to her. Dance Home has been nominated for a few literary awards and is even being considered as the subject for a short film (I’m excited).

What is “Dance Home” in Uno Kudo about? Not the plot, the deeper meaning of it?

Dance Home is a story about confronting fear. After a violent attack, the last thing you want to do is trust complete strangers, but in the right setting, with the right people, that trust can create powerful healing.

Is it semi-autobiographical?

Yes, it is autobiographical. The events in this story took place when I was 19 years old. There really is a place called the Dance Home in Santa Monica which I used to go to quite a bit. My experiences there were an integral part of healing my soul and restoring my trust in other people. I called the story Dance Home in honor of that studio, but also as part of my journey, because I really did use dance to build a new life after I had nearly lost mine.

When does this story take place? what is the window of time? What’s different about Santa Monica now compared to then? Have you changed much?

The first event in the story took place in 1986, the summer I was 19 years old.

When I was going to the Dance Home, it was a few years after that.. 1989 and 1990.  I compressed the events for the sake of the story.

I haven’t spent time in Santa Monica since then.

I have changed a great deal.  When the rape happened, it was like death.  I either lost or walked away from everything I knew and believed was true.  A real spiritual and existential crisis that lasted for years.  I had to start completely over.

Your story is very California. What are your thoughts about California compared with the rest of the country?

Is it? Most people I know do not dance, are not involved in the arts, and would never go to a dance studio to do Contact Improv… what is “Californian” about this story to you?

Bud: Well, I’ve done a lot of traveling by car through America. California in particular. Your story captures the feel of  Southern California to a T. I could feel it vividly. The Pacific Ocean looms over this story like a dark guardian.

Parker: California is truly a melting pot. The stereotypes about people from California drive me crazy. Everyone from everywhere lives here… that is what makes it a really special place. I can go 30 minutes in any direction from where I live and hear lots of different languages being spoken, eat food from all over the world, and experience a huge variety of cultures. I grew up thinking that was normal. What I have found as I have traveled around this country, is how special and unique the diversity in California is.

People idolize California. They are magnetically drawn there. It’s called the golden State for a reason, but what are the biggest misconceptions about living there?

People seem to think that Southern California is either made up of shallow, wealthy people or gang members.  Southern California is to the rest of the country as America is to the world.  Stereotypes simply are not 100% true.  There are lots of gray areas and lots of exceptions.

Are you from there? Where did you grow up?

I am a native Californian – I grew up in the city of La Mirada. La Mirada straddles the border of Los Angeles County and Orange County. It’s a quiet suburb, and was the perfect place to grow up in the 1970’s. Middle class working families, tract homes built in the mid-1950’s, where you played with all the kids on your street and knew all your neighbors.

Where are you located now? Tell me about your environment. What does it do for your art?

I have lived in Long Beach for the about 15 years. I am completely in love with this city. It’s a big city with small neighborhoods. There is a lot of art and music here. The architecture alone is phenomenal.

You are working  on a collection of short stories? Tell me about your project. What are you going to cover? Is there a theme?

The theme is transformation in the loosest sense.

Please describe your environment in which you write.

I like to write at home in complete silence.  I can’t have music on when I write, because it messes with the rhythm of the words.

What happens when your writing environment gets disturbed by noise?

When I am writing, it is important to me to be able to feel the rhythm of the story evolve as I write.  If I have music on, I get very distracted and have trouble with the flow.

You’re a Star Trek fan. What is the draw towards Star Trek, what appeals to you about it?

I have always been a fan of science fiction.  What I love about the genre is the fact that since it is set in such a different world, it can make the essence of the storytelling shine brighter if the writer handles it well.  Every series of Star Trek has been distinctly different, but one of the many consistencies is that the writers expect the audience to come to them informed.  In The Next Generation’s episode “Darmok”, Captain Picard tries to communicate with another species by recounting the Sumerian epic story of Gilgamesh.  I can’t think of any other genre that could have held this story line together so successfully, and had it been so moving.

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8 Replies to “Uno Kudo Interview: Erin Parker”

  1. I think it’s super interesting that Erin feels like California defies stereotype, yet I, like Bud, sensed its inherent energy when reading this story as well. It may defy stereotype, but perhaps that’s its stereotype: it is a blend of all. This was a great interview! Thanks for the intelligent, brave literature, Erin!

  2. I was born in California and I grew up there some. It was always very diverse. But I didn’t know any posh people.

    Great interview!

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