Interview with Omewenne, author of Amduat

Omewenne Biography:

Omewenne for Blog

Omewenne was adopted from care in Detroit, Michigan into a Catholic Military family and grew up on both coasts of the USA and Japan. Fleeing from her fanatical and controlling, abusive father, at eighteen in 1984 she landed in San Francisco where she shared a friend’s flat. Omewenne reinvented herself and became a kind of subcultural celebrity in the 1980’s and 1990’s on Haight street to start then onto the club scenes in various circles, then as an actress on stage and screen, playwright, singer composer, poet, and short story writer. Record deals and book deals evaded and failed her but she has been captured in photographs and in films including “Never Met Picasso”, “Stroke”, and a pixel portrait by George Kuchar called simply “Omewenne”. Having wrestled with mental illness since a child she became lost in the psychiatric realm. Marrying in 2001 to an Englishman she swapped countries for the Netherlands and began to research her new world. In Cornwall in her cottage in 2009 she had a massive breakdown and fled to Portland, Oregon where she stayed briefly and manged to maintain her poetry and research into ancient texts. It wasn’t until her return to Cornwall that short stories and music returned to her.

Synopsis of Amduat

AMDUAT is the ancient Egyptian word for “the Netherworld”. Here in this book of sixty short stories Omewenne re-addresses Fairy Tales, obscure histories, ancient texts. Tales such as “Little Snowdrops”, sees the tale of Snow White retold through the eyes of the Wicked Queen, here the Blood Countess herself – Erzebet Bathory. The Sleeping Beauty is now “The Descent of Briar Rose into the Underworld”, a kind of resizing of the Inanna/Ishtar tale. The Welsh legend of “The Cutty Black Sow” comes to life as a young child misses her mark on Halloween. Also there are modern stories, tales of madness, murder, horror and the supernatural. A trio of stories about flights from marriage to Portland Oregon where darkness awaits, in “The Oni” a child confused by her friends’ argument is visited by an ancient Japanese demon, in “Blood Loss” two teenagers discover a terrifying dimension through a disturbing technique, in “Live Prey” a woman’s madness at the loss of her cat and the estrangement of her daughter sends her into a wilderness. Omewenne has a page on Facebook where you can hear of new developments in her creativity.

Work Sample:

Little Ola was watching her Grandmother walk slowly away into the meadow which lay before The Great Forest; Grandmother who wore her long coarse pale gown, and the waving grain blowing in the cold North Wind. It was late in the day; the sky was darkening. Grandmother looked behind her at Ola so far away, Ola with tears in her eyes. Read the rest of The Red Bride here

Interview:

Q. When did you first start writing and what are some of the works you have been involved with in the past?

A. I must have started writing when I was four or five with short sentences and drawings, even then the subjects were dark. When I was fourteen I wrote a short story which was published in a national children’s magazine but it was at the time that my family were re-stationed in the Mojave Desert from the then small town in New Jersey. I never saw the publication or knew what the magazine was called to find a copy. The story was about Lizard monsters living under the bed that snatched children. In my adult life I have written both poetry and plays. Three chapbooks came out in the nineties :SLIPPED OUT UNDER THE DOOR, COLD EYE BLIND WINDOW, and NEKROSURREALIA which also had some of the short stories contained in the end of AMDUAT. The plays I wrote and had produced were VISITATIONS BY DEATH ( a kind of Danse Macabre set of stories), NICO…MY EMPTY PAGES (a biographical play about the troubled singer-songwriter Warhol Superstar), and GRIMM GUIGNOL (several Grimms’ Fairytales worked up for the Grand Guignol treatment).

Q. What inspired you to write Amduat?

A. I began writing AMDUAT after coming out of a long deep depression, after failing to connect with my Birth-mother (I am adopted). The depression had heavily lasted (I’m still living with depression) about four to five years and somewhere after my dearest cat’s death, suffering from agoraphobia writing came back to me. I began writing short stories based on my mental health and the many bits of research I had done into Fairy Tales and ancient history. The last time I had written short stories was in 1996 when NEKROSURREALIA was released and which is here again in AMDUAT re-edited and better than before. I was rewriting Fairy Tales based on many versions of each tale to their earliest mention that was known, also many ancient or obscure histories, the life of a Celtic Cornish Saint complete with sadistic giant. Mental illness with me is constant so many of my protagonists are like me or have been through what I have been through in the more modern stories. The supernatural, places in which I’ve lived from Japan to Portland, Oregon , have places in my stories as well.

~ by Sumiko Saulson on October 7, 2020.

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