High priestesses are few and far between, white ones in Africa even more so. When Diane Esguerra hears of a mysterious Austrian woman worshipping the Ifa river goddess Oshun in Nigeria, her curiosity is aroused.
It is the start of an extraordinary friendship that sustains Diane through the death of her son and leads to a quest to take part in Oshun rituals. Prevented by Boko Haram from returning to Nigeria, she finds herself at Ifa shrines in Florida amid vultures, snakes, goats’ heads, machetes, a hurricane and a cigar-smoking god. Her quest steps up a gear when Beyoncé channels Oshun at the Grammys and the goddess goes global.
Mystifying, harrowing and funny, The Oshun Diaries explores the lure of Africa, the life of a remarkable woman and the appeal of the goddess as a symbol of female empowerment.
– When and where do you prefer to write?
I’m at my most creative first thing in the morning – which is inconvenient as I’m something of an insomniac! I get more sluggish as the day progresses. I can write anywhere – providing the environment is a peaceful one.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
I have a dedicated A4 notebook for each writing project – and I map out the plot and ideas in pencil. When I really know what it is I’m trying to say I move on to my laptop.
– Is there a drink or some food that keeps you company while you write?
Much as I’d love a glass of wine or a box of chocs beside me I stick to coffee and grapes and keep the others as a reward for a good day’s work!
– What is your favourite book?
Memories, Dreams, Reflections by Carl J. Jung.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
I’ve written plays and scripts in the past and have just started a dystopian novel. I wouldn’t mind giving poetry a go at some point.
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
My last two books have been memoirs, so yes; they’re definitely based on people I know.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
If I remember to, but sometimes my ideas end up on till receipts and the backs of cinema tickets.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
I’m not into crime or horror – there’s enough of it around in the world today without having to read about it, too.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
The author David Mitchell – I think he’s the best contemporary novelist around and has a fabulous imagination.
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
I’d choose Egypt as I’d love to spend time exploring its ancient mysteries and sacred spaces.
Thank you, Diane Esguerra and Rachel’s Random Resources.
About the author
Diane Esguerra is an English writer and psychotherapist. For a number of years she worked as a performance artist in Britain, Europe and the United States, and she has written for theatre and television. She is the recipient of a Geneva-Europe Television Award and a Time Out Theatre Award. She is previously the author of Junkie Buddha, the uplifting story of her journey to Peru to scatter her late son’s ashes.
She lives in Surrey with her partner David.
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