The quote below my name at the top of this website appears across two stained glass windows at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, a house I often wandered while I lived a few blocks away. The significance and context of these phrases – which are quotes from two different Shakespeare plays and are also the only written words to be found inside the house – remain an enigma whose solution went to the grave with Sarah Pardee Winchester.

Unlike Mrs. Winchester, I am very much alive, and my sojourn in San Jose only lasted two years. My name is Tamara (rhymes with camera, three syllables), and my surname, Siuda, has a silent i. I am no rich hermitess plotting unending construction out of grief or a canny desire to keep my fortune from the unworthy. Instead, I live in a modest space in Portland, Oregon, with a polydactyl cat named Seamus and far too many books. You could call me a hermitess – aren’t we all in the midst of a pandemic? But my privation is less Mrs. Winchester and more in the mold of the Coptic martyrs I studied for the Ph.D. dissertation I completed in 2018.

Few things miss my interest if they have a story attached. I’m lucky: the world is filled with stories, and I’m out to read them all and write a few in the process.

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