An Interview with Tamara Bach
A Born Storyteller

Tamara Bach
Photo: Goethe Institut - Anja Veldhues

Popular young adult author, Tamara Bach, was in the United States for a book tour to promote her latest novel, Vierzehn (Fourteen). She discussed with us her passion for writing.

Born in 1976 in Limburg an der Lahn, Tamara Bach moved to Berlin to study German and English literature. While studying she discovered her talent for writing and wrote for theatre and television. At seventeen she was invited to participate in the “Young Writers’ Meeting,” where her work was met with praise and won several awards. Her breakthrough novel, Marsmädchen (The Girl From Mars), was published in 2003 and won several awards. Currently she resides in Berlin. Recently, Tamara was in the United States for a book tour promoting her most recent novel, Vierzehn (Fourteen).

Tamara, what initially sparked your interest in writing and who were your mentors?

Perhaps people are simply born storytellers, or perhaps I am from a family of storytellers despite being the only one who actually writes. Certainly my family was always interested in stories – listening to them, telling them. I also had a good German teacher who was sometimes critical but also told me that I should apply to take part of the Young Authors’ Meeting. I applied for years before I finally won a place and was invited to Berlin (at that time I was still living in the countryside in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate). I met other writers there, and even more mentors – real authors like Miriam Pressler and Waltraud Lewin. The other kids there were also mentors, however; anyone who is willing to listen to what you have written and give you some constructive criticism or a pat on the back can help you in your writing.

Why did you decide to focus on young adult literature?

Because I was able to earn money that way.

What do enjoy most about writing?

When it is like it is like when I first started writing, before writing became my job and I had to earn money with it. When an idea takes hold of you, it is like being in love; there is no space for anything but the story, which simply has to come out – not because you are writing for an audience, the feature pages or a publisher, but simply because the story wants to be told.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Everywhere. I am amazed that the rest of you don’t see that there are stories everywhere out there. And of course inside.

What advice would you give to young authors starting out?

Don’t become a writer, but write. And don’t write to become famous or rich, but because you want to write, because you feel you must. And write. And read. And share with others, learn how to handle criticism, learn how to work on your texts, and then write and read, and then go out and take a look at the world. And ideally, learn a proper profession as well so that you can earn money.