Tammar Stein is the author of The Six-Day Hero, a historical novel for kids about the Six Day War. It has been named a Junior Library Guild Selection and a PJ Our Way Choice Book. She is the award-winning author of four young adult novels including Light Years, named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a Sydney Taylor Notable Book of Jewish Content, a Virginia Reader's Choice, and a Texas high school summer reading book.
Tammar graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in English Literature. She has published essays and reviews in various publications including The Washington Post, The Tampa Bay Times, The San Antonio Express News, and The Stars and Stripes. She has lived on three continents, in four countries and five states. She currently lives in Virginia with her family.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
WHO ARE YOU? Hey, thanks for asking! I'm an American novelist. I write for young adults and kids. I write the kind of stories that I enjoy reading: intense reads about love, identity and spirituality. I work really hard to make my stories the kind that stay with you long after you finish the book.
For those of you writing book reports: I majored in English Literature and minored in Astronomy at the University of Virginia. I knew that I couldn't write a good story until I learned what made a story great. I also learned that sometimes you need to look up.
HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE YOUR NAME, ANYWAY? Ooo, I'm glad you asked that! It is pronounced Ta-mar. It's not pronounced 'Tamer' (Tamer than what, I wonder when I'm called that.) It's not pronounced 'Tamara' because if it was, my parents would have put an 'a' at the end of my name. It's just Tammar.
HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A WRITER? When I was five I wanted to be a mermaid. By age nine I was slightly more realistic and wanted to be an astronaut--the first woman on Mars. I went through a brief marine biologist phase--ironic given my sea-sickness--before realizing that what I really wanted was to read for a living. I am addicted to books. I cannot read enough. But I didn't really see a way to make money reading books, so I decided the next best thing would be to write them. So, after a while, I did.
ME TOO! I WANT TO BE A WRITER. BUT...
HOW DO I BEGIN? First of all, congratulations! I'm so glad you're interested in writing. We can't have too many good books in this world and the only way to get them is have people just like you write them. So, thanks. Now, the how could not be easier. Find characters you love (or hate). Think about something interesting (or terrible) that happens to them. And then sit in front of your computer and find out what happens next.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE? It depends. Light Years took me five years to write. It took me that long to figure out how to make a good story. What keeps the pace tight, the plot riveting, how to create characters that people could care about. I revised it about 50 times. Literally. I read and re-wrote each page about 50 separate times. High Dive took almost three years. I wrote an entire draft then I threw it away and started over. Kindred and Spoils clocked along at two years. You're probably much cleverer than I am, and quicker to figure it all out. But generally, first novels take anywhere from 2-15 years to work out.
HOW DO I LEARN MORE? Hang around other writers! You learn about the craft, the discipline, the ins and outs of the business, and have other writers critique your work so that you get better and better at it. Writing is like anything else; it takes lots of practice before you're any good at it.