Dear Bea, introduce yourself in 2 sentences.
(This doesn’t get easier!)Hi, I’m Bea, 25 years old/young and right know I enjoy the freedom of being a full-time writer (for Anna Blue as well as my own stories). When I’m not sitting at my desk writing you’d probably find me in my bed or the garden with a nice book, or playing with my friends (and I don’t mean playing Hide & Seek or Barbies, but everything from Pen&Paper and board games to awesome coop-games online) or alternatively in front of a TV or cinema screen (because TV-series and movies are just as great as books especially nowadays!).
How did you become the writer for the Anna Blue stories?
That was actually pretty crazy, surprising and absolutely unexpected for me. Quite some time ago I entered a writing contest just for the fun of it and Anne was part of the jury. Years later Anne contacted me out of the blue. I’ve never been more grateful for having such an uncommon name because Anne probably wouldn’t have found me online with a more ordinary one. Anyway, Anne made sure I’m the right Mara-Tabea and asked if I wanted to write the script for the Anna Blue comic. Of course I did! ;)
When did you start writing stories?I think I properly started writing when I was 14 (or at least I don’t remember anything from before that). The first thing I ever wrote was a Pirates of the Caribbean fanfiction (yes, yes, this is embarrassing I know!), because after watching Part 3 I couldn’t accept that my beloved Norrington was dead. That was also the first time I published something online (I had maybe three or four readers). I also wrote a weekly kinda satirical manual on how to write the perfect fanfiction in any genre (including how to create the perfect Mary-Sue and her perfect Gary-Stue).
After that I was obsessed and spent days and weeks writing. Somewhere my first “novel” – I finished when I was 15 – is collecting dust. I don’t think it even had much of a story. Only my little sister was allowed to read it and she was enthusiastic about it (she still is about everything I write, hehe).
What inspires you?
The better question would probably be: what doesn’t?
Nowadays we are flooded by incredible stories and wonderful characters – whether in books, movies, tv-series or even in games – you can’t really help but be inspired by that. The trick of course is to actually just be inspired by it instead of crudely copying something that is already there.
Besides that music is my greatest inspiration. It simply helps me to get in the right mood. When I want to write an epic battle scene the music by Ramin Djawadi or Two Steps from Hell is perfect, but for a dramatic scene it’s the Jane Eyre score by Dario Marianelli (that one I already needed for one or two scenes in the Anna Blue shorts and the comic) that does the trick and if I want to feel swanky and descend into the golden twenties I listen to Cole porter. I don’t think I could write without music.
How do you develop stories and what’s different when you’re working on an Anna Blue story?
That depends. If I’m writing a short story it’s possible that I just have an idea or had a crazy dream and simply write it down in one go.
When I’m planning a whole book it’s another story. Usually I have an idea and then I play around with in my head for months or even years; I create characters and have the story play before my inner eye like a movie until I’m happy with it. After that I write everything down and start plotting. Usually I start with character sheets, I basically make profiles for all the big characters with pictures, biographical data, character traits and their inner conflicts. When that’s done I try to divide the story into different acts and write down what is happening in each act (mostly so I don’t forget certain scenes that I really like, which has happened to me a lot). After I’ve finished the plot the only thing left to do is to actually write the story.
With the Anna Blue stories it’s different. The special thing about them is that I work very closely with Anne. Usually we brainstorm together to decide what the next story will be about (for example: we decided that the Christmas story should be a story about the guys doing the secret Santa thing and also that the story would have an episodic character). Afterwards I write down a rough plot which Anne and I discuss and finetune. When we’re both happy with it I can start writing the story.
In the beginning the biggest challenge for me was that the characters weren’t my own. I needed time to adjust to them and their different wants and needs, flaws and strengths. Now it’s different and they’re as familiar to me as any of the characters I created myself.
What is your personal hobbyhorse?
That probably sounds boring but it’s stories again. Stories in any shapes or form. Doesn’t matter if it‘s in the form of books, movies, tv-shows or games.
Even as a kid I created all those crazy worlds for my friends and me in which we’d spend whole summers even; and since my parents gave me my first Harry Potter book in first grade I could never have enough books.
And of course we’re living in a time in which the storytelling in movies and TV-Shows is brought to a whole new level. Whether it’s a 23-part film series like Marvel did with the MCU or a masterpiece like Game of Thrones.
I also know that a lot of people roll their eyes at me having a PS4 and gaming, but it’s actually my best friends fault who made me play this game with him years ago. It’s built on a very simple principle: the butterfly effect. It’s actually basically a movie but you’re the one making all the decisions and every decision changes the outcome of the story. I loved it and still do. I found out that there are many games like that and I can’t get enough of it. There’s a lot of great story telling in the gaming industry which I can’t praise enough.
There’s also a lot of great stories in boardgames especially those who are based on classic Pen & Papers.
I even wrote my bachelor thesis about transmedia storytelling.
What fascinates you about the Anna Blue Universe?
I think it’s that the characters are so multifaceted. Everyone can find himself in one them. If you’re shy and maybe a bit reserved you can see yourself in Anna; or if you know the feeling of not being good enough for your parents you might empathize with Zoe or even Henry.
I also like that the stories show that none of the characters are one-dimensional. Sophie isn’t just a cold-hearted mean girl, Lyds has a reason to be so tough, and maybe it’s not even Tám’s fault he’s being such an idiot sometimes (but I don’t want to spoil anything 😉).
What do you do when you get writer’s block?
I’m taking a long walk and put on some music. When I can let my mind wander around I mostly find something new there.
If that doesn’t help I try talking about it with someone. For the Anna stories it’s Anne I talk to. But for my own stuff it’s mostly my mom (who’s a writer herself) or my sister. The funny thing is that usually it’s enough to talk about it and then I have an idea myself and don’t even need input from an outsider.
What’s your favourite narrative style?
Funnily enough that’s a question that I had to ask myself not long ago.
I have an absolute favourite: the first-person narrator. I like to reveal my characters innermost thoughts and also think that the first person POV gives a story a more personal touch than the omniscient narrator – who also shows the inner life of all the characters – ever could.
Of course for one of the new Anna Blue stories I had to jump over my own shadow and write as an omniscient narrator, which was strange in the beginning but worked well for a story with so many different characters since the reader gets to know all the emotions and thoughts of everyone.
Do you have any tips for beginners?
Just do it! Starting is the hardest part. And maybe start with a small project. Write a short story and try finishing it. Sound easy but it isn’t. One of my biggest problem was (and still is) that I have so many ideas I could already start a new project before finishing the recent one.
If you want to publish your work online there are great communities and platforms (like Wattpad) where you can do that.
Otherwise I can only tell you: the right music makes all the difference, write down every idea immediately (carrying around a notebook wherever you go helps) and always keep your chin up. There will always be people who don’t like your stories. So what? You don’t like everything either. Tastes differ.
Famous last words?
“I dreamed that I was old.” – Maester Aemon, Game of Thrones