Adriana Stern Autorin

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About me

English Version

About me

I was born in 1960 in the Lower Rhine region of Germany, near the border with the Netherlands. I began to write at the age of 12. I am a body-oriented gestalt therapist and circus instructor, and I am active as a social worker with girls as well as working with children and young people of various cultural and religious backgrounds. I am also a member of a Jewish community and work there with children and young people. For example, I prepare them for bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah, which is a kind of religious coming-of-age ceremony. I also work with a circus project called Knallo Bonboni, with refugee children, and with a children's rights project. All this experience has a great influence on my writing.


Of course, you can't tell from a brief biological sketch like this how I turned into the person I am today. These lines don't explain what I have experienced, so they can't answer the question of why I write books, essays, songs and stories, and why there are things that matter very much to me. So for anybody who would like to know that stuff, I'm now going to put down some more personal details:


I was the fourth of five children. I spent the time from my first to my third birthday in hospital, because I couldn't sit down or walk. Afterwards I went back to my family. Growing up in a prosperous farming village was pretty difficult, not only because I wasn't as agile as the other children; the main reason was that we were excluded from everything that went on in the village. The other parents wouldn't allow their children to play with me and my brothers and sisters. I didn't understand why until much later. At the time it just made me sad and angry, and I resolved to learn to read as soon as possible. My big sister taught me when I was four years old, and from that moment on I submerged myself in the world of books - a world which is still very important for me. The adults could impose as many restrictions as they wanted; between the pages of the books and in my own imagination I was free! I simply read everything I could grab hold of, no matter what age the books were intended for. By the time I was eight I had read the entire works of Erich Kästner, Karl May and Enid Blyton, and later I devoured the books of Hesse, Borchert, Frisch, Zweig, Kafka and many other authors whose works were available in the local library. My library card became very worn and battered from so much use. We didn't have the money to buy books.


That time a new girl was put into my class at school, and I liked her straight away. Her name was Marie, she was a Roma, and she lived in a caravan that was part of a camp at the edge of the town. I liked her parents and the lives they led. I abandoned my books for a while and spent as much time as possible with my new friend. My mother announced that it was strictly forbidden for me to visit Marie, but that just made it really exciting for me. After six months Marie had to move on, because the villagers hated the Roma - who they called gypsies - and chased them away. I would have liked nothing better than to go with them, because Marie was my very best friend, and I felt much more comfortable with her and her parents than I did in my own home in the village.

Not long after that I had to go back into hospital. I had a number of operations, because I still couldn't walk as well as other children. In the hospital my adventures consisted of everything that the nurses didn't permit. That included wheelchair races, excursions during the night, exploring the cellars, escaping from the hospital premises and all sorts of tricks we played on the adults. I was confined to bed for long periods while I was in hospital, and I spent that time reading exciting books.

When I was finally released from hospital at the age of 11, four girls from the village and I started a girls' band that nobody was allowed to know about, because the other girls' parents still didn't want us to meet. Of course, that's what made it so exciting for all of us, and so we became good friends despite what the adults intended. I used to really enjoy rebelling against the adult world, and I proudly collected my secret successes. We would meet in unusual places which were absolutely out of bounds, places like old ruined buildings, abandoned factories or empty houses. We would set ourselves all sorts of tests of courage, most of which had to be performed at night, and we lived in a wild, fantastic adventure world our parents didn't have the slightest idea about - just like all the heroes in the countless books I had devoured ever since I had learnt to read.

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