Tama grew up in Kenya, East Africa, among Kikuyu and Somali storytellers.
She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and anthropology (Trent University) and a Master’s degree in theology (McMaster University).
In 1994 she was ordained with the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec then served as a pastor and storytelling preacher for 15 years first in Ontario, then in British Columbia.
Tama founded the Eastside Story Guild, a performing arts initiative committed to the telling of stories from the Jewish and Christian scriptures.
She currently divides her time between her writing and her work as the Minister of Children, Youth and Families at Canadian Memorial United Church on Vancouver’s westside.
She lives in New Westminster with her husband, Loren Balisky, and their two young adult children, Abigail and Oliver, where they can see a piece of the Fraser River through the concrete jungle if they stand on their tippy toes on their south-facing balcony.