Tama grew up in Kenya, the daughter of missionaries. The Kikuyu and Somali peoples, among whom she lived, were her first teachers in the art of oral storytelling.
Tama holds degrees in English literature, anthropology, and theology.
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 a theologian and pastor to children 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. On a clear day if she looks between the espaliers on her south-facing balcony she can catch a glimpse of the Fraser River that cuts her town in two.