From bestselling author to filmmaker in Berlin | Generation 25 | DW | 20.09.2015
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Generation 25

From bestselling author to filmmaker in Berlin

Her first novel was a bestseller, although she wrote it when she was at primary school. But Rebecca wants to do more than just write books. Visit Rebecca's favorite place.

A mild late summer's day in Berlin. Tourists have their photo taken outside the entrance to the city's imposing Charlottenburg Palace and the sun pours down on a sea of flowers in the manicured gardens. Visitors can sit under large trees or on next to the pond.

Rebecca Martin likes it here. "It is definitely my favorite place in Berlin," she says, running her fingers through her long hair, and breathing in the fresh air.

She lives close to the palace, in the eponymous district of Charlottenburg. It is on the city's western edge, but also central, and some distance from the Kreuzberg neighborhood where she grew up. Equally far from the life that the young author describes in her books - a world filled with parties, clubs, sex, and young people whose lives stretch ahead of them, and who have so many opportunities that they sometimes can't see where they want to go.

Rebecca Martin, Copyright: DW/S. Wünsch

Rebecca enjoys being outside among nature

Rebecca isn't like that. She knows exactly what she wants, and that is to be a screenwriter. She loves films and writing. She likes good stories and enjoys inventing them herself.

The realities of growing up

Her books are narrated in the first person - whether a school girl on the cusp of graduating, who dives into Berlin's night life in search of love, a 19-year-old writer who falls into a black hole after the success of her first novel, or a young woman who questions her long-term relationship. Each book is a detailed and realistic reflection of the journey into adulthood.

Her first novel was a sensation. Written when she was still at high school, it got a lot of press attention - both good and bad. She wrote about sex, and the storm of publicity that followed suggested no teenager had ever had sex before. What the critics seemed to ignore was the fact that the book was about the life, thoughts, questions, and feelings of a 17-year-old girl searching for herself. Was it autobiographical? That is the question she is always asked.

To a degree perhaps, yes, but unlike her lead characters, she is shy and reserved and much less out there.

A luxury to study film

But Rebecca doesn't plan to spend her life at her desk. She is so fascinated by film that she is studying at the German Film and Television Academy in Berlin, with a special focus on screenwriting. She also has a place at the coveted National Film and Television School in England, and will soon be commuting between London and Berlin.

Rebecca Martin, Copyright: DW/S. Wünsch

Rebecca has her sights set on screenwriting

She loves what she's doing. "We do so many cool things. Whole films as well. They run in festivals - if we submit them. It's an incredible luxury to be able to study something like this. There are only eight of us in our script class, and the directors and camera people get budgets to make the films. We have so many opportunities."

And who knows, maybe there's a chance to go to Hollywood one day, she adds cautiously.

'Social media creeps me out'

She's not a big fan of the Internet. In fact she hasn't had a connection at home for two years, and says she likes it that way. But she does have a Facebook page.

"I try to stay relatively active on it, but I wish I was more up on how Facebook, Twitter and Instagram work. To be honest, I'm a bit lazy about it all, and I'm shy about telling people things about myself all the time, things I don't want them to know. And people's opinions when they're online are something else again. You have to be careful when making a political statement - one false word, and then… it creeps me out."

Rebecca hates spending hours on end on the Internet. She has a similar loathing for shopping. She likes to wear nice things, she says, but doesn't want to have to go looking for them. Her time is too precious for that. She would much rather be outside in places like the grounds of the Charlottenburg Palace.

What she likes even more is "real" nature, such as the sea. "The sea does me good; it is good for the skin and for the mind. The sea gives you a different perspective, and is so never-ending. I love the mountains, too, but they're different: There are frontiers. The sea, on the other hand, is free. It is completely different for the psyche to be by the sea."

Long tables with white cloths in green grass

Rebecca enjoys life. She loves food and likes it when a whole bunch of people get together at a large table to eat. Delicious, home-made food, good wine, preferably consumed with friends for hours on end, and even more preferably at long white-clothed tables beneath fruit trees.

"Italian or French, with cheese and baguette and wine, that is brilliant," says Rebecca.

Rebecca Martin, Copyright: DW/S. Wünsch

She enjoys the peace and quiet of being outdoors

She likes the Mediterranean approach to long, sociable meals around a table laden with food. "A slice of brown bread with a couple of slices of cucumber and a cold cut, and apple juice or chocolate milk to go with it - that's very German."

Amused by the apparent absurdity of the image, she laughs. And now that she's on the subject of food, there's no stopping her. "I spend by far and away the most money on food. And I have a lot of friends who do the same. The sad phases in my life are those in which I don't have enough money to eat."

But her favorite dish of all, she says, is porridge. "I am a total porridge eater. It's because of my Anglo-Saxon roots. My English grandparents' favorite recipe is porridge with butter, whisky, sugar and a little milk. It's so good. I take that as a point of orientation. It's the right approach to life."

'The Wall was where my parents lived'

Rebecca is the daughter of a British-Australian couple, who moved to West Berlin's artist and anarchist district of Kreuzberg in the 1980s. Her relatives live all over the world. In her early childhood, the issue of a divided Germany didn't affect her.

"The Wall was where my parents lived, but that was all." The country's recent history was sometimes touched upon at school, when her fellow students could still differentiate between those children who were born in the East and the West. But it wasn't a big deal for her.

Neither is October 3. It's just a day like any other, particularly during the semester break. "The way I live my life at the moment means there isn't much difference between week days and public holidays."

Rebecca Martin, Copyright: DW/S. Wünsch

A moment of reflection