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April 28th, 1972: Natasha Friend is born in upstate New York, to an English professor father and a poet/actress mother, who, following the birth, writes a poem aptly entitled “Natasha,” which is published in the first issue of Ms. Magazine.
1974: Raised in a house without a television, young Tash discovers the entertainment value of books.
1978: Natasha begins dictating stories to her father, who types them up on his 1930’s Remington typewriter. Most involve rainbows, unicorns, and/or poor orphan girls discovering treasure.
1982: Spending most of her free time in the Hamilton Public Library, Tash finds her mecca: the Young Adult Section, and her hero: Judy Blume.
1984-1986: Despite both excellent fashion sense and athletic prowess, Natasha’s junior high years are fraught with one indignity and humiliation after another. (You know what I’m talking about Spanky Walsh.)
1987: Natasha’s family moves to Amherst, Massachusetts, where her parents divorce, a senior hockey player teaches her more than how to shoot a slap shot, and she documents every gory detail in a series of journals that she will later burn. (Regret! Regret!)
1990-1994: Tash attends Bates College, where she studies psychology, joins the rugby team, and spends a disproportionate amount of time in the football house, getting her heart broken. (At least she has the good sense to save every card, letter, and photo for posterity—and future primary source material.)
Summer 1994: Natasha works as a counselor at Camp Laurel and falls in love with a Citadel boy, which gives her the brilliant idea to apply to graduate schools only in South Carolina. They break up. A month later, Clemson University offers Tash a full scholarship for their English MA program—and a work-study job tutoring the football team.
1997: Natasha graduates from Clemson with a 4.0 and a creative-writing thesis entitled “Angels on Horseback and Other Tales from Camp Mattaqua.”
1998: Natasha moves to Boston, where she teaches English at Ecole Bilingue, and writes bad short stories on the side.
1999: Natasha makes eye contact with her blind date on the Green Line T, on her way to meet him. That night, she calls her mother to say, “I’ve met the man I’m going to marry.”
2001: Tash moves in with Mr. Wonderful, quits her teaching job, and starts writing a book.
2003: Son Jack is born. Three months later, Natasha receives a phone call from Milkweed Editions, saying that PERFECT has won the Milkweed Prize for Children’s Literature and will be published the following year.
2004: Tash and lil Jack hit the PERFECT tour, and wear a lot of pink.
2005: At a teen author panel in Menlo Park, NJ, Natasha meets author/editor extraordinaire David Levithan, who asks what she’s working on next. Natasha sends David the first 80 pages of LUSH, then signs a two-book deal with Scholastic, Inc.
2006: LUSH hits bookshelves. Son Ben is born and is thrown promptly into his first book club.
2007: Natasha moves to Connecticut, contracts Lyme disease, and launches BOUNCE at R.J. Julia Booksellers. In a Lyme-infused haze, she signs a contract with Viking Children’s Books and proceeds to write a 300-page sequel to PERFECT, LUSH, and BOUNCE without showing more than ten pages to her editor. The result, NIGHT SWIMMING, is a disaster. But Natasha has already spent the advance money. And she doesn’t want to revise the manuscript. So she starts another book.
2008: Thanks to boatloads of antibiotics and a plea from her sons that she “make another baby—a girl—so she can write Mommy’s books,” Natasha gets pregnant with baby #3.
2009: Natasha’s due date and book deadline are within days of each other. She e-mails the manuscript to Viking just as she’s going into labor, delivering a book and baby Emma Scarlett, on the same day.
2010: FOR KEEPS hits bookstores!