Natalie became a book lover early in life, listening to picture books read aloud on her mother's lap each night, then later reading on her own by flashlight under the covers with Nancy Drew books. Natalie's first attempt at writing a novel came at age 9, when she wrote exactly one fan-fiction chapter of a Nancy Drew adventure where Nancy wakes up to a helicopter landing in her front yard and a mysterious, shifty man emerges from the cockpit. At this point, Natalie developed writer's block and stuck to writing short stories for her 4th grade teacher and first editor, Mrs. Smith. Once, Natalie wrote a short story about a substitute teacher who came to the class, and all the students resorted to hijinks and mayhem to chase the substitute away---all students, that is, except for Natalie and her best friend (the moral heroes of the story). When Mrs. Smith read the story, she said, "Natalie, fiction has to feel like the truth." That was probably the best lesson Natalie learned that year.
The steps along Natalie's path to published writer have been many; teacher, traveler, wife and mother. Some highlights include:
* Natalie has been an educator for over 20 years in the U.S., Italy, and Japan. She has taught Kindergarten,1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grades as a classroom teacher and worked with new learners of English in grades 1 to 6 as an ESOL specialist. She was a school librarian for six years and is currently an elementary school assistant principal in Fairfax County, Virginia.
* Natalie has also been a freelance magazine writer for publications including Scholastic's Teacher magazine,
Parents, Parenting, American Baby, and Writer's Digest magazines and has created over 50 curriculum guides for children's books.
* She has lived overseas---on Bitburg Air Force Base in Germany as a child, and in Yokohama, Japan and Trieste, Italy as an adult. She's also been lucky enough to travel from the glaciers of Juneau, Alaska to the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the temples of Kyoto, Japan. She's ridden at breakneck speed in a taxi at sundown on the last day of Ramadan in Cairo, walked along the Great Wall of China with her husband on his birthday, and argued with an Indonesian policeman who stopped her for running a green light (yes, a green light) in Ubud, Bali. She remains an incurable traveler.
Natalie's interviews and guest posts in and around the Kid Lit Blogosphere: