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Robin Friedman : author and journalist

Aspiring to “27 Dresses”…

One of my favorite – and unusual – hobbies is wearing gowns. If there’s an occasion that warrants the wearing of a gown – a wedding, a book launch party, a prom story to cover, or New Year’s Eve – I will seek it and wear it.

Check out Robin's Gown Gallery.

I was born in Israel

— where I hugged the first of many cats. Before I got married, my name was Robin Ben-Joseph, which means “son of Joseph” in Hebrew, even though my father's name is Daniel and I'm his daughter. My mother's name is Sarah.

We came to the United States when I was five. We lived first in Brooklyn, then Staten Island, and finally, Marlboro, New Jersey, where I graduated from high school and learned to make Big Macs at the local McDonald's. I don't live in Marlboro anymore, but I do still live in New Jersey. And, believe it or not, I have never once been tempted to reveal the secret sauce recipe.

I've wanted to be a writer since I was little — I wrote tons of stories when I was younger about talking squirrels and girls with pigtails — and sold them to my guitar teacher for 50 cents. Unfortunately, when I stopped taking guitar lessons, this market dried up.

I still have all those stories, though, and for the right price, I'm willing to sell them again.

Writers write — for newspapers?

I didn't have “writing role models” when I was growing up, though, so I didn't know people who liked to write could become writers. I thought the only jobs available to people who liked to write were reporters on newspapers, so I became obsessed with journalism. In high school, I wrote constantly for the student newspaper, THE HITCHING POST, and at Rutgers University, THE DAILY TARGUM became my life. During the summers, I had internships at the FREEHOLD TRANSCRIPT, RED BANK REGISTER, and ASBURY PARK PRESS. But after I graduated from Rutgers, I'd overloaded and had enough of journalism. So I got a job as an editor instead.

I worked at Princeton University

I copy-edited a molecular biology journal, while earning a master's degree in education from Rutgers University. Though Princeton was a wonderful place to work, it quickly became obvious that molecular biology was not exactly what I had in mind.

So, like many misguided people, I went to law school! But, even though I got an A in Contracts, an A- in Legal Writing, and made the dean's list at Temple University School of Law in Philadelphia, I knew law wasn't for me either.

Redux, with a difference

So I went back to being an editor. This time, however, I worked in the children's books department at Walker and Company, a publishing house in New York City.

It was here that I finally found “writing role models.” I discovered that there were people out there who wrote children's book manuscripts and had them published — regular people like me!

Part of my job was to read a lot, and every time I read something I loved, I'd say to myself, “I should have written that!” After 100 times, I decided the only thing to do was — write!

I was still working full time, though, so I woke up an hour early every morning and wrote on a laptop computer on the kitchen table.

For the next two years, I wrote picture books that kept returning to my mailbox rejected. I decided to try something else instead — a novel. The problem? I never took a course or read any books about writing novels. Answer? Read a hundred novels.

Later that year, I took a job as an editor at Hyperion, a publishing company owned by the Walt Disney Company, and continued working on my novel every morning. When I was finally done, I sent it to five editors.

And the call finally came

— launching the career I'd started as a little girl. And this time, I didn't need guitar lessons!

Funny, though, as soon as my novel was accepted, I quit my day job to be a stay-at-home author, many a writer’s lifelong dream. But after six years of doing that — in which I also worked part-time as an advertising copywriter and freelance writer for THE STAR-LEDGER, NEW JERSEY MONTHLY, and DAILY RECORD — I decided the best thing for me was actually returning to the full-time rat race. Now I write for a little while every morning just like I did then.