Clark Chronicle Clark Magnet High School La Crescenta, CA
Issue Date: Thursday, May 02, 2013 Issue: Vol. 15, Issue 8 Last Update: Thursday, May 09, 2013


Clark alumni releases first self-published novel
- Lauren Tharp

(May 2, 2013) -- Marking her mark on students, Clark alumni Lauren Tharp released her first self-published novel, The Ballad of Allison and Bandit, on April 17. Told from the point of view of Bandit, a lonely and depressed teenage girl who is in the process of overcoming a recent death, the story depicts the lives of two misfits during their summer in 1999.

"I basically wrote a memoir," Tharp said. According to Tharp, protagonist Bandit was inspired by Tharp during her adolescence, as well as many of the areas mentioned in her book being based off of La Crescenta landmarks. "I wanted to make a better reality, so I gave this character a friend." Bandit seeks the companionship of onion-eating Allison, her peculiar neighbor who lacks a sense of smell.

The Ballad of Allison and Bandit was inspired by a dream Tharp once had in 2007, a picture which later became a scene in the middle of the novel. Tharp said she saw an image in which the two protagonists sat along the sidewalk with dark chalk. According to Tharp, upon seeing one with short black hair and dark makeup, she could not stop thinking about the scene, or the girl. "I thought about how in grief and beyond hope she looked,” Tharp said, “so I felt compelled to take her story and give her a happy ending." She had been writing the novel ever since.

Tharp graduated from Clark in 2003, and was a writer for the Clark Chronicle. Since then she has become a freelance writer, worked as a writer and publisher for theater and television productions, and developed her own writing company, LittleZotz. Tharp said that even as far back as the beginning of elementary school, she formed a passion for writing. In middle school, she had written a short play, to which she received positive feedback. "Everyone was like, 'Oh cool, that's pretty good'," said Tharp, "and my thought was, 'I bet I can do more'."

"The first time I truly felt the 'This is it. . . .This is what I want to do with my life' was in 8th grade," Tharp said. At that age, Tharp wrote a 109-paged science fiction, horror story. "That as technically my first novel,” Tharp said. “I just spent every free moment working on it." Throughout her years, she was inspired and driven by her parents to write. Both special effects artists for movies and television shows, they approved of Tharp's passion as she "came out as being a writer" as a teenager.

Tharp visited Clark on April 3 to talk to Publications students about freelance writing and her new book, which is now available as a paperback on Amazon and in select Barnes & Noble stores.

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