Ultimate YA is an organization that promotes young adult literature (YA lit) and reading. We feature one YA lit author per month. Each feature includes a short bio of the author, as well as fun facts and an interview. If you would like to be featured, please send an email inquiry to email@example.com.
In addition to our features, we post quotes and memes of the week that relate to books, writing, and/or reading on Tuesdays and Thursdays, respectively. We also post anything else that we find interesting regarding reading and writing.
Most of the writing I do is ghostwriting. I’ve written a ton of pieces, but no one will ever know it was me. With The Ballad of Allison and Bandit, I finally have something with my name on it. And it’s something I’m proud of.
I like having something with my name on it that I can share with family and friends. They know that I’m a writer and that I have a writing business, but it’s all been sort of “yeah yeah; sure sure” up until this point. [laughs]. Now I have a published book. Nothing says “real writer” like having a published book! It sort of proved that I am who I said I was all along.
The initial idea came from a dream I had back in 2007.
There’s a scene in the book where the two main characters are drawing on the sidewalk with very dark chalk… I dreamt that scene. And I heard the first line from the first page of the book: “I didn’t fall down a rabbit hole, get sucked up by a tornado, or tear a hole into another dimension…I just woke up one day and everything was different.”
1. I was born without my right hip, but Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles built me a new one.
2. My significant other (Ramiro) is a horror comic book artist. My parents are also artists in the horror industry—they did a lot of special effects for movies & TV shows back in the 80s & 90s.
3. Ramiro and I own a goofy black cat named Robert. He’s our baby boy.
4. I’m hypoglycemic.
5. I’m allergic to soy…which is in pretty much everything (even gum!).
6. As a teenager I was head writer for my high school’s newspaper and was featured
as “Short Story of the Month” 3 times in Teen magazine.
7. I earned a black belt in martial arts (shaolin/kempo/karate).
When Lauren Tharp isn’t running LittleZotz Writing, working with small business owners to help them earn more cash via her catchy writing, she’s lovingly typing up stories for young adults.When she’s not doing either of those things, she’s usually eating or talking to her cat.THE BALLAD OF ALLISON AND BANDIT is her debut novel.
Let’s begin this lovely month of May by welcoming our this month’s featured author: Lauren Tharp and her first YA novel The Ballad of Allison and Bandit!
In our Featured Author of May 2013, Lauren Tharp’s, novel The Ballad of Allison and Bandit, it’s Summer vacation. 1999. Fourteen-year-old Bandit finds herself alone and suffering in silence after a death in her family. Unable to cope with her grief—and forced to grow up quickly by neglectful parents—Bandit is in desperate need of a friend: Even if that friend is the neighborhood outcast, Allison Gale… a large-nosed girl with no sense of smell and a penchant for eating raw onions.
The Ballad of Allison and Bandit tackles grief, growing up, and gaining a purpose. It’s a darkly humorous drama about abandonment, isolation, mortality, friendship, and hope.
Check out the book on Amazon!
And while you’re online check out Lauren Tharp’s website, too!
Hey everyone! Elana K. Arnold has been kind enough to agree to host a book giveaway of her novel, SACRED!
It’s open to everyone and we will randomly select a name/email and email you if you have been chosen!
If you would like to be entered in this, message us in our fan-mail box here (because the askbox will not accept URLs) with your email or tweet/Direct Message us your email on Twitter to @UltimateYAThe deadline is midnight January 19th!
Good luck everyone! :) And a big thanks to Elana Arnold!
This month may be over and we’ve rung in the 2013 New Year, but if you have any more questions, Elana would be happy to have you contact her!
6. According to your fun-facts, you love animals. Have you always had a love for animals?
Yep. I’ve been an animal freak all my life.
7. What was the easiest/hardest part of writing SACRED?
For me, the hardest thing was coming to a place where I was really ready to commit to writing an entire novel. I had spent years telling myself that I was a short story writer…not because I prefer short stories to novels but because I was sure I didn’t have it in me to write something so big. It’s amazing how well I can talk myself out of things! The easiestparts, actually, were the sexytime scenes (I love to write these) and the ending.
8. Are there certain things that help you write? (Such as music or a certain
environment or place, etc.)
I wrote SACRED on an old, limping laptop that had no internet connection, no working battery, and a cord that had to be held just right or it would fall out and I’d lose anything I hadn’t saved. I wrote SACRED in a rented house that was cold and drafty and maybe haunted. I wrote SACRED at a time of transition and scarcity, and what helped me to write was the compelling knowledge that it was time for me to finally finish a book. And I had a vision for the final scene that I couldn’t wait to get to. I wrote to get to that scene.
9. What advice do you have for our aspiring writers?
Be gentle to yourself. There is time.
10. Do you have any upcoming novels that you can tell us about?
I am proud and humbled that I do have two more books in the pipeline. In June, Random House/Delacorte will be publishing BURNING. Here’s the synopsis:
Ben: Having just graduated from high school, Ben is set to leave Gypsum, Nevada. It’s good timing since the gypsum mine that is the lifeblood of the area is closing, shutting the whole town down with it. Ben is lucky: he’s headed to San Diego, where he’s got a track scholarship at the University of California. But his best friends, Pete and Hog Boy, don’t have college to look forward to, so to make them happy, Ben goes with them to check out the hot chick parked on the side of Highway 447.
Lala: She and her Gypsy family earn money by telling fortunes. Some customers choose Tarot cards; others have their palms read. The thousands of people attending the nearby Burning Man festival spend lots of cash—especially as Lala gives uncanny readings. But lately Lala’s been questioning whether there might be more to life than her upcoming arranged marriage. And the day she reads Ben’s cards is the day that everything changes for her… and for him.
And next November, SACRED’s sequel SPLENDOR will be released. I think SACRED
holds its weight all alone, but SPLENDOR enriches the story, deepens the relationships, and challenges the characters in ways they wouldn’t have been ready for in the pages of SACRED.
1. How did you come upon the idea for SACRED?
It was a strange time. I had recently moved far away, and then back home, and just as I got home, my good friend Amy was packing up to move to Colorado. Everything, it seemed, was in flux. And Amy looked at me with her Amy-fire in her eyes and said, “You should write a book about a superhero.” Almost instantly I had a vision—of a girl racing her horse on a trail, and of a strange, green-eyed boy waiting for her. That was enough. I had to know more.
2. What character did you find the most interesting to write in SACRED? And
Lily was the most fun character for me. Her fabulousness is nearly boundless, and she is self-possessed in a way both Scarlett and I admire tremendously. But my very favorite scenes were Scarlett’s most introspective moments—when she’s alone in her room, or when she loses herself in Will’s kiss.
3. To readers who have yet to dive into this fabulous book, how would you describe the novel as well as the relationship between Scarlett and Will?
I think SACRED fuses sensual romance and a search for meaning and self. Scarlett is lost when the novel begins—the first chapter title is The End—and the story is about her journey to finding her own strength. It’s a love story, too, but the romance (though hot) isn’t, I think, the central core of the novel. Scarlett is the core of it, of her own life.
As for her relationship with Will… well, he is one of the sexiest guys I know. In some unconventional ways that I think really resonate with readers.
4. What are some of your favorite novels/authors?
Phillip Pullman (HIS DARK MATERIALS) is a constant inspiration for me. I love John
Irving, the great bigness of his novels and all the dark corners they explore. And Cheryl Strayed, author of TORCH, TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS, and her beautiful memoir WILD… she rocks my world.
5. When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I always knew I wanted to be a writer. It just took me a really long time to understand that I am a writer.
1.) I use heavy whipping cream in my coffee.
2.) I share my home with a bird who is single-minded in his determination to eat all of my books.
3.) I have this really bad habit of making impulsive hair decisions that take years to grow out.
4.) I have absolutely NO innate sense of direction.
5.) When I had my tonsils removed, the doctor informed me that I had THREE of them.
6.) When I walk into Anthropologie, I get lightheaded.
7.) I’ve got kind of a thing about adopting animals. It’s starting to be a problem.
Elana K. Arnold completed her M.A. in Creative Writing/Fiction at the University of California, Davis. She grew up in Southern California, where she was lucky enough to have her own horse and a family who let her read as many books as she wanted. She lives in Long Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. SACRED is her debut novel.
In Elana K. Arnold (Featured Author of December 2012)’s SACRED, Scarlett Wenderoth has led a fairly isolated life. After her brother dies, her isolation deepens as she withdraws into herself, shutting out her friends and boyfriend. Her parents, shattered by their own sorrow, fail to notice Scarlett’s pain and sudden alarming thinness. Scarlett finds pleasure only on her horse, escaping to the heart of the island on long, solitary rides. One day, as she races around a bend, Scarlett is startled by a boy who raises his hand in warning and says one word: “Stop.”
The boy—intense, beautiful—is Will Cohen, a newcomer to the island. For reasons he can’t or won’t explain, he’s drawn to Scarlett and feels compelled to keep her safe. To keep her from wasting away. His meddling irritates Scarlett, though she can’t deny her attraction to him. As their relationship blossoms into love, Scarlett’s body slowly awakens at Will’s touch. But just when her grief begins to ebb, she makes a startling discovery about Will, a discovery he’s been grappling with himself. A discovery that threatens to force them apart. And if it does, Scarlett fears she will unravel all over again.
How to get a copy:
1) In 8th grade, I wanted to take Honor’s English because they acted out scenes from Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities (complete with plywood guillotine). But Mrs. Horton didn’t think I could handle it. She told my parents that I seemed “disorganized” in class (I must’ve looked like a walking disaster…papers spilling everywhere, not to mention, my crablike handwriting). Eventually, the teacher caved in…and that year, I played the hooded executioner.
2) If I asked my mom a question (“Do poison apple really exist?”) she made me lug out the encyclopedias and look up the answer. I loved reading those ancient encyclopedias, which were bootleg copies from Vietnam with photocopied pages. The smeary pictures of the moon and planets reminded me of amoebas in a microscope.
3) When I buy a book, I always sniff the pages. Nothing like the fragrance of glue and paper, eau du ink! I never crack a book’s spine. As a kid, I used to seal them with Scotch tape (talk about geeky). One time, my biology teacher caught me reading a Dragonlance paperback under my desk. He snatched it away, marched to the front of the classroom and opened the book so wide, the spine snapped like a living thing.
4) Believe it or not, I’m a bad speller. My grammar isn’t perfect either. Or is it neither?
5) I hated coloring books. But I loved making my own epic sagas with notebook paper and magic markered illustrations of lobsters who lived in tree houses.
6) I used to stay up late on school nights, sneaking books like the Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh under the covers with one of those heavy-duty Color Change flashlights.
7) My dad read to me every night after dinner. I’d sit on his lap, watching him turn pages, his scratchy jaw bobbing above my head. By age 3, I was reading on my own. My parents assumed that I had memorized all my favorites. As a test, they handed me a newspaper. After I read the
headlines out loud, they hid the Miami Herald from me. The Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel were the first books I remember reading, along with Leo Lionni’s classic, Frederick (who gathered sun rays for cold winter days). Looking back, they seem wise and philosophical. I still have them on my shelf.