Interview with Lauren Tharp
Clark alumna Lauren Tharp is a professional copywriter, young adult novelist and the owner of LittleZotz Writing. I interviewed her over email to get to know her and what she does.
December 2, 2014
Chelsea: When did you start writing?
Lauren: I’ve been writing pretty much since forever. My first “big” moment in writing was when I was given an Illustory Book Kit from a family friend when I was six. It’s basically a “toy” for children that allows them to create their own picture book, send it back to the company, and get it returned to them as a hard-cover “published” book. It was really cool! I shared it at Show-and-Tell and my classmates were really impressed.
Professionally, I guess I started my writing career in high school. That was when I first started sending off short stories, poems, and articles to get published in magazines. I was also started earning some money from my writing around that time as well. Plus I was the head writer for the Clark Chronicle – which ended up helping me land several reporting jobs after I graduated!
Chelsea: When did you realize that becoming a writer was your dream?
Lauren: I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but I resisted making it my career for a long time…
My parents are both artists so I had first-hand knowledge of exactly how insanely hard life as a freelancer can be. I did not want to follow in their footsteps! So I kept floating around from one crappy job to the next, simply based on the fact that the pay they were offering – whether it was retail or fast food – was “steady.”
But, in 2010, I found myself unemployed and I had to make a choice: Choose yet another crap job that I didn’t care about…or finally, finally give writing a chance. I chose the latter, and opened up my business, LittleZotz Writing, in August of that year. I’m so glad I did!
Chelsea: What’s your favorite topic/genre to write about?
Lauren: That’s a really difficult question to answer.
If you’re talking about fiction, then I generally like to write young or new adult fiction. I like to either write things that are more-or-less “real life” stories – often based on my own life, like my first novel, The Ballad of Allison and Bandit – that have a day-in-the-life feel to them.
But I also really enjoy writing stories with horror elements. Both of my parents worked in the horror industry and my significant other, Ramiro, is a horror comic book artist. Horror’s in my blood! [laughs]. And horror’s just so versatile – it’s the only genre that can be mixed with any other genre! You can have a horror drama, a horror comedy, a horror fantasy…
On the other hand, if you’re talking about non-fiction, then your question gets even trickier!
When it comes to non-fiction, pretty much any topic has the potential to be wonderful or boring – it just depends on what you’re allowed to do with it. If a client or an editor lets me have fun and allows me creative wiggle-room, then I usually have a great time no matter what I’m writing about; whether I’m covering morticians, used pet toys, voice acting, or farmer’s markets!
Chelsea: How hard was it to get yourself published?
Lauren: Well, if you go the self-publishing route then it’s incredibly easy! [laughs].
Well, if you go the self-publishing route then it’s incredibly easy!
— Lauren Tharp
All right. All right. I know that’s not what you’re asking about.
If you’re looking to get a novel published, you might have a hard time – mainly because it involves a ton of waiting around. It’s a lot of work. To be honest, self-publishing is a great way to go in this arena. One of the things book publishers look for is whether you have a “platform” – people already reading your books – that they can market to. And if you self-publish a few books on your own, you can assure them that you do, indeed, have readers. But that means you’ll have to do the bulk of the marketing on your own.
However, if you’re looking to get short stories, articles, or blog posts published, you’re going to have a much easier time! I mean: I started getting published when I was sixteen! You can too!
The main thing to remember when you’re trying to get published – whether you want to be featured in a magazine or a blog – is to follow the editor’s guidelines. I cannot stress that enough! As an Associate Editor at an online magazine myself, I can tell you straight up: Nothing gets writers rejected faster than not following the publication’s guidelines!
Chelsea: Do you ever get writer’s block?
Lauren: All the time! But I get over it pretty quickly. I actually wrote up a bunch of tips on how to get over writer’s block for you guys. Just hop on over to my “Secret Clarkie Clubhouse” on my business website at http://littlezotz.com/clark
I also have a lot of great tips on how to get your stories accepted by magazines and blogs. Plus you can download free copies of my books and look at pictures of my cat, Robert.