Author Lillian Clark spent most of her 20s working in downtown Laramie at Second Story Bookstore, and now she’s returning to celebrate the release of her first novel.

“Immoral Code” was published Feb. 19 by Knopf Books for Young Readers. A book launch is scheduled for 1-3 p.m. Saturday at Second Story Bookstore, 105 Ivinson Ave. The event is set to include a talk, reading and signing, Clark said.

Clark described “Immoral Code” as a young adult contemporary novel that follows five friends in their senior year of high school as they grapple with the ethics of a tough moral situation.

Bellamy has been accepted to MIT with the expectation that she’ll receive a need-based scholarship. But she loses the funding because of her estranged father’s wealth. Then her friend Nari comes up with a plan to skim small amounts of money off the transactions of the father’s venture capital company to pay for tuition.

“Bellamy could go (to MIT) except for this father, who has never been a part of her life,” Clark said. “They’re going to fix that, but the overall question is: Is it okay to do the wrong thing for the right reasons?”

Clark, who grew up in Lander, graduated from the University of Wyoming in 2009. During her senior year, she started working at Second Story and became a full-time employee upon graduation. She and her husband and son moved to the Teton Valley of Idaho in 2016.

“It’s probably my favorite place in the world,” she said. “I absolutely love it.”

She said she loved working with owner Karen Voight and the store’s customers, who shared her love of books.

“There’s something special about working with and selling books because it’s something that people consume and purchase because they want to feel joy, or they want to learn something, or they want to escape,” she said.

Clark said she misses downtown Laramie and the small-business community there.

“They support and care about each other, and you have a wonderful community in Laramie,” she said.

Voight said she’s thrilled about Clark’s success and excited to host the book launch in Laramie.

“We’re really proud of her,” she said.

Clark has an English degree from UW, with a minor in creative writing, and has long been working toward publishing a novel. She wrote a young adult novel several years ago and signed with an agent, but the book didn’t find a publisher, so she tried again.

This time, with “Immoral Code,” she settled on a tone that was fun, fast-paced and featuring an ensemble cast, but set in a realistic world.

“It’s much more about the friends than the heist itself, and how they love and support each other,” she said.

Clark signed a two-book deal with Knopf. She is at work on another young adult novel due out in the summer of 2020, which she described as similar in tone but with a science fiction element.

Clark said she loves working in the young adult realm because the stories portray a time of one’s life when major life changes loom. It’s a time of discovery, potential and change.

“When you’re a teenager, you’re discovering new things about yourself and the world — sometimes it’s great, sometimes disappointing, sometimes full of hope, sometimes it makes you angry,” she said.

She said adults can relate to young adult fiction because they were once young adults themselves, which opens the genre to readers of all ages.

“There’s something universally true about the different ways that we talk about this experience,” she said.

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