Friday, February 1, 2019

Interview with the Author: Lara Lillibridge 

Lara Lillibridge is the author of two memoirs: MAMA, MAMA, ONLY MAMA: An Irreverent Guide for the Newly Single Parent--From Divorce and Dating to Cooking and Crafting, All While Raising the Kids and Maintaining Your Own Sanity (Sort of) Scheduled for release May 7, 2019 and Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home, Skyhorse, 2018.

She and Andrea Fekete co-edited the anthology, Feminine Rising: Voices of Power and Invisibility, out with Cynren Press April 30, 2019.


Q. Tell us about your books.

A. Girlish tells the story of my childhood. My mother is a lesbian and my father has been married seven times, so everyone always told me I should write a book someday.

It was a book I always felt I the world expected of me, but also the story was leaking into everything else I tried to write. It needed to be come into the world so I could let it go.

Girlish is about being a daughter. On the other hand, Mama, Mama, Only Mama is about being a mother. In many ways these two books together describe who I am and my journey to get where I am now.

Feminine Rising is my love child with my best friend. Working together for the years it took to bring this collection into the world changed me and our friendship for the better. I look at the final product with awe that I got to be a part of something so powerful. The poems and essays still give me goosebumps every time I read them.

Q. Have you ever met someone you idolized? What was it like?

A. I’ve gotten to meet a handful of people I idolized, but I think the best story is when I met Mary Karr at HippoCamp 2016. It was my very first writer’s conference.

I knew no one there. Sometimes I’m gregarious and chatty, and other times I’m completely overwhelmed and awkward. Sadly, this time fell into the second category.

I got into the elevator, and lo and behold, Mary Karr was in the same elevator! Alone! With me! And no one else! I did what any good aspiring writer would do--I looked at my feet and said nothing. She looked at her feet and said nothing.

But wait! Someone once said every memoir is a story of redemption! I got to ride alone in an elevator with Mary Karr a second time. This time, I fiddled with my lanyard and said nothing.

She jostled her papers and said nothing. The elevator doors opened, and we went our separate ways.

Q. What's your secret or not-so-secret superpower?

I have always been left-handed. In fact, my hand-preference was so strong that I could do basically nothing with my right hand.

When I had children, I always carried them with my right arm, so I could eat, answer the phone, etc. with my left hand.

After a few years of constantly carrying children who gradually increased in weight, my right arm became significantly stronger than my left, and so now I’m ambidextrous.

I can throw a ball equally well with both hands, can use a fork with both hands, and as for handwriting, I avoid it like the plague now that we have computers so I don’t count it for handedness any longer.

Q. What is one talent you wish you had?

I love to sing. Loudly. In places that don’t generally welcome singing, like the grocery store. I like to make up my own lyrics and belt them out at full volume.

 However, I have not yet learned how to find the notes on my own. I can sing just fine if I stand behind someone else who is singing loudly and on-key.

Left to my own devices I sing only the notes between the regular notes, but those notes need love too. And my dancing resembles my singing except done with twice the enthusiasm.

I wish I had grace and rhythm and whatever you call the opposite of being tone-deaf.

Q. If you could be any animal for a day, what would you choose?

A. I’d like to be a cat in a good family, but with thumbs so I could access all the treats I wanted without assistance.