Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Girlish is my first published book. I have written three other complete books—two novels and one memoir—that will likely never see the light of day. They were necessary for me to write, but I think beyond salvation. I’m not even brave enough to re-read them myself.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My book, “Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home,” details my upbringing with a lesbian mother and a father who has been married seven times. I always figured that if the world gave me such an abundance of material, I had an obligation to write about it.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I only write on my laptop, and only in Word. I have tried on occasion to write in other word processing programs, and I can’t seem to get into the flow. I also have to have my windows arranged a certain way—it bugs me if they are opened out of order. I will close everything and reopen them if they get jumbled.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
There are so many! I’ve always been an avid reader, and so many books have clung to me over the years and become part of how I view the world and writing. I read every Judy Blume I could get my hands on, but also read Tolkien’s The Hobbit at least once a year as a child. My brother and I traded books back and forth as children, so I feel as if that exposed me to many books I would never have picked on my own. As a writer, my favorite authors are Lidia Yuknavitch, Jeanette Winterson, Maggie Nelson, and Jenny Boully. I really love writers who experiment with form and aren’t restrained by anyone else’s idea of how books are supposed to be written.
What are you working on now?
I’m polishing up my second memoir, “Mama, Mama, Only Mama,” a funny recounting of my six years as a single mother complete with bad microwave recipes. I’m also in the first draft of a novel about gender, alternative sexuality, and power.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I have my own website, LaraLillibridge.com where I can link to all my various pieces under one roof. After a long time feeling uncomfortable on Twitter, I’ve finally made friends with it and it’s now my favorite social media platform. I am involved in a weekly blog with four other debut authors, TheDebutanteBall.com, and we all promote each other’s work.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Claim ownership of the title, “writer.” It doesn’t matter if you are published. If you write, you are a writer. Claiming the label makes it easier to defend your writing time and make it a priority, and until you do that, you won’t move forward with writing very quickly. Don’t allow anyone who doesn’t believe in your work to have space in your head. Hang out with other writers, and share work with each other. Read everything you can get your hands on that someone else recommends, even if it is outside your normal genre.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
I am currently taking Judy Blume’s Master Class online. I love this line from her introduction, “Don’t give up, and don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t write.” Judy Blume
What are you reading now?
I’m reading an Advanced Reader Copy of my friend Kaitlyn Sage Patterson’s young adult fantasy novel, “The Diminished,” which I love so much and can’t wait for it to come into the world. I don’t normally read fantasy nor young adult, but it’s so good I may have to change that. I’m also listening to “They Both Die at the End,” by Adam Silvera on Audible for a Goodreads book club I participate in.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I need to finish the two books I’m working on now and start shopping them. After that, I’d like to finish my weird little insect essay collection and maybe pick up the gay grandmas middle grade book I started eight years ago, if I can still find a draft of it on my hard drive.
What is your favorite book of all time?
The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch. Her story is heartbreaking yet uplifting, but the writing itself is just breathtakingly beautiful. It changed everything I thought I knew about writing.