Q&A with Holly Lorka, Author of Handsome: Stories of an Awkward Girl Boy Human

by Heather Caliendo
holly lorka interview - book club chat
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Holly Lorka is the author of Handsome: Stories of an Awkward Girl Boy Human.

Holly Lorka is a retired standup comedian whose work has been included in several anthologies and podcasts, including Dan Savage’s Hot Mic, which won’t surprise readers, as a chapter reads like a bit fit for the stage. She’s since traded the mic for a career as an ICU nurse caring for transgender patients who are transitioning.

Here’s the synopsis for Handsome:

As a horny little kid, Holly Lorka had no idea why God had put her in the wrong body and made her want to kiss girls. She had questions: Was she a monster? Would she ever be able to grow sideburns? And most importantly, where was her penis?

The problem was, it was the 1970s, so there were no answers yet.

Here, Lorka tells the story―by turns hilarious and poignant―of her romp through the first fifty years of her life searching for sex, love, acceptance, and answers to her questions. With a sharp wit, endearing innocence, and indelible sense of optimism, she struggles through the awkward years (spoiler: that’s all of them) and discovers that what she thought were mistakes are actually powerful tools to launch her into a magical―and ridiculous―life.

Oh, and she discovers that she can buy a penis at the store, too.

Let’s get to know Holly in the following Q&A!

What are some of your favorite books? 

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Anonymous, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

When did you decide to write a memoir?

I never really decided. I found that stories about my life were all that I was interested in writing, and one day I looked at this pile of stories sitting on my desk and realized they could be a book. I’ve been a little nervous about how these non-chronological vignettes that hop around in subject matter would be received.

How do you decide what elements of your life to include in your book?

I put in what struck me as moments when I learned something about myself or my surroundings. These stories all feel like little map dots that got me from one place to another. 

What motivated you to share your story?

I feel like I have a gift for charming folks into reading about things that they normally wouldn’t. When people first started telling me that I helped them to understand what they couldn’t before, it seemed like a logical conclusion that I should give the queer/trans/awkward community more representation and an approachable voice. 

What do you hope are some of the key takeaways from the book?

That life is pretty ridiculous, that we’re all on the struggle bus coping with shame and fear. I want to show that if you can learn to love yourself despite or even because of what causes you shame, yours can be a magical life. 

What are you currently reading and what’s on your TBR (to be read) list?

Oh man, Priestdaddy is currently killing me and I’m reading it so slowly because I don’t ever want it to end. Vesper Flights is on my TBR list.

Click here to order Handsome on Amazon.

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