The Proust Questionnaire, popularized by the French essayist and novelist Marcel Proust, is said to reveal a person’s true nature through a series of probing, soul-searching questions. In the hot seat today: Cory Leonardo, middle-grade author of THE SIMPLE ART OF FLYING (Aladdin/S&S) and its U.K. companion, CALL ME ALASTAIR (Scholastic).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? A walk in the woods with, depending on the season, a light snow, the smell of honeysuckle in the air, a summer sunset, or the crunch of leaves.
What is your greatest fear? Loss of a loved one. Regret.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? The need for approval.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Self-righteousness
Which living person do you most admire? All the unsung heroes who look out for the well-being of others, day in and day out, without ever expecting a pat on the back.
What is your greatest extravagance? Books, probably. Just. Can’t. Stop.
What is your current state of mind? Nervousness? I’m an awkward interviewee. <You’re in safe hands, Cory. Relax! 🙂 — M.R.>
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? I think the most underrated virtue is humility. So whatever could be considered the enemy of humility.
On what occasion do you lie? When the nurse asks how much you weigh I tend to shave off three pounds.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? When I did a search for the word “just” during edits, I was shocked. SHOCKED.
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to blast angsty music in an ice rink and skate your heart out.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Raising three thoughtful, kind children (not always toward each other, but we’re working on that).
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? The best version of myself, if I could.
What is your most treasured possession? My notebooks. It’s amazing to be reminded of where you’ve come from on the road to where you’re going.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Self-centeredness
What do you most value in your friends? How real they are. No drama. Only generous love, support, and a whole lot of laughs.
Who are your favorite writers? Top three: C.S. Lewis, Kate DiCamillo, Mary Oliver.
Who is your hero of fiction? Molly Weasley. What a woman.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Not exactly historical, but any woman trying to explore/navigate the interweaving nature of art and faith–Flannery O’Connor? Dorothy Sayers? And balancing those with motherhood? Madeleine L’Engle?
What is your motto? “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
CORY LEONARDO is the author of THE SIMPLE ART OF FLYING and its UK companion, CALL ME ALASTAIR (nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal). Watch for her forthcoming retelling of The Wizard of Oz starring a hedgehog (!) in Spring 2021. A born and bred upstate New Yorker, Cory currently lives in the Syracuse area with her husband, a collection of snow shovels, and her three plucky children. Learn more about Cory on her website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.