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: Janet Sumner Johnson, author of the contemporary MG novel, THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB&J SOCIETY (2016) and the forthcoming picture book, HELP WANTED, MUST LOVE BOOKS (March 2020), both from Capstone.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Building a sandcastle on the beach with my kids and husband.
What is your greatest fear? Regret. Regret over how I made someone feel.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? How quickly I lose my temper with my kids.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Meanness. Can’t we all treat each other with kindness?
Which living person do you most admire? My brother, Paul. He has overcome a lot to be where he is, and change like that is not easy. I just have all the respect for him.
What is your greatest extravagance? Travel. I love traveling.
What is your current state of mind? Reflective. (These question could have something to do with that . . . haha!)
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Diligence. Not that diligence isn’t important, but I think that procrastination totally has a place. In fact, there are times where procrastination has saved me, and times I wish I would have procrastinated more, because that would have saved me so much time.
On what occasion do you lie? When my children lose teeth.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Right??!” and “Just saying.”
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? Drawing abilities so I could illustrate the crazy picture book ideas in my head.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Choosing my husband as the person to marry. He encourages me to go for my dreams, he makes me a better person, and he loves me, flaws and all. Everyone needs love like that in their life.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? A seashell. Then I could enjoy the soothing lull of the ocean waves, and the beauty of the beach.
What is your most treasured possession? I always struggle with this question because I don’t consider people to be possessions, and I could do without the rest. The closest thing would be my computer (with all my writing on it – but don’t worry! It’s backed up on the cloud!).
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? The point where you feel you are incapable of being loved or forgiven by anyone.
What do you most value in your friends? Acceptance of me, flaws and all. So I guess that means their non-judgmental natures.
Who are your favorite writers? L.M. Montgomery, J.K. Rowling, Robin McKinley, Jane Austen, Jessica Day George, Shannon Hale, Alexandre Dumas, Dee Romito, Patricia Bailey, . . . oh, wait, was there a limit?
Who is your hero of fiction? Rebecca, the daughter of Isaac of York from Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Emily Dickinson. I can identify with the desire of hiding away from the world and just writing. It sounds amazing!
What is your motto? “Kindness is strength.”
JANET SUMNER JOHNSON lives in Northern Utah with her husband and three kids. She sings in the shower, attends dance parties in her kitchen, and ruthlessly beats her kids at card games. She is the author of the middle-grade novel, The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society (Capstone 2016), and the forthcoming picture book, Help Wanted, Must Love Books (Capstone, March 2020). Learn more about Janet on her website and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.