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: Jill Diamond, author of the LOU LOU AND PEA series (Farrar, Straus & Giroux).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Spending a stormy day (preferably, with thunder and lightning) inside, baking an elaborate cake, hanging out with my family, reading a good mystery, and eating lots of sour gummy candy.
What is your greatest fear? I have many, but I’m terrified of heights. I think it’s genetic – my mom was the same.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Excessive self-doubt and anxiety.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? I don’t like cheating. Tardiness also drives me bonkers. I’m a New Englander by birth and we’re on time, but in California (where I live now), people tend to be chronically late. With the exception of my husband, which may be why I married him.
Which living person do you most admire? My father. He’s brilliant, has oodles of integrity, and is hilarious.
What is your greatest extravagance? Vanilla coffee creamer in large quantities, and red lipstick.
What is your current state of mind? Jetlagged (I just returned from Thailand).
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Decency, but only of the personal-good-taste type; I believe in being a bit indecent. I value decency in the interpersonal sense.
On what occasion do you lie? To avoid hurting someone’s feelings.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I come from the “like” generation. So, I like, overuse like. I also use annoying throat-clearing words that lawyers love, like “notwithstanding.”
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? I’d love to be able to draw well and illustrate my own books.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? LOU LOU AND PEA, my son, and my shoe collection (sorry, that’s three).
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Maybe a well-cared-for dog. I’m really more of a cat person (I like that they’re gloomy and standoffish), but dogs always seem so ridiculously happy.
What is your most treasured possession? A stone I found on the beach in Machias, Maine, when I was seven.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Giving up and losing hope. I’m always happier if I am striving for something. Also, being forced to watch old sitcoms with a laugh track.
What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty and sharp wit.
Who are your favorite writers? Dorothy Parker, Lloyd Alexander, and Donna Tartt
Who is your hero of fiction? Alanna of Trebond (a heroine, actually).
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Yikes, I don’t know. Anyone a little wacky and a bit anxious, who is a mix of creative and analytical. Which, I suppose is a lot of people. <Um, Jill? I think you just described yourself. 🙂 –MR>
What is your motto? I don’t really have a motto since my mood changes dramatically from day to day. But I do love this quote from a Dorothy Parker poem, and I aspire to this attitude (at least to a certain extent):
“But now I know the things I know
And do the things I do,
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you.”
JILL DIAMOND has loved children’s literature for as long as she can remember, thanks to her school librarian mother and the long, cold winters in Maine. She is the author of Lou Lou and Pea and the Mural Mystery and Lou Lou and Pea and the Bicentennial Bonanza. When she’s not writing, Jill practices law, dreams about her next travels, eats soft-serve ice cream, and wears cowboy boots. Jill lives in San Francisco with her husband, son, and the ghost of their favorite cat. Find Jill via her website, Twitter, and Instagram.