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 (i.e., nosy) questions. In the hot seat today: Katy Upperman, author of the YA contemporary novel, KISSING MAX HOLDEN (Macmillan/Swoon Reads, August 2017).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Toes in the sand, book in my hand, sun on my shoulders, and my family splashing in nearby waves.
What is your greatest fear? Losing the people I love. Also, heights. The thought of bungee jumping… No freaking way.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Ugh, I’m such a worrier. Even when life’s feeling unimaginably perfect, my anxious brain can conjure something ridiculous to stress about. Sometimes I forget to appreciate the good because I’m so consumed by the potential bad.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Self-centeredness.
Which living person do you most admire? My husband. He’s incredibly thoughtful and a very hard worker. He’s always, always, always trying to be better and do better. He’s also super funny!
What is your greatest extravagance? Books. I don’t buy expensive shoes or glamorous handbags or high-end makeup because I’d much rather hoard words. If I had endless funds, I’d create one of those beautiful, Pinterest-worthy libraries.
What is your current state of mind? Sleepy (because of children and animals), and worried (shocking)—but mostly content.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Temperance, probably. Sometimes writers just need to overindulge. 😉
On what occasion do you lie? I try to live honestly, but if a white lie spares someone’s feelings, I’ll do it.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Like.” And a few choice four-letter words.
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? So many! I wish I could draw, and I wish I could sing. I wish I had a gift for learning foreign languages, because I think it’d be so cool to be multilingual.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My daughter. She’s just nine, but I feel like my husband and I are doing a pretty okay job of helping her become a lovely and loving person. She makes me really proud.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? My cat. She sleeps twenty-plus hours a day and receives treats on demand.
What is your most treasured possession? That’s so hard… I think if my house caught fire and I could save one thing, it’d be our collection of family photographs. Or maybe my computer because, you know, there are a couple of unfinished manuscripts waiting for The End on its hard drive.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Loss of a loved one. I just can’t imagine anything worse. A close second would probably be defeat—wanting something so bad, and failing time and again. (Can you tell I’m a writer who’s faced a lot of rejection? I’ve learned, though, that experiencing moments of defeat can often lead to healthy perspective, so it’s not all bad.)
What do you most value in your friends? Authenticity. I don’t enjoy spending time with people who aren’t genuine.
Who are your favorite writers? Jandy Nelson, Melina Marchetta, Gayle Forman, Jessi Kirby, Miranda Kenneally, Kristin Cashore, Trish Doller, Stephanie Perkins, Marie Rutkoski, Jenny Han, Sara Zarr, Jessica Love, Emery Lord, Lisa Schroeder, Katie Cotugno, Robin Benway, and Morgan Matson, to name a few.
Who is your hero of fiction? Judy Blume is my author hero for sure. I’ve read her chapter books and her middle grade books and her young adult books and even her latest adult novel, and her stories never fail to move me. I had the privilege of meeting her last fall, and I honestly felt like I was meeting a rock star or, like, the President. Of course I was awkward and verklempt, but she was an absolute delight.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Walt Disney. I’ve been fascinated by him since elementary school. He was a visionary, a family man, and incredibly willful. He loved fairy tales and created fantastical, utopian lands people can still visit today. I identify with his creative spirit and big dreams.
What is your motto? “Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air.” (Thanks, Emerson!)
Bio: Katy Upperman is a graduate of Washington State University, a former elementary school teacher, and an insatiable reader. When not writing for young adults, Katy can be found whipping up batches of chocolate chip cookies or exploring the country with her husband and daughter. Find Katy on her website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads.