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 (aka nosy) questions. It the hot seat today, Leah Henderson, author of the contemporary MG, ONE SHADOW ON THE WALL (Antheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Stumbling upon something unforgettable and unexpected while traveling—it could be as simple as a captivating smile, someone’s laughter, a quaint market, a side street mosaic, or a crooked tree.
What is your greatest fear? Letting someone down, and never knowing that I have. (I cannot try and mend what I don’t know needs mending.)
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Doubt. I doubt myself more than is fair to.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Selfishness.
Which living person do you most admire? Oprah—she’s found ways to navigate this world on her own terms. How can you not applaud/admire that?
What is your greatest extravagance? Travel . . . my wanderlust is serious!
What is your current state of mind? Hopeful
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Tolerance. We have to do more than just tolerate, we need to strive for true understanding and empathy.
On what occasion do you lie? Sometimes someone just needs to hear “It will be all right,” and even though I don’t have a crystal ball, when it comes to that I will always pretend I do.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Absolutely! Definitely! Hot mess… 🙂
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? The ability to speak and dream in a number of languages. (Yes, this is a talent and a gift.)
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Gosh, when it comes to achievements I really just think about making it to the next step (big or small).
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? My dog. He’s having a blessed life full of hugs, friends, fancy treats, and adventures!
What is your most treasured possession? Memories. Possessions come and go, but memories made are what I value most of all.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Never having experiences.
What do you most value in your friends? Optimism, compassion, loyalty, and laughter.
Who are your favorite writers? Toni Morrison, Jacqueline Woodson, Ruta Sepetys, Rupi Kaur, Jan-Philipp Sendker, Carole Boston Weatherford and Christopher Paul Curtis, to name a few.
Who is your hero of fiction? Pippi Longstocking, for her sense of adventure; Sula, for her sass; Edmond Dantés, for his unwavering determination.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? This was a hard one, so I took some quizzes. 🙂 I got Ashoka the Great and Catherine the Great. The “Greats” in their titles seem weighty to live up to, but I’m feeling this description from my Ashoka pairing: “Your family is a source of strength and pride and you place great trust in your family members. You are open to new ideas and opportunities because you know it’ll make you a stronger person.” Now that sounds about right.
What is your motto? When you can’t find sunshine, be sunshine. Also: It’s better to look back on life and say: “I can’t believe I did that” than to look back and say, “I wish I did that.”
LEAH HENDERSON has always loved getting lost in stories. When she is not scribbling down her characters’ adventures, she is off on her own, exploring new spaces and places around the world. Her middle-grade novel, One Shadow on the Wall (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster), was sparked by one of those trips. Leah received her MFA at Spalding University and currently calls Washington D.C. home. Find Leah on her website, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.