The Proust Questionnaire, popularized by the French novelist and essayist Marcel Proust, is said to reveal a person’s true nature through a series of probing, soul-searching questions. In the hot seat today: Christine Kendall, author of The True Definition of Neva Beane (2020) and Riding Chance (2016), both published by Scholastic.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Birding. It’s the time when I feel most in the moment.
What is your greatest fear? Losing the ability to see beauty in the world.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? My tendency to overthink everything.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Pretentiousness. It’s, just, tiresome.
Which living person do you most admire? There are many people I admire. One is my elderly neighbor, Pearl Simpson. She’s intelligent, gracious, and beautiful.
What is your greatest extravagance? Keeping fresh flowers in my home. They bring me joy.
What is your current state of mind? Exhausted by the state of the world.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Obeisance. Respect should be earned and reciprocated.
On who occasion do you life? To protect someone’s feelings.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Hopefully.” I’m basically optimistic.
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? The talent to create visual art. I’ve tried. Let’s just say I have a long way to go.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Remaining true to myself.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Definitely a bird. A magnificent bird like an osprey.
What is your most treasured possession? Uncle, a small wooden statue I found in Johannesburg, South Africa.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Materialism.
What do you most value in your friends? Good humor.
Who are your favorite writers? There are many: Kacen Callender, James Baldwin, Louise Erdrich, Elizabeth Strout.
Who is your hero of fiction? Marcelo, from Francisco Stork’s Marcelo in the Real World.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Civil rights icon, John Lewis.
What is your motto? “When one door closes, another always opens.”
CHRISTINE KENDALL grew up in a family of artists, the fourth of six children, where everyone studied the piano along with one other instrument. She still feels sorry for the neighbors. They woke up one morning and found themselves living next door to a flute, two clarinets, a french horn, a cello, a set of drums, and always, always somebody on the piano. Christine wasn’t any good on the piano or the clarinet but she loved writing. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals and her debut novel, Riding Chance, was nominated for a NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literary Work for Youth/Teens. The True Definition of Neva Beane is her second novel. Christine lives in Philadelphia where she co-curates and hosts the award- winning reading series, Creative at the Cannery. Learn more about Christine on her website and follow her on Twitter.