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: Debbi Michiko Florence, author of the JASMINE TOGUCHI series (Farrar Straus & Giroux).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? A full day of writing in my studio, The Word Nest; or a leisurely travel day with my husband and daughter; or curling up with a great book and having a full day to read. I see a theme here – a day to do whatever I want with no responsibilities hanging over me.
What is your greatest fear? Losing a loved one.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Being afraid to speak up. (Maybe that’s why I gave that trait to Jasmine Toguchi.)
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Bigotry.
Which living person do you most admire? Pema Chodron.
What is your greatest extravagance? It used to be purses, but I have way too many purses now. Today my greatest extravagance is (vacation) travel.
What is your current state of mind? Gratitude.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Self-control. (See my answer above on my the trait I deplore in myself.)
On what occasion do you lie? If the blatant truth would hurt someone (and if the lie wouldn’t cause worse harm).
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Just. I just use just too much.
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? Playing a musical instrument really well. As a child, I took piano, guitar, accordion (yes, accordion!), and clarinet lessons. I took piano lessons the longest (until I was about 15). I wish I had stayed with it!
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Aside from raising my daughter and selling my books, I’d have to say staying in one home for over six years. For 16 years, I moved every two to three years for my husband’s job. When we moved to here to Connecticut, I felt like I found a real home both in our house and the town. This is the longest we’ve stayed in one home in our 20-plus year marriage. I have no plans to move!
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? An enlightened being.
What is your most treasured possession? My father’s watch. His dad (my grandfather) took it off his own wrist and handed to my (adult) dad. When my dad passed away, with my sister’s blessing, I got his watch.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? When my friends or family members are suffering.
What do you most value in your friends? Steadfastness.
Who are your favorite writers? AHHH! That is too hard! 🙂 Okay, I’m going to narrow it down by only naming adult fiction authors: Barbara Kingsolver, Amy Tan, Sophie Kinsella, Jojo Moyes, and Jane Austen. I’m throwing in Rumiko Takahashi as my favorite manga writer.
Who is your hero of fiction? Fern from Charlotte’s Web.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Michi Nishiura Weglyn (mostly that I greatly admire her, not that I’m anything like her).
What is your motto? “Forward! Always, forward!” (Quote from Hiyao Miyazaki)
DEBBI MICHIKO FLORENCE, a third-generation Japanese American, is the author of children’s books. Her chapter book series Jasmine Toguchi, about a spunky Japanese American eight-year-old girl, has been chosen as Junior Library Guild selections and placed on select “best of” lists. Debbi is also the author of the two early chapter book series Dorothy and Toto and My Furry Foster Family. She has spoken on panels and taught workshops at conferences and book festivals, and presented at numerous schools. Learn more about Debbi on her website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.