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: Ernesto Cisneros, author of the contemporary MG debut, EFRÉN DIVIDED (HarperCollins, March 31)
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Happiness means different things to different people. To me, it is feeling enthusiastic about what the day may bring and content with what I have around me. My family provides that for me.
What is your greatest fear? I have many fears. Heights, snakes, sharks… pretty much anything that could kill me.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I tend to worry about things in my life that I have little or no control over. It’s a source of great anxiety.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Unyielding selfishness and lack of empathy for others. Our society is built more so on our “wants” than our “needs.”
Which living person do you most admire? As corny as this might sound, the answer is my parents. Despite the troubles that my siblings and I caused, they only responded with unconditional love. It’s a simple but challenging principal to follow.
What is your greatest extravagance? I don’t have it yet. But I’m eyeing a pair of Bose noise-cancelling headphones. Unfortunately, I’m too cheap to spend that kind of money on myself. Sigh.
What is your current state of mind? I’m good. I’m in a good place right now. There is so much to look forward to this coming year.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Ambition. Too often it becomes a vice that leads to overt greed.
On what occasion do you lie? The only time I lie is to spare someone pain. Other than that, I don’t see the point of doing it.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? That, dude, seriously, and “More ketchup, please.”
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? I’d like the ability to play the guitar, sing and dance.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Easiest question yet. My children. They are everything to me.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? I’d like to come back as the wind and soar the world without any worries to slow me down.
What is your most treasured possession? A box of old birthday cards from my wife and children that I keep hidden in a box.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Loneliness and hopelessness.
What do you most value in your friends? Their concern for my welfare and ability to make me laugh.
Who are your favorite writers? Paulo Coelho, Sandra Cisneros, Jerry Spinelli, Dr. Seuss, Sarah Scheerger, and Donald J. Sobol.
Who is your hero of fiction? I grew up admiring Encyclopedia Brown because of his willingness to help as well as his ability to outsmart his foes.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? It’s difficult to truly identify with any historical figure because you have to take the good with the bad, and we don’t really have a complete picture of who they really were.
What is your motto? “Only care about what loved ones think of me.”
ERNESTO CISNEROS was born and raised in Santa Ana, California, where he still teaches. He holds an English degree from the University of California, Irvine; a teaching credential from California State University, Long Beach; as well as a master of fine arts in creative writing from National University. As an author, he believes in providing today’s youth with an honest depiction of characters with whom they can identify. The real world is filled with amazing people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. His work strives to reflect that. Efrén Divided is his first book. Learn more about Ernesto on his website and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
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