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: J. Kasper Kramer, author of the MG debut, THE STORY THAT CANNOT BE TOLD (S&S/Atheneum, 2019).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? A snuggle pile of kittens. (Seriously, though, a sense of financial security and good health, coupled with the time and ability to enjoy my favorite hobbies would be nice.)
What is your greatest fear? Pre-pandemic: Failure. Pandemic: Getting sick or my loved ones getting sick and me not being with them.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? The way I respond to anxiety. I either overwork myself or shut down entirely.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Willful ignorance or lack of compassion.
Which living person do you most admire? The Kitten Lady.
What is your greatest extravagance? Buying more items at Taco Bell than I know I should eat.
What is your current state of mind? Stressed.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Loyalty.
On what occasion do you lie? When it protects someone who needs it.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Angy. As in, “That poor li’l kitty is angy because she didn’t get double dinner.”
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? I wish I could draw. It’s particularly annoying because I’m a visual learner, so I often need to sketch out where my characters are in action scenes (or on a map, if they’re traveling), but I’m embarrassingly bad at it. I also do a lot of crafting—like cross stitch and knitting—but I struggle a lot when I try to design my own patterns, which is frustrating.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Becoming an author has been a lifelong dream—I literally told my kindergarten teacher about it—so that really tops everything else.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Can I be a cat? Or a tree? If not, and I have to be a person, I’d just prefer to be born somewhere with good healthcare and good food and beautiful, well-preserved mountains and forests—somewhere that takes care of its citizens and believes in the value of education and art.
What is your most treasured possession? I have lots of things that are precious to me, of course, but when something happens where I have to quickly determine the value of objects—like when I’m taking shelter during a tornado warning—all that matters are my husband and our animals.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Feeling like I failed at something because I didn’t try hard enough. Losing faith in other people.
What do you most value in your friends? Kindness. Good sense of humor. Intelligence. Shared interests. (In that order.)
Who are your favorite writers? If the real question is something like what are my favorite books/genres/styles of writing, that changes too constantly for me to pin down. My favorite writer as a person, though, is Andre Norton. I met her as a child and it’s stayed with me my whole life.
Who is your hero of fiction? Are we talking comic books? Movies? Novels? Games? Anime? I’m a pretty big geek, so I have a lot of favorites. Buffy and Willow. Homura Akemi and Kagome Higurashi. Ellie, Aloy, Tali’Zorah, Lara Croft. Black Widow, Wonder Woman, Gamora. (This could go on forever.)
Which historical figure do you most identify with? I could tell you the name of some infamous warrior or educator or artist or revolutionary, but honestly, I probably most identify with some peasant girl dreaming about the big, wide world and hoping things change for the better.
What is your motto? “You can get through anything if you know it will end.” Too dark? How about: “The cake is a lie.”
J. KASPER KRAMER is the author of The Story That Cannot Be Told. She teaches college English, loves video games, and fosters neonatal kittens for animal shelters. Once upon a time, Kramer lived in Japan, where she worked at an international school. Her next book, The List of Unspeakable Fears, is forthcoming Fall 2021 from Simon & Schuster/Atheneum. Learn more about J. Kasper Kramer on her website and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.