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: JAMIE SUMNER, author of the contemporary MG debut, ROLL WITH IT (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, October 1, 2019).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Happy, healthy kids and a story to tell.
What is your greatest fear? Loneliness and boredom (i.e. see answer above).
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Control freak raises her hand.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Lack of empathy.
Which living person do you most admire? My son. He has cerebral palsy and also the biggest, softest, joy-filled heart of anyone I know.
What is your greatest extravagance? Coats! Oh, how I love a good coat. Be it trench or fleece or leather or denim, I will find it and I will buy it.
What is your current state of mind? Jittery. As I type this, ROLL WITH IT is within a month of its debut.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? YOLO. If I don’t want to skydive or ice fish, you can’t make me.
On what occasion do you lie? When I don’t remember someone’s name, because I am TERRIBLE at names. I give a whole lot of “hey, you,” shoulder slaps.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Sure.” “Absolutely.” “Yep.” At least they’re all affirmatives, right?
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? I want to master the yeast breads. I want to be the woman who can make the best hot cross buns you’ve ever tasted.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Finding balance. I am not naturally a calm sea. But my spouse is and I’ve found my way closer to the middle and the view is lovely here.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? A dog. Specifically, my dog. I’m pretty sure she lives better than the rest of us.
What is your most treasured possession? A mug that was my grandmother’s with a picture of a mouse lifting a barbell that reads: “Lord, give me strength.”
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? See question #2. Loneliness!
What do you most value in your friends? Humor and a necessary level of chill. My best friend flew from San Francisco to L.A. to visit me at a writing conference, and we did nothing. We sat by the pool. Ate. Watched TV. Ate some more. Talked a lot. It was divine.
Who are your favorite writers? Kate DiCamillo, John Irving, JK Rowling as Robert Galbraith – I love the Cormoran Strike series!
Who is your hero of fiction? Owen Meany! He’s funny, quirky, and 100 percent true to his convictions.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Madeleine L’Engle – her imagination was bigger than this world, and instead of making her aloof, it made her a better human.
What is your motto? Borrowing a line from my new novel, ROLL WITH IT: “Sometimes, the best plan is the one you don’t make for yourself.”
JAMIE SUMNER is the author of the middle-grade novel, ROLL WITH IT. Her second and third middle-grade novels with Atheneum Books for Young Readers will be coming out in 2020 and 2021. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other publications. She loves stories that celebrate the grit and beauty in all kids. She is also mom to a son with cerebral palsy and lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit Jamie on her website and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
For a chance to win a *signed* copy of ROLL WITH IT, leave a note in the comments section! (Winner will be chosen at random on 10/4/19)