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 questions. In the hot seat today: Jennifer Fenn, author of the YA contemporary, FLIGHT RISK (Macmillan/Roaring Brook, July 18, 2017).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Sun. Laughter. Music. Family and friends.
What is your greatest fear? Corn fields, and presidents who tweet.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? My tendency toward procrastination and distractibility.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Willful ignorance.
Which living person do you most admire? I am currently having a Diana Nyad moment. For those who are unfamiliar, Nyad overcame childhood abuse and pursued the goal of swimming 110 miles from Cuba to Florida for thirty-five years before finally succeeding at age 64.
What is your greatest extravagance? Having my house cleaned twice a month.
What is your current state of mind? Vacillating between anxious with a side of hopeful, and hopeful with a side of anxious.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Orderliness, in the many ways that can be defined.
On what occasion do you lie? Occasionally, when my young child asks me a difficult question. I recently answered “When will the days end?” with “Never!”
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I tend to exaggerate quantities, such as “There’s twenty million inches of snow outside!” or “I was in line at Old Navy for two thousand years!”
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? I really admire endurance athletes, the super-marathoners of the world who can pursue their goals through pain.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Writing a book, running a marathon, and handling approximately three out of four parenting situations pretty well.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Myself. I am blessed with a loving family, wonderful friends, a warm bed, and probably two thousand books. My life has been marked by a level of comfort and security that many would envy and I try not to take it for granted.
What is your most treasured possession? My wedding album, and the photo albums I’ve created for my daughter.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Being completely and permanently alone.
What do you most value in your friends? Humor, honesty and the ability to drive in the city.
Who are your favorite writers? Beth Kephart, Zadie Smith, Anne Lamott, Laura Kasischke, Junot Diaz, Jerry Spinelli, Megan Abbott, Karen Russell, Elisa Albert.
Who is your hero of fiction? Stargirl, title character of the Jerry Spinelli novel. A true original who responds to hate with kindness.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Benjamin Frankin is my favorite. Inventing bifocals, coining aphorisms, drafting the Declaration of Independence . . . . all in a day’s work!
What is your motto? “When they go low, we go high.” — Michelle Obama
JENNIFER FENN has been filling notebooks since she was in elementary school. A graduate of Lycoming College and Rosemont College’s MFA program, Jennifer is terrified of corn fields but has jumped out of a plane, eats her cereal without milk, and has run a marathon. She lives with her husband, daughter, and Scottish terrier in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Find Jennifer on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
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