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 (i.e., nosy) questions. In the hot seat today: Joanne O’Sullivan, author of the YA contemporary debut, BETWEEN TWO SKIES (Candlewick Press, April 25).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? I’m going to borrow from one of my favorite travel writers, Freya Stark: “To awaken in a strange town is one of the most pleasant sensations in the world. You are surrounded by adventure.” I love having time to explore an interesting place I’ve never been before with absolutely no schedule to adhere to.
What is your greatest fear? Not being able to help those I love when they need it.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Distractibility.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Lack of curiosity.
Which living person do you most admire? I’m a lapsed Catholic if ever there was one, but Pope Francis gets my vote right now.
What is your greatest extravagance? Travel. I am very much a budget traveler, but given the choice between making a home improvement or buying a plane ticket, I will always choose the plane ticket. Consequently, our 90-year-old bungalow is in a state of benign neglect.
What is your current state of mind? Alternating between gratitude and anxiety.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Flat abs.
On what occasion do you lie? When I’m running late.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I’m sorry; Give me a second.
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? I would love to be multilingual. I can speak adequate Italian and a little Spanish and French, but I’d love to be truly fluent in several languages.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Creating a loving family and a happy home.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Probably a bird, but my dog seems to have it pretty sweet, too.
What is your most treasured possession? I’m not really big on possessions, but I do love the art I’ve collected through the years.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? To be without coffee in the morning. No, just kidding. Sort of. Probably to witness injustice and not be able to do anything about it.
What do you most value in your friends? Open-mindedness and open-heartedness, a sense of humor, authenticity, reliability, generosity.
Who are your favorite writers? Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, Walker Percy, Evelyn Waugh, Seamus Heaney, Eric Newby, Barbara Kingsolver, Arundathi Roy, Carlos Ruiz Zafron, Miriam Toews, Jeanette Winterson, Amy Greene, Ta-Nehisi Coates…
Who is your hero of fiction? Snufkin from Tove Jansson’s Moomin books. He’s a philosophical, non-conformist explorer who values solitude!
Which historical figure do you most identify with? JK Rowling? Because we have the same first name and middle initial, we’re close to the same age, she’s the most successful author in history and I’m…also an author. : )
What is your motto? “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
JOANNE O’SULLIVAN traveled the world teaching English as a Second Language and meeting fascinating characters before settling with her husband and two kids in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina, where she writes about people and places as a journalist, non-fiction author and armchair travels while planning her next big trip. Find Joanne on her website, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.