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, thought-provoking questions. In the hot seat today: Jonathan Rosen, author of the MG contemporary, NIGHT OF THE LIVING CUDDLE BUNNIES (Sky Pony, 2016) and FROM SUNSET TIL SUNRISE (Sky Pony, 2017).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? I’m not sure I’m ever fully, one-hundred percent happy, but if I have to pick something, I’d say getting to spend time with my family during the day and then write at night. For good measure, let’s throw in a nap too!
What is your greatest fear? Other than clowns? It’s not being successful as a writer. I don’t mean financially; I mean having a long career. I want to have many books out at once.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? As everyone knows, there’s nothing really to deplore in me. I mean, I’m really thinking hard here, but nope. Can’t come up with a thing.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Meanness and bullying. I can’t stand or tolerate either. I’ve seen famous people do it, and I think it’s awful. I’ll never act that way, no matter how famous I (might) get.
Which living person do you most admire? I admire people who never give up on their dreams, and who continue to pursue them, no matter what. I also have a definite fondness for Mark Twain. (Not that he’s alive, of course.)
What is your greatest extravagance? Books, books, books. I have way too many and will probably always have too many. If I see one I want, I buy it. I read them when I can get to them, but there is always a big pile waiting for me.
What is your current state of mind? I’m finally starting to feel optimistic. I hate saying that, but it’s true. I feel hopeful that good things are going to happen.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Honesty. It can lead to many hurt feelings. When someone gives a blistering critique and then says, “I’m just being honest,” it’s like a license to be a jerk. It’s never good to hurt someone.
On what occasion do you lie? When someone asks me to be brutally honest with them. There’s no way to be happy with the outcome.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Awesome.” Not everything is awesome, but it’s a byproduct of my Eighties days.
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? I would love to act. I majored in theater for a time, and I still have that acting bug in me. Writing is an extension of that creative outlet; creating scenes and bringing characters to life.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? I’ll start with the obligatory answer of my children. They definitely are my greatest achievement. But now, with my book so close to coming out, I’ll have to list that up there. Not at the very top, but close. It took many years to get to that spot. Many rejections and setbacks, and I’m proud of myself for not giving up, and for fulfilling one of my dreams.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Melissa Roske is my number one choice. <Obviously — M.R.> After that, I’d say a famous actor. It’s another way of bringing creations to life.
What is your most treasured possession? I have some very old books and comics. Monetary value aside, I like just holding them and thinking about the time in the world when they came out. Just picturing myself living in the years they were published.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Helplessness. Seeing people do certain things, or witnessing events happening in the world, and you’re powerless to stop it. I get this feeling when my kids are sick, and when my dad passed away. It’s horrible.
What do you most value in your friends? Humor and loyalty. If someone can’t find the funny in things, we will not make good friends. I like to joke, and I don’t like to take life too seriously. I also value loyalty. The worst feeling is when you think you can trust someone, and it winds up it was a misplaced feeling. That realization leaves you stunned.
Who are your favorite writers? My all-time favorite is Mark Twain. And it’s not even that his books are my all-time favorites, or that he had a great sense of humor. It’s that he knew how to craft a story and, more importantly, he had a humbleness to him – and a strong sense of right and wrong. As far as a favorite book, I just love Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. So irreverent and funny.
Who is your hero of fiction? Tom Sawyer, because he’s funny and scheming, but not nasty. He’s always two steps ahead of everyone else.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? My initial instinct is to say Genghis Khan, but I’m going to go with Mark Twain. Twain seemed to have a great understanding of human nature, and of the world. Maybe it’s only today’s depiction of him, but from everything I’ve read he seemed like a remarkable person.
What is your motto? “Don’t give up!” Seriously, you can’t. If you want something, you have to keep plugging away at it, even though it may seem hopeless. Those who give up will never get anywhere.
JONATHAN ROSEN is a transplanted New Yorker who now lives with his family in sunny South Florida. He spends his “free” time being a volunteer coach and chauffeur for his three kids. Some of Jonathan’s fondest childhood memories are of discovering a really good book to dive into. He currently writes middle grade because he shares the same sense of humor as that audience. Jonathan is proud to be of Mexican-American descent, although neither country has been willing to accept responsibility. Find Jonathan on his website, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. He also blogs at From the Mixed-Up Files and Tuesday Writers.