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: Katie A. Nelson, author of the YA contemporary, THE DUKE OF BANNERMAN PREP (Sky Pony/Sky Horse May 2, 2017).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? A day at the beach with my family. The kids would play in the surf or throw tennis balls to the dog, I’d have a book and a cold soda (diet pepsi, in a cup with ice and a straw). None of us would get sunburned and the sand would magically fall off all of us and our stuff before we made it back to the car.
What is your greatest fear? Tough question! I have lots of them! Probably that I’d do something that would cause my children or loved ones to suffer.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I can be critical of others. I’m working on it.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Dishonesty.
Which living person do you most admire? My mom. She’s beautiful and kind and so self-less. She’s had some health challenges in the last few years, and she’s a great example to me of patiently enduring all that life throws at you.
What is your greatest extravagance? Expensive running shoes. I don’t run marathons (the longest race I’ve done is a half-marathon, and that just about killed me!), so it seems hard to justify the cost. In fact, the first time I bought a pair I had a moment of panic when the sales clerk rang them up, especially because I knew I’d need to replace them in about six months. But they make a huge difference. My feet don’t hurt, I don’t get blisters, and I can go farther and faster. In fact, it’s about time I replaced my old ones . . .
What is your current state of mind? Pretty relaxed. It’s Friday afternoon!
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Decorum.
On what occasion do you lie? When anyone asks me if something is “low fat.” Or if they should order dessert. The answer is always YES!
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Just,” “totally,” and “awesome”
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? I’d love to be able to draw. Or play the cello.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Raising four amazing kids.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? My dog. After his morning walk, he spends most of his day lying around or mooching food off of us. I could get used to that.
What is your most treasured possession? My collection of family photos and scrapbooks.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Watching someone suffer, knowing you could have prevented it, but didn’t.
What do you most value in your friends? Their sense of humor! And unconditional acceptance and support.
Who are your favorite writers? I have so many! How much time do you have? Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Victor Hugo, Katherine Patterson, Anne Tyler, Amy Tan, Melina Marchetta, Helen Fielding, Sara Zarr, Jandy Nelson.
Who is your hero of fiction? Jean Valjean. I love a good redemption story!
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Abigail Adams. She was a big part of the revolutionary war, was married to and raised a president, but still managed to take care of the everyday tasks of caring for her family. I don’t think she gets as much credit as she deserves.
What is your motto? Probably this quote from Winston Churchill, which sits next to my desk: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
KATIE NELSON has always loved words and stories. Formerly a high school English and Debate teacher, she now lives in Northern California with her husband, four children, and hyperactive dog. Find Katie on her website, Twitter and Instagram.