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: Kelly deVos, author of the YA contemporary, FAT GIRL ON A PLANE, coming from Harlequin Teen in 2018.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Well, 2016 me would have said spending the day at the beach with my family and a good book. Now my perfect day also has to include some kind of a resolution of the dire social and political issues that are currently a part of our daily reality.
What is your greatest fear? My biggest day to day fear is scorpions that are prevalent in our part of Arizona and often find their way into our house. You haven’t lived until you’ve awoken with a large scorpion hanging from the ceiling right over your head!
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Short sightedness. I’m very motivated by short-term goals but have difficulty sticking with things for the long haul.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? The inability to think and read critically. I think those are important and essential life skills.
Which living person do you most admire? Michelle Obama. I so admire the example she sets as a working woman, wife, and mother. I appreciate her efforts to help kids make healthy food choices. I think she’s really helped people in my daughter’s age group become more informed about healthy eating. I wish there would have been someone like Michelle Obama for my generation.
What is your greatest extravagance? Coffee! I don’t even want to contemplate what I spend at coffee shops. Even when I try to put myself on a budget, I have a tough time giving up my lattes.
What is your current state of mind? Right now I’m feeling optimistic about the manuscripts I’m working on. I also see a lot of people hurting and struggling and I feel so grateful that my family is healthy and safe.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Being blunt. I hate the way American culture tries to reward those people who blurt out whatever pops into their heads. In my opinion, being considerate of people’s feelings and thoughtful in one’s approach to communication should be more valued than “keeping it real.”
On what occasion do you lie? When I’m running late. Please don’t tell anyone, but I’m that person talking about how bad traffic is when actually I’m late because I’m having a bad hair day.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Just” and “So” are my big crutch words. I really just need to eliminate them from my writing.
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? I desperately wish I could play a musical instrument. My mom got me a guitar for Christmas. I’m trying to learn to play without destroying my family’s eardrums.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My daughter! She’s a teenager who gets excellent grades, loves to read, watches anime, and makes memes. I feel like I’ve won at life.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Can I come back as J.K. Rowling? (LOL!) If I were to come back as a thing, I’d want to be something lucky – like someone’s lucky socks or a that coffee mug my favorite writer must have at her elbow in order to keep working on her draft.
What is your most treasured possession? My planner! It’s so cute, helps me keep track of my writing goals and came with a bunch of fun stickers.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Waiting. I feel like everything in publishing involves long, long waits. If there is a hell, I feel certain that there will be a very long, slow line to get in and no one will be allowed to use their smartphones while they wait.
What do you most value in your friends? Honestly and loyalty. I really value people who I can count on for an honest, albeit tactful opinion. I also appreciate people who are willing to stick with me in the long haul.
Who are your favorite writers? In adult fiction, my faves are Colson Whitehead and Elmore Leonard. In YA, I love Suzanne Collins, Lori M. Lee and Becky Albertalli. I’m also lucky to have some fabulously talented friends like Abigail Johnson, Dusti Bowling, and Laurie Forest.
Who is your hero of fiction? I have to go with my childhood hero, Trixie Belden. Trixie is the heroine of her own middle-grade mystery series and I love her so much because her mysteries were really instrumental in making me a lifelong reader.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Mary Todd Lincoln. There’s something about her that I just relate to. To me, she seems like she was always trying her best but continually misunderstood and the victim of bad circumstances.
What is your motto? Okay, I’m going way, way back in the day for this answer. Straight from my tenth-grade Latin class. Calvo turpius est nihil comato. There is nothing uglier than a bald man with a combover. It’s Cicero.
A third generation native Arizonan, Kelly deVos can tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about cactus, cattle, and climate. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. Her debut novel, FAT GIRL ON A PLANE, will be published in 2018 by Harlequin Teen. Kelly’s work has been featured in Normal Noise and 202 Magazine, and you can find her on her website, Twitter, and Goodreads.