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, soul-searching questions. In the hot seat today; Laura Shovan, author of TAKEDOWN (Wendy Lamb Books, 2018).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? I think there are two kinds of perfect happiness. There are peak moments – those fleeting experiences where you realize something special or memorable is happening as it’s happening. (One of mine was driving down a country road with a friend, chasing the sunset in her convertible, the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight” on the radio.) But there is also the long-term happiness that comes from inner peace, however a person defines that.
What is your greatest fear? The death of a child.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Petulance.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Back-stabbing.
Which living person do you most admire? Grace Cavalieri — my teacher and current Maryland State Poet Laureate.
What is your greatest extravagance? Books!
What is your current state of mind? Relief. (My co-author, Saadia Faruqi, and I just turned in revisions. Our book, A Place at the Table, will be out in 2020.)
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Being a good test taker.
On what occasion do you lie? When I’m keeping a boundary with someone I don’t trust.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Awesome.” But can you have too much awesome? (Crediting my critique partner Timanda Wertz for that last bit!)
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? Dance skills. I have none.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Letting go of the urge to control my children.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? A scientist studying climate change and advocating for action.
What is your most treasured possession? My grandmother’s paintings.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Raw grief.
What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty, empathy, and humor.
Who are your favorite writers? Susan Cooper, Neil Gaiman, Dianna Wynne Jones, and the women in my critique group.
Who is your hero of fiction? Wizard Howl. (Swoon.)
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Beatrix Potter. She was a children’s author and also a scientist and passionate observer of nature.
What is your motto? “Don’t tread on me.”
LAURA SHOVAN’s debut middle-grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, won several awards, including NCTE 2017 Notable Verse. Her novel Takedown was selected by Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way, and was on the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer list of feminist books. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with author/activist Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a longtime poet-in-the-schools in Maryland. She likes to knit, bake bread, and doodle robots. Learn more about Laura on her website and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
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