Popularized by the French essayist and novelist Marcel Proust, the Proust Questionnaire is said to reveal a person’s true nature through a series of probing (i.e., nosy) questions. It the hot seat today: Lindsay Currie, author of the contemporary middle-grade debut, THE PECULIAR INCIDENT ON SHADY STREET (Aladdin/S&S, 2017).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being with my family, passing around marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers in front of a crackling campfire.
What is your greatest fear? Missing out on important moments in my children’s lives. Yeah, I’m the mom who freaks about missing athletic/academic events.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Self-doubt. I struggle with this in my everyday life: Am I being a good mom? A good wife? A good pet owner? I especially struggle with it in my writing. It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of comparing yourself to others, and when it comes to writing I truly believe it’s the kiss of death. Still, worrying about being “good enough” is a hard habit to break.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? I’d have to say arrogance. It’s totally cool to feel as if you’re good at something; personally, I think we all deserve to feel that way from time to time. But a little humility goes a long way.
Which living person do you most admire? My first instinct is to name my husband or kiddos, because they inspire me every single day, but I’m going to go a different route and choose someone who I admire from a professional standpoint: Lin-Manuel Miranda. Not only do I adore Hamilton, but I deeply appreciate the fact that Lin-Manuel makes every moment count. He truly does write like he’s running out of time, and puts his whole heart into every project – probably why they all end up so AMAZING.
Walt Whitman summed up my feelings best, in his poem “O Me! O Life!”:
“Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish . . .
—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”
What is your greatest extravagance? Pomegranate seeds. They’re stupid expensive, but I love them so much that I just can’t pass them up at the grocery store.
What is your current state of mind? Happy. This week the ALA Youth Media Awards were announced, and there’s something magical about the experience of watching it. Publishing is a challenging industry and every author I know, myself included, faces tons of rejection. Seeing hard-working and talented colleagues be honored the way they are, through the YMAs, is special and puts me in a good mood!
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Patience. I know, I know. It’s ironic that an impatient person would choose to work in an industry that involves so much waiting *stares at inbox and sighs*, but here I am! I suppose I should be more clear and say that I do value patience to a degree, but I also feel that too much patience borders on complacency. Yup. You guys are learning all my dirty little secrets. I’m an impatient book nerd with a weakness for pomegranate seeds.
On what occasion do you lie? VERY rarely. I’ve never been a good liar (hence the fact that I lose at virtually every card game that involves bluffing), and I feel terrible about it, too. I will admit to lying when I believe it’s going to save someone’s feelings, but other than that, hardly ever.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? The crutch words I always have to find and replace in my projects include “just,” “really,” and “actually.” Those three are so darn frustrating!
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? Might sound strange, but I’d love to have an artistic talent that is more tangible. Like pottery, for example. I’ve never once used a kiln, but it looks ridiculously fun. Plus, the idea of creating something visually beautiful is cool!
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My children being awesome humans. They are strong, brave, clever, empathetic, and all-around wonderful people. Although I can’t take credit for all the amazing things they bring to this world, I like to think I played a small role in it.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? I’d like to think I would come back as something wonderful, but it’s especially appealing to think of returning as something peaceful, like a tree full of bright leaves in the fall, or maybe a pond surrounded by swaying pine trees. Heck, maybe I should just come back as a Bob Ross painting. It doesn’t get more tranquil than that. 🙂
What is your most treasured possession? If we’re talking physical possessions, my writing desk is something I cherish. It’s a place that inspires me and allows me to do what I love. It also happens to be the only place in my home that’s just mine. Even if I knew I’d never sell another book, I’d still write. It’s how I decompress, how I make sense of the world, and express myself. Having a place to do that is something I truly treasure.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Being alone. I cherish the moments I have with my family, and even though we have some days that are so manic I fear we’ll all die if my husband or I aren’t cloned soon, there’s a unique sense of joy in being needed.
What do you most value in your friends? I value a lot of things – loyalty, empathy, kindness, but I’d have to say that optimism is one of my most appreciated traits in friends. I’ve always found it exhausting to be around people who are perpetually negative. It breeds anxiety in me. I’d much rather surround myself with people who chase silver linings.
Who are your favorite writers? Judy Blume is one of my favorite writers of all time. Her books were groundbreaking. They didn’t just glaze over topics that were previously considered taboo, they showcased them! Then there’s that timelessness factor. Her earliest titles still speak to today’s youth. They offered characters that readers could identify with, characters who struggled with the very real (and sometimes embarrassing) challenges of growing up, and made all of us feel just a little less alone.
I also love JK Rowling. It’s not a secret that I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, and have been for years. The world, the characters, the plot . . . it’s all magical to me. The fact that she managed to create a world that is simultaneously unique yet comforting is insanely impressive. I’m visiting Scotland this summer with my family and you bet that The Elephant House is on our agenda. It’s one of the locations JK Rowling wrote frequently, and I can’t wait to experience it!
Who is your hero of fiction? Ack! I have so many! Let’s go with Billy Colman from Where the Red Fern Grows. On the surface that book looks like something that wouldn’t interest me, but as a child I read my old paperback copy so many times that the cover fell off! Billy is a brave, determined, and resilient character – all traits I admire.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Truthfully, I’m not sure. I feel like although I’m hitting my groove as an adult (about time, right?) and a writer, I’m still not certain about what my contribution to humanity is. Without knowing that, it’s hard to identify with anyone from the past. When I do figure it out though, I hope it’s someone who continually strived to make the world a better place, regardless of the obstacles.
What is your motto? Might sound cliché, but I’ve loved the motto, “Carpe Diem,” ever since seeing Dead Poets Society as a kid. Translated to English, it means “seize the day.” In a society where we live in constant chaos, rushing from one obligation to the next while everything in between often gets ignored, I can’t think of a more meaningful concept than making the most of each day… each hour…each moment.
“You see, gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? Carpe… hear it? Carpe… carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” – John Keating, Dead Poets Society
LINDSAY CURRIE lives in Chicago, Illinois, with her husband and three children. She loves coffee, Halloween, Disney World, and writing books that take place in her favorite city in the world – Chicago! Lindsay is represented by Kathleen Rushall, of Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Find Lindsay at her website, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.