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: Melissa Roske, author of the contemporary MG debut, KAT GREENE COMES CLEAN (Charlesbridge, August 22).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Hanging out with my daughter, Chloe, eating ice cream (any flavor, I’m not picky) and watching Scandal on Netflix.
What is your greatest fear? That something terrible could happen to my family.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Indecision. At least I think that’s my most deplorable trait.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? A lack of empathy.
Which living person do you most admire? Anyone who advocates for the rights of children. Esther Rantzen, the founder of the UK-based nonprofit ChildLine, comes to mind.
What is your greatest extravagance? Not counting books (they’re educational, okay?), I’d say frequent trips to Sephora to buy overpriced – and alas, ineffective – face creams.
What is your current state of mind? Cautiously optimistic.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Excelling at sports. Wait. That’s not a virtue. How about patience?
On what occasion do you lie? When my husband asks if his bald spot is getting bigger.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Seriously?” “Really?” “Seriously…?”
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? I’d love to tap dance like Ann Miller in Kiss Me, Kate (ideally, the “Too Darn Hot” number). I tried tap classes, but it was a complete disaster. I couldn’t remember the steps. And I kept tripping.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Besides having a book published, I’d say my daughter, Chloe. She’s the smartest, loveliest, most level-headed person I know. And I’m not just saying that because I’m her mother. Seriously. I’m not.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? An elderly man surrounded by lonely widows. That, or a well-loved puppy.
What is your most treasured possession? After my family experienced an apartment fire in 2004 and lost many of our possessions, including my daughter’s baby clothes, I learned not to get attached to material objects. Everything is replaceable. Except people.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Watching someone you love suffer without being able to do anything about it.
What do you most value in your friends? Empathy, reliability, and a sense of humor. Bonus points for the ability to tap dance.
Who are your favorite writers? Louise Fitzhugh; Judy Blume; Norma Klein; M.E. Kerr, Rebecca Stead; Kate DiCamillo; Kwame Alexander; Terry McMillen, Nora Ephron; Armistead Maupin; Chinua Achebe; Sara Lewis, Ernest Hemingway; Ann Hood; Toni Morrison… Can I stop now?
Who is your hero of fiction? Harriet M. Welsch. She’s super busy with her spy route, yet she always has time for a chocolate egg cream at the local luncheonette.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? I should make myself sound intellectual and say Eleanor of Acquitaine or Madame Curie (or Sacagawea, or Susan B. Anthony, or Indira Ghandi…), but I’m going with Cleopatra. She was smart, sexy, and rocked a bold eye.
What is your motto? “Life is a struggle, and a good spy gets in there and fights.”
MELISSA ROSKE is a writer of contemporary middle-grade fiction. Before spending her days with imaginary people, Melissa interviewed real ones, as a journalist in Europe. In London, she landed a job as an advice columnist for Just Seventeen magazine, where she answered hundreds of letters from readers each week. Upon returning to her native New York, Melissa contributed to several books and magazines, selected jokes for Reader’s Digest, and got certified as a life coach. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, daughter, and the occasional dust bunny. Find Melissa on her website, on Facebook, on Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.