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: Melissa Sarno, author of the contemporary MG debut JUST UNDER THE CLOUDS (2018), and A SWIRL OF OCEAN (2019), both from Knopf Books for Young Readers.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? A feeling of warmth and quiet, sun, sky, and knowing something I didn’t know before.
What is your greatest fear? Losing my children and husband.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Being afraid to speak up.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Narcissism.
Which living person do you most admire? Julie Andrews.
What is your greatest extravagance? Expensive cheese, restaurants, and tasting menus.
What is your current state of mind? Contemplative. (Maybe that’s an always state of mind.)
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Purity.
On what occasion do you lie? If it won’t hurt myself or anyone else.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “So.” It’s not enough to be cute, it’s so cute. Things are not funny, they are so funny.
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? I wish I could draw.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Writing a book.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Someone bolder.
What is your most treasured possession? My memories.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Small talk.
What do you most value in your friends? Kindness.
Who are your favorite writers? Haruki Murakami, Mary Oliver, Celeste Ng, George Saunders, Paul Yoon, Patti Smith, Aimee Bender, Jhumpa Lahiri, Nina LaCour, Beth Kephart, Rebecca Stead, Kathi Appelt, Jacqueline Woodson, Kate DiCamillo… Somebody stop me; this could go on all night.
Who is your hero of fiction? Anne Shirley.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? I was not a great history student. Can we go with historical television? Mary Richards from The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
What is your motto? “This too shall pass.”