The Proust Questionnaire, popularized by the French novelist and essayist Marcel Proust, is said to reveal a person’s true nature through a series of probing, soul-searching questions. In the hot seat today: Natalie Rompella, author of the MG novel Cookie Cutters and Sled Runners, and nonfiction titles The World Never Sleeps, The Secrets of Storytelling, and more.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? A world without hate.
What is your greatest fear? Death.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Being observant. I can tell it bugs others (read: my family). I always notice EVERY little thing.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Cruelty.
Which living person do you most admire? Jane Goodall—she has devoted her adult life to her cause.
What is your greatest extravagance? Maybe spending a lot on wool socks? Seriously, I wear them every day in the fall through spring and am slightly picky on what kind. I end up splurging on new ones every other year.
What is your current state of mind? With the pandemic/quarantine, I suppose I am in a state of anticipation. There’s part of me just waiting, waiting for the world to open up again and things to return to pre-quarantine. We’re all kind of on the edge of our seats.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? I’m not sure, but I can tell you bacon is overrated. I could take it or leave it. Most underrated virtue though is passion. Everyone needs to realize theirs and take time to feed it.
On what occasion do you lie? To save someone’s feelings.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? According to my son, “It didn’t dawn on me.” I’m not sure whether that means I’m not mindful?
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? I would love to be able to sing and have the courage to perform.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My children.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? An animal that lives in the rainforest. Maybe a gorilla? It would be great to freely travel from tree to tree, high and low instead of traveling on a flat plane as humans do.
What is your most treasured possession? Photos and videos of my family.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Watching someone suffer mentally or physically.
What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty.
Who are your favorite writers? Ann M. Martin, Katherine Applegate, John Green, and Jodi Picoult.
Who is your hero of fiction? Ivan in The One and Only Ivan—an animal activist who’s an animal.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Rachel Carson.
What is your motto? It is from a Mary Englebreit picture titled, Don’t Look Back. It’s an image of a fork in the road. One direction has a sign that reads, “Your Life” and the other has a sign that reads, “No longer an option.” I remember seeing the picture after my father passed away very suddenly. Sometimes life takes a turn you don’t expect and (often) don’t want. Eventually, you have to accept the new path your life has taken.
NATALIE ROMPELLA is the author of more than sixty books and resources for kids, including an insect picture book, The World Never Sleeps (Tilbury House; a 2019 IL Reads selection), a middle grade novel, Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners (Sky Pony Press), and her newest, a writing workbook, Secrets of Storytelling (Rockridge Press). Natalie is a former elementary and middle school teacher, as well as a former museum educator and curriculum coordinator for the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. She enjoys doing school visits for grades K-8 on insects and writing. Learn more about Natalie on her website and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.