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: Niki Lenz, author of BERNICE BUTTMAN, MODEL CITIZEN (2019) and THE STEPMOM SHAKE-UP (6/16/20, Random House).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? A day that stretches before me with no obligations. I can lounge in my pajamas, read, do a puzzle, mess around on my guitar or bake something. Wait a minute… did I just describe a global pandemic? Oops.
What is your greatest fear? Dying without making a mark on the world. I need to get into the Guiness Book of World Records for something. Hmm… I wonder what the record is for most consecutive minutes on social media…?
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I am a Grumpy Gus from time to time. It’s the price you pay for the sheer delight I am the rest of the time. But seriously, why am I like this?
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Fakeness. Show me your ugly, but don’t try and tell me you don’t have any.
Which living person do you most admire? If by this, you mean which celebrities would I most like to be my BFFs it would certainly be Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. We would be like the Three Amigos of Lady Comedy. Tina would be the smart one, Amy would the the pretty one. I’d be the funny one.
What is your greatest extravagance? I may have a book buying addiction, but who among us doesn’t?
What is your current state of mind? I’ve made a point to drastically lower my standards for what must be accomplished each day, now that I am homeschooling my children and attempting to work from home. I’m trying to lean into the joy of it (see my description of a perfect day above) and not worry too much about what actually gets done. I am trying to pray more than I worry. And I am trying to check in with the people I love frequently.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Work Ethic. See above. Let’s remember that laziness is also a virtue.
On what occasion do you lie? I often forget that lying is an option, as I generally blurt out the first thing I think of, the uncreative truth. If I have to fabricate a whole story I should get paid for that, as that is literally my job.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I can think of a few four-letter words I should probably use less. (Just, like, also… What four-letter words were you thinking of?) 🙂
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? I would like to be able to read music. I play the guitar and the Ukulele and I sing, but I never quite learned to read sheet music.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? I have raised two children who exhibit all my best characteristics and who are pretty much great. They like to read and they are nice to people.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Maybe I’d like to be a dog. They seem happy all the time and they are easily amused. I’d get used to all the butt sniffing.
What is your most treasured possession? The photo books I’ve made for my kids for each year of their lives. I would run back into a burning building for those. Wait, actually, they are saved online. But I would totally rebuy them with the insurance money.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Running out of coffee.
What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty and honesty.
Who are your favorite writers? I’ve met some amazing authors in the last year who are writing fantastic things for kids. Susan Adrian (Forever Neverland), Rajani LaRocca (Midsummer’s Mayhem), Gillian McDunn (Caterpillar Summer) and Karla Manternach (Meena Meets Her Match) to name drop a few.
Who is your hero of fiction? None can compare with Hermione Granger. “When in doubt, go to the library.” Words to live by.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? I have a lot in common with Teddy Roosevelt. I’ve won a Nobel Peace Prize, scaled the Swiss Alps, and am partially blind in one eye from a boxing accident. Just kidding. But I do love him. For more fun facts about Teddy and his daring daughter Alice, check out THE STEPMOM SHAKE-UP!
What is your motto? I don’t know, what’s a motto with you? Ha. See what I did there? <Sure did, Shecky. I mean, Niki. – M.R.>
NIKI LENZ lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with her husband and children. She studied elementary education at Southwest Baptist University and taught kindergarten for six years. She enjoys reading, travel, glamping, polka dots, red lipstick, and oldies music. She is the author of BERNICE BUTTMAN, MODEL CITIZEN and THE STEPMOM SHAKE-UP. Learn more about Niki on her website and follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.