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, Peternelle van Arsdale, author of the YA fantasy, THE BEAST IS AN ANIMAL (Simon & Schuster, February 28, 2017)
What is your idea of perfect happiness? An extra day in the week that no one else knows about.
What is your greatest fear? The very definition of one’s greatest fear is that one is too afraid to state it.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Unkindness.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Unkindness.
Which living person do you most admire? Someone unnamed and unknown who is working her ass off for minimum wage to put food on the table and take care of her children.
What is your greatest extravagance? Moisturizer. I come from a very dry family.
What is your current state of mind? Splintered, with a desire to be less so.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Confidence.
On what occasion do you lie? When the truth would be unnecessarily hurtful.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Oh heavens, the usual: actually, really, like, so. I would use “so” in every sentence (possibly multiple times) if I didn’t self-edit.
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? Trapeze artistry. I’m not kidding. I saw Pink do it, and I was utterly transfixed. The strength required! It’s remarkable.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Not completely messing up my child.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Preferably someone at least a little wiser than me.
What is your most treasured possession? A bracelet that a dear one gave me; I wear it most days, and especially when I need to be reminded that I’m loved.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Feeling that I’ve let someone down.
What do you most value in your friends? Empathy.
Who are your favorite writers? Phillip Pullman, Margaret Atwood, and Jane Austen.
Who is your hero of fiction? Lyra and Will of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. Both of them love fiercely and unabashedly and are relentless in their pursuit of truth.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? This is hard, because there are figures that I admire tremendously, but I wouldn’t presume to say I identify with them. Usually what I admire in these figures is bravery. What I identify with is weakness. Identification suggests that in some way you see yourself in that person, and it’s hard to see myself in someone who’s made it into the history books. I plead the fifth.
What is your motto? “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.”
PETERNELLE VAN ARSDALE is a book editor who never thought she’d write a book. She lives in New York City, where she is at work on her second novel. Find Peternelle on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. You can also sign up for her newsletter.
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