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, Ronald L. Smith, MG author of Black Panther: The Young Prince, The Mesmerist, The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away, Hoodoo, and Gloomtown.
What is your idea of perfect happiness? A world at peace, where everyone is respected and looks out for each other.
What is your greatest fear? Another four years of T-Rump.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Vanity. The desire to be liked by all.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Self-involvement. Narcissism.
Which living person do you most admire? Civil Rights Icon, John Lewis.
What is your greatest extravagance? Shoes. Clothes. And subscriptions to too many streaming networks.
What is your current state of mind? Anxious and stressed. Like always.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Patience.
On what occasion do you lie? I try not to, but if I have to, it usually involves trying to get out of a situation/event/party/dinner where I know I won’t feel comfortable.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I’m hungry.
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? Being an accomplished classical pianist.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? That I wrote some books late in life, got published, and am continuing to do so.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? A sentient tree.
What is your most treasured possession? My book collection.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Being alone with no human contact.
What do you most value in your friends? Sense of humor. Easygoing personalities.
Who are your favorite writers? Oh, so many! Tolkien. Bradbury. James Baldwin. Donna Tartt. George RR Martin, Philip Pullman, Eleanor Cameron, to name a few.
Who is your hero of fiction? Hmm. Lyra Belacqua from His Dark Materials.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? I’d say James Baldwin, specifically those years when he was a black expatriate in France, hanging out with Richard Wright and Simone de Beauvoir at Café Flore. I visited the café once when I was in Paris and tried to imagine what it must have been like for Baldwin—to leave a country where blacks were second-class citizens, only to find respect and admiration in Europe. I think those days are long gone, though.
What is your motto? “Be true to one’s self.” Also: “What’s for dinner?”
RONALD L. SMITH is an award-winning writer of children’s literature, including the middle-grade novels, Black Panther: The Young Prince, The Mesmerist, The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away and Gloomtown, a Junior Library Guild Selection. His first novel, Hoodoo, earned him the 2016 Coretta Scott King/ John Steptoe New Talent Author Award and the ILA Award for Intermediate Fiction from The International Literacy Association. Before he became a full-time writer, he worked in advertising and wrote TV commercials for big corporations. He is much happier writing books for young people. Learn more about Ron on his website and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
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