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: Saadia Faruqi, author of the early-reader series, YASMIN (Capstone).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being alone on the beach somewhere with a book and an infinite amount of snacks. My kids playing in the water, far enough from me that I can’t hear them arguing. And just the perfect amount of sunshine.
What is your greatest fear? Global warming.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? My quick temper. I tend to get mad suddenly, but I’m working on it in therapy and am very happy with the results.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Not being busy. I am a workaholic, so watching others not be as hectic and immersed in work or hobbies is painful for me.
Which living person do you most admire? Malala Yusufzai. She turned around a tragedy into a personal triumph and utilized her platform to do good for others. She’s my hero.
What is your greatest extravagance? I eat out a lot. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a burger joint or a fancy steakhouse, I love exploring different restaurants and cuisines. My father was the same, and I blame it on him.
What is your current state of mind? It’s always the same: a mix of stress about not having achieved everything on my to-do list, and a sort of high feeling at being busy-busy-busy.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Being a good cook. I would rather eat out, as I’ve mentioned before.
On what occasion do you lie? If I think the truth will hurt someone, I tend to gloss over it. It’s hard for me to expend the time and energy to explain painful things to people. I find it’s better to act as if everything is perfectly fine.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? According to my kids, I use “rubbish” quite a bit. It’s more of a British terminology so they find it funny. But to be honest telling your child their behavior is rubbish is just so… satisfying.
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? I’d love to be able to draw decently. My artistic tendencies are non-existent, but I do think authors who can draw well have a certain edge over those who can’t. So maybe I should add to my to-do list and take a few art classes.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? I’ve written quite a bit, and I have more novels on the way, but the Yasmin series is really my biggest achievement. It’s a series about a Pakistani-American girl who just happens to be Muslim, no big deal. The enthusiasm with which this series is being received by teachers, librarians and parents goes to show how needed it is. I’m honestly awed.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Myself, all over again.
What is your most treasured possession? I don’t think I have any real possessions. I grew up in somewhat-poverty so I didn’t really learn to have attachments to objects. I could possibly lose everything I own and be okay.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Not having my children around me. That would suck.
What do you most value in your friends? I have very few friends, but the ones who have stuck over the years are people who have patience and understanding to see me as I really am.
Who are your favorite writers? Shakespeare will always be my favorite. I have been obsessed with him since my first ninth-grade English literature class.
Who is your hero of fiction? Literally every romance-novel hero I read in my teenage years. The bigger the biceps, the better. They all helped me forget my life for a few short hours while I read, and made me realize how important books were to escaping the mundane.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Queen Cleopatra, with her intelligence, wit and yes, even ruthlessness.
What is your motto? Work hard, unless it’s naptime. Then, nap.