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: Samantha M Clark, author of the MG adventure novel, THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST (Paula Wiseman Books/S&S, 2018).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Oooh, good question. But my answer is soooooooo many things: A quiet beach, lapping ocean, calm breeze, table with a cool drink, and chocolates that don’t melt or make me unhealthy, dogs playing with my husband nearby, and a good book in my hands. Oh, and a notebook and pen for when I get story ideas, because writing is happiness too.
What is your greatest fear? I’m terrified of drowning or getting stuck somewhere. Being helpless.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Probably fear and self-doubt. Funnily enough, I deal with that a lot in my book. I constantly second guess myself and worry that I’m going to fail or not be good enough, brave enough. I try to tell myself that I can strive to be my best self in this moment, then the next moment, and repeat.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? When people put themselves above or before others. If every person put others before themselves, we’d all be taken care of.
Which living person do you most admire? I can’t think of one particular person, because I admire lots of people for different reasons. But I will say I most admire people who push aside their fears and insecurities to selflessly help others.
What is your greatest extravagance? I’m not a huge spender on anything I don’t need, although I do like going to a good restaurant when we can afford it. But my biggest extravagance is probably on gifts. I LOVE finding fun and unusual gifts for friends and family.
What is your current state of mind? Curious. These questions are getting me thinking! 🙂
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? This might be a bit edgy for a middle-grade author(:)), but I’d have to say chastity, or purity. To me, this is too close to asking ourselves to be perfect, but when we do that, we set ourselves up for failure. And I’m not just talking about what chastity alludes to; I’m talking about purity in everything we do. If we try to be pure and perfect beings, we will never be happy. Part of being human is learning, striving to be better.
On what occasion do you lie? Honestly, I really try not to lie, but if I’m in a corner and I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, I might try to talk my way around something.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Awesome.” I am awesome at saying awesome. But it’s an awesome word! I know it’s so overused that it’s lost a lot of its meaning, but how awesome is it that people like to point out when things are awesome? <MR: Yes, Samantha. Really awesome! 🙂 >
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? Drawing and painting. Ooh, and maybe singing.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Probably getting THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST into the book I knew it could be. Writing the book challenged me in more ways than I can say, and I never thought anyone would want to publish it. But the Boy’s story wouldn’t leave me alone, and despite many doubts, I kept learning and trying. It’s a different kind of story, but it’s really resonating with readers, and I couldn’t be happier about that.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? A flower, searching for the sun and feeding the bees.
What is your most treasured possession? My husband gave me a first edition of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe for Christmas a few years ago, and I adore it. I longed to go to Narnia when I was kid—still do!—and I still have my childhood copy too. The story fills me with wonder and fun, and knowing that other children and adults have cherished this first edition before me is humbling.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Greed. If we can’t care about others, we can’t truly care about ourselves. And when we take more than we need, we’re not caring for anyone.
What do you most value in your friends? Kindness, consideration for others, and honesty
Who are your favorite writers? Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou, Laurie Halse Anderson, Markus Zusak, Terry Pratchett, and pretty much anyone else who has the courage to share their stories.
Who is your hero of fiction? Wow, there are so many characters that I’ve loved, admired and wanted to be, but I’m going to go back to my childhood and say Lucy Pevensie from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, because she’s filled with wonder, follows her curiousity, and forgives.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Hmm, probably Princess Diana. She was quite happy to stay in the background, but when she was in the forefront, she tried to use it to help others. I hope I’d be the same.
What is your motto? Ooh, I’ve never thought of a personal motto, but I’ve always been partial to, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It covers a lot.
SAMANTHA M CLARK is the author of THE BOY, THE BOAT, AND THE BEAST, which came out on paperback on June 25. She has always loved stories about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. After all, if four ordinary brothers and sisters can find a magical world at the back of a wardrobe, why can’t she? While she looks for her real-life Narnia, she writes about other ordinary children and teens who’ve stumbled into a wardrobe of their own. In a past life, Samantha was a photojournalist and managing editor for newspapers and magazines. She lives with her husband and two kooky dogs in Austin, Texas. Samantha is the Regional Advisor for the Austin chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and explores wardrobes every chance she gets. Learn more about Samantha on her website and follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram.