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, Sara Biren, author of the YA contemporary novel, THE LAST THING YOU SAID (Abrams/Amulet, April 4, 2017).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? The musical stylings of Vince Guaraldi: Linus & Lucy.
What is your greatest fear? That my children won’t believe in themselves or their dreams.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I typically don’t sweat the small stuff, but when I do worry about something, I go all out.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Condescension.
Which living person do you most admire? My mother. While she’s incredibly stoic and practical, she’s also extremely generous and supportive. My parents believed in my dream to become a writer from the very start, and my mom made sure I had plenty of opportunities to pursue that dream.
What is your greatest extravagance? Legos for my kiddos.
What is your current state of mind? Overwhelmed. There’s a lot going on right now.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Orderliness. Sure, it’s important to be organized, but there is inspiration and serendipity in disarray.
On what occasion do you lie? When my daughter asks, “Is there cheese in this?”
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Awesome.” “Just.” And “Did you practice piano today?”
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? I would love to be able to play the piano.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Seeing my dream of having a book published become a reality, after many, many years of hard work and perseverance.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? The January thaw in Minnesota – sunshine and unseasonably warms temps and that beautiful sound of dripping water.
What is your most treasured possession? My engagement and wedding rings.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Missing someone who can never come back.
What do you most value in your friends? A sense of humor, sarcasm, and loyalty.
Who are your favorite writers? Jane Austen, Anne Tyler, Kate Morton, Maud Hart Lovelace, J.K. Rowling, Rainbow Rowell, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, Tim O’Brien.
Who is your hero of fiction? Snoopy.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? I’ve always been drawn to the life of writer and women’s rights activist Margaret Fuller. Much of my college and grad school years were spent studying her work. (She had a bit of a temper, and I can definitely identify with that.)
What is your motto? “Keep moving forward.”
SARA BIREN holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and is a member of SCBWI, The Loft Literary Center, YA Buccaneers, and #2017Debuts. She lives in a small town outside Minneapolis with her husband and our two kids. Find Sara on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.