The Proust Questionnaire — a parlor game 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: Tanaz Bhathena, author of the forthcoming YA novel, QALA ACADEMY (Macmillan/FSG Books for Young Readers, Fall 2017).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? A cup of steaming hot tea, a good book, rain pattering on my window, family laughing in the background.
What is your greatest fear? Flying insects!
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Overthinking.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Narrow-mindedness.
Which living person do you most admire? My parents.
What is your greatest extravagance? Traveling to different places.
What is your current state of mind? Content: The sky is blue. The clouds are white. It’s a beautiful summer day.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? The one that rhymes with godliness.
On what occasion do you lie? Are you trying to get me into trouble, Melissa? 🙂
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I have been using “exactly” a lot more these days. And “you know.”
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? Drawing caricatures. I honestly started writing because I was a failed cartoonist.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Fooling my relatives in India into thinking I couldn’t understand a word of what they were saying.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? As long as it isn’t a flying insect… ha ha! I’m not sure if I would want to come back, honestly.
What is your most treasured possession? My laptop.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? A loved one in pain.
What do you most value in your friends? The ability to listen. And to make me laugh.
Who are your favorite writers? Rohinton Mistry, Khaled Hosseini, Arundhati Roy, Jandy Nelson, Courtney Summers, and Nova Ren Suma.
Who is your hero of fiction? Jane Eyre. She has a quiet sort of strength that I’ve really come to admire as I’ve grown older.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? I’m not anything like them, but Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi and Madam Bhikhaiji Cama are two women in Indian history who I’ve grown up admiring – one a queen and a soldier, the other a revolutionary – both who took no crap from others and fought fiercely for their country’s freedom.
What is your motto? “If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way.”
TANAZ BHATHENA was born in Mumbai and raised in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Toronto. Her short stories have appeared in various journals, including Blackbird, Witness, and Room Magazine. Her debut YA novel, QALA ACADEMY, will be published by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers/Macmillan in the fall of 2017. Find Tanaz on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Instagram.