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: TE Carter, author of the YA contemporary novel, I STOP SOMEWHERE (Feiwel & Friends, 2018).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? I don’t think there is such a thing. Happiness is dependent on sadness and trouble, because we appreciate its sweetness more. So, while I wish the world was always good and there was never pain, I know that pain is what makes the good what it is. Happy days for me include snuggling with a kitty, relaxing, and enjoying the moment.
What is your greatest fear? Not doing the things I should have, and not trying to get the most out of opportunities.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? My anxiety, and my inability to connect with people. I have a hard time socializing, and I’m very uncomfortable in crowds. This makes it difficult to build relationships. It also limits my opportunities.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? A lack of empathy. I think we could solve most of the world’s problems if we took a few minutes to see things from another person’s perspective.
Which living person do you most admire? My dad. He’s smart, kind, and honest.
What is your greatest extravagance? A pair of hundred-dollar Prada flip-flops I bought in Capri, Italy.They’re just regular flip-flops, but they were worth the ridiculous expense.
What is your current state of mind? Emptiness. I’m missing my kitty, who got cancer and passed away recently. He was only eight. It’s hard, because he was my best friend.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Being outgoing. We could all benefit from talking less and listening more.
On what occasion do you lie? I’m actually too honest. I will say what I’m thinking, and I tend to be a little blunt. This is a character flaw, I guess, so maybe I should lie more?
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I say “like” too much. I also use “literally” incorrectly, and I have a weird fascination with the word adamant.
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? Painting. I am obsessed with art and would love to be good at it.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Being offered a book deal for I STOP SOMEWHERE. And my Gamerscore.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? A cat.
What is your most treasured possession? Photographs of the people and places that are gone from my life.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Losing a pet. The recent loss of my cat been very hard for me, because one day he didn’t feel like eating and within a month – even with $8,000 in treatment – he couldn’t walk. That helplessness, and that inability to explain and apologize, makes you feel unbearably guilty.
What do you most value in your friends? Trust and curiosity. It’s important I’m comfortable with them, and that I can rely on them. It’s also important we can talk about things and question the world, because I need to be intellectually stimulated.
Who are your favorite writers? I really love the classics: Wharton, Fitzgerald, the Brontes, Hemingway, Shelley, Keats, Shakespeare. For modern writers: Gillian Flynn, Tana French, Sara Gruen, Alice Sebold, Patrick Ness, Jo Knowles, Courtney Summers, Libba Bray, Jay Asher, Lauren Oliver, and Lauren Myracle.
Who is your hero of fiction? A fictional character or fiction writer? My hero as a writer is Hemingway, even if he and I would not get along in real life. I love the things he says about writing, and I love his brutal honesty. For a character, it’s Holden Caulfield, also for his honesty, or Jane Eyre for her spunk, or Lindsey Salmon in Lovely Bones for her ability to find good in tragedy.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Vincent van Gogh. I appreciate his passion for beauty, even when he saw the world in a way no one else did. I have a real soft spot for tragic people, because I think there’s real beauty in pain from fighting for something when no one thinks you should.
What is your motto? Our story is only one POV.
TE CARTER lives in New England and spends a lot of time reading, writing, and being a proud nerd. That means remaining 100 percent Team Lannister, debating the best companion (still going with Amy Pond), and telling anyone who will listen that The Walking Dead comic is superior to the show. Find TE Carter on her website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and tumblr.