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: Tracey Neithercott, author of the YA magical realism novel, GRAY WOLF ISLAND (Knopf/Random House, fall 2017).
What is your idea of perfect happiness? A fall day, a macoun apple, no work, and a good book.
What is your greatest fear? Bugs, but especially spiders.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I have a hard time forgiving when I’ve been wronged.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Arrogance.
Which living person do you most admire? My husband. He has a mind-boggling amount of patience.
What is your greatest extravagance? Books and skin-care products. I’m a bit of a junkie.
What is your current state of mind? Relieved. After a really terrible week with my chronic illness, today is a good day.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Patience. But I probably only think that because I have none at all.
On what occasion do you lie? To spare someone’s feelings. Also, I’ll let loose some tall tales to see if my husband is really paying attention.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “One more chapter.” What can I say? I am very much a night owl.
Besides writing, which talent would you most like to have? I’d like to have any musical ability at all. I’d even take being able to play Chopsticks on the piano.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? My debut novel.
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? I’d want to be a puppy. Not only would I be adorable and lovable, but I’d have the most relaxing life. “Next Tuesday? I believe I can fit you in between my third nap and a rousing game of fetch.”
What is your most treasured possession? In the past, I’d say my photos. But those are on the cloud now, so I’ll go with my laptop. There’s a lot of writing work on there.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Seeing a spider, being too slow to kill it, then watching it disappear somewhere.
What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty and a sense of humor.
Who are your favorite writers? Melina Marchetta and Jandy Nelson top the list.
Who is your hero of fiction? Owen Meany from John Irvin’s A Prayer for Owen Meany.
Which historical figure do you most identify with? Nelly Bly, a fellow journalist with a case of wanderlust. Though she was about a million times more exciting than I am.
What is your motto? Always sleep in. Morning is my nemesis.
TRACEY NEITHERCOTT is a magazine journalist by day, a YA author by night, and a voracious reader always. (The rest of the time, she’s binging on shows like Stranger Things and staying up way too late to do it.) She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, who suggests improving her novels by adding Star Wars characters. Find her on her website, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and Goodreads.