The Proust Questionnaire, with Kim Thompson
Kim Thompson's debut novel is the young adult fantasy, Eldritch Manor (Dundurn), which follows 12 year-old Willa into the titular manor. Inside, Willa discover a retirement home for mythical creatures, including a fairy, a centaur and a mermaid — which turns out to be just the beginning of her adventure.
In her answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Kim tells Open Book about telephonophobia, the bird with the cheerful head and her two very different mottos.
The Proust Questionnaire was not invented by Marcel Proust, but it was a much loved game by the French author and many of his contemporaries. The idea behind the questionnaire is that the answers are supposed to reveal the respondent's "true" nature.
What is your dream of happiness?
Swimming in warm water as the sun sets with a towel and gin and tonic waiting on the shore. Just before a dinner party with friends.
What is your idea of misery?
Leaving my work in an office cubicle, having missed the sunset entirely because it’s winter time, and going home in the dark.
Where would you like to live?
In the woods on the shore of a lake... my very own lake!
What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Direct, reliable, thoughtful, sense of humour, smarts.
What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Same as above!
What is your chief characteristic?
What is your principal fault?
An irrational fear of phoning people.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I’m too cheap for extravagances!
What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Gullibility and confusion.
What do you value most about your friends?
Warmth, generosity and wit.
What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
How much I enjoy complaining.
What is your favourite virtue?
The ability to be happy.
What is your favourite occupation?
What would you like to be?
Someone who does a lot of things, and is always kind.
What is your favourite colour?
Deep cranberry red.
What is your favourite flower?
Lily of the valley.
What is your favourite bird?
The kingfisher, with that big cheerful head.
What historical figure do you admire the most?
I can only pick one??!! Daniel Ellsburg, Helen Keller, Rachel Carson, Tommy Douglas...
What character in history do you most dislike?
Who are your favourite prose authors?
Jane Austen, Tom Wolfe, Roald Dahl, Kurt Vonnegut.
Who are your favourite poets?
Wallace Stevens, Bob Dylan, Dr. Seuss.
Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Peter Pan, Bilbo Baggins, d’Artagnan, Emma Woodhouse.
Who are your heroes in real life?
My daughter, Stephen Lewis, Pete Seeger.
Who is your favourite painter?
Paul Klee, Emily Carr, Piero della Francesca, Romaire Bearden.
Who is your favourite musician?
Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Blossom Dearie, Fats Waller, Carl Stalling, Ella Fitzgerald.
What is your favourite food?
Lemon meringue pie.
What is your favourite drink?
What are your favourite names?
Rosmer, Taffeta, Credenza
What is it you most dislike?
Conflict. Noise. Cruelty.
What natural talent would you most like to possess?
The ability to play music by ear and improvise!
How do you want to die?
In a state of being good and ready, of incredible old age.
What is your current state of mind?
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
My daughter. (She deserves the real credit, but I did start her off.)
What is your motto?
Tempus edax rerum — time, devourer of all things.
Or here’s a more helpful one: WWDSD? (What Would Dr. Seuss Do?)
Check out all the Proust Questionnaire interviews in our archives.