The Proust Questionnaire, with Sophie B. Watson

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Sophie B. Watson

Sophie B. Watson is the author of Cadillac Couches (Brindle & Glass), a road novel that covers half the country, indie rock and broken hearts.

In her answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Sophie tells Open Book about her elopement bouquet, the politics of hair and her favourite heroes both between the covers and beyond.

For more on Cadillac Couches, check out Open Book's Video of the Week, which is the book trailer for Sophie's novel.

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.

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What is your dream of happiness?
In my happiest dream, I was swimming on top of a large, joyous turtle plunging in and out of the water in a sparkling river on a sunny day.

What is your idea of misery?
Not having a creative project on the go or even the dream of one.

Where would you like to live?
On a seafront, near friends, with a verandah, couch swing and a golden retriever.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Kindness. Good taste in films, books and music. Wanderlust. Having a passionate vocation. And as Hawksley Workman sings, dancing and singing are about sexual confidence…

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Might. Oumph. Chutzpah. Having a passionate vocation.

What is your chief characteristic?
Boundless curiosity in people and life.

What is your principal fault?
Being a bit of a metaphorical passenger, happy to let others drive. Too busy daydreaming.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Spending a vast amount of time dreaming on cadillac couches and living beyond my means.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Neurotic worrying. Hunter S. style hedonism. Misanthropy. Crotchetyness.

What do you value most about your friends?
Inspiration. Joie de vivre. Introducing me to new things, like ginger or sushi or Nicaraguan rebels songs. Insight.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Close mindedness and inability to self-edit.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
Overindulgent in every way.

What is your favourite virtue?
Compassion.

What is your favourite occupation?
Reading-Swimming-Writing-Loving.

What would you like to be?
If not a writer, a singer songwriter, a marine biologist or a midwife.

What is your favourite colour?
All kinds of blue. The blue of Crater Lake in Oregon is a lovely one.

What is your favourite flower?
Ranunculus. My elopement bouquet.

What is your favourite bird?
Toss up between hummingbirds and pelicans.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Trudeau for his bilingualism and multicultural policies.

What character in history do you most dislike?
The inventor of sadistic high heels.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Miriam Toews, Hanif Kureishi, AL Kennedy, George Elliot, Roger Deakin, Cheryl Strayed, J.M. Coetzee, Richard Ford, Scott Spencer, Nathalie Goldberg, David Sedaris, Toni Morrisson, John Steinbeck, Pat Barker.

Who are your favourite poets?
Sharon Olds, Baudelaire, Keats, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Hawksley Workman.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Stingo (Sophie’s Choice, William Styron)
Dr. Rivers (Regeneration, Pat Barker)
Grady Tripp (The Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon)
Fielding (Colony of Unrequited Dreams, Wayne Johnston)
Little Dorrit (Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens)

Who are your heroes in real life?
Bob Geldof, Lorraine Swift, Jacques Cousteau, David McSavage, my husband.

Who is your favourite painter?
Tomas Watson.

Who is your favourite musician?
If I have to choose just one: Elvis Costello.

What is your favourite food?
All. Chocolate. French. Asian. Mexican. Junk. Italian. Japanese. Greek.

What is your favourite drink?
Champagne.

What are your favourite names?
Tallulah, Django, Emily, Zöe, Arlo, Ezra, Clotilde, Thierry.

What is it you most dislike?
The pornification of normal, healthy and hairy sexuality, and the expectation placed on girls to be hairless, even on their arms!

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Playing music by ear.

How do you want to die?
I don’t want to die until I’m ready.

What is your current state of mind?
Scattered and grateful, inspired and worried.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Achieving goals despite copious amounts of noodling. And of course giving birth was pretty damn awesome too!

What is your motto?
The turtle gets there eventually!


Sophie B. Watson is an award-winning freelance writer who has been published in several magazines. She holds a degree in English and French literature from the University of Alberta as well as a master’s in creative writing from Bath Spa University. She has been a library page, a waitress, a substitute DJ, a bookseller, a freelance journalist covering development stories in Nicaragua and Uganda and, most recently, the editor of Cork University Press. Cadillac Couches is Sophie’s first novel. She currently lives in Dublin with her husband and two monkeys.

For more information about Cadillac Couches please visit the Brindle & Glass website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Check out all the Proust Questionnaire interviews in our archives.

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