Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Julie Wilson

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The Proust Questionnaire, with Julie Wilson

Julie Wilson is the literary voyeur behind, founder of Book Madam & Associates and co-founder of The Advent Book Blog. Follow her on Twitter at @BookMadam and @SeenReading. Her first book, Truly, Madly, Deadly: the Unofficial True Blood Companion, publishes this June with ECW Press under the pen name Becca Wilcott.

In her answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Julie lets us in on her dream of happiness, her greatest extravagance, her favourite writers and more.

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" personality.


What is your dream of happiness?
You know when you get a really good turn of a spinning top? No bobbing and weaving, or even a hum. It just settles into its groove like you had no part in it.

What is your idea of misery?

Where would you like to live?
In the woods, close to water, with a time capsule out back.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
I like men who don't remind me I'm a woman.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
I need women who remind me I'm a woman.

What is your chief characteristic?
I hear what you're saying.

What is your principal fault?
Thinking that mind trumps body.

What is your greatest extravagance?
An open road that leads to outdoor cooking and no deadlines.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Having to reschedule.

What do you value most about your friends?
How they make me laugh and actually take me seriously every time I say, “Oh, I have an idea!”

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
People who have difficulty standing up for the people in their lives.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
Chasing after joy, rather than simply feeling it.

What is your favourite virtue?
Consistency of character.

What is your favourite occupation?

What would you like to be?
International Woman of Mystery.

What is your favourite colour?

What is your favourite flower?
Yellow/orange ones.

What is your favourite bird?
Buster the Hummingbird.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Someone who will likely never be remembered.

What character in history do you most dislike?
I wish Homer would stop choking Bart.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Colum McCann, Lisa Moore, Alice Munro, Barbara Gowdy, Lydia Davis, and a host of others I can't recite off the top of my head. I forget what I've read, almost as soon as I've read it.

Who are your favourite poets?
Susan Holbrook, Dani Couture, Paul Vermeersch, Kevin Connolly, Adam Sol, Karen Solie, Lynn Crosbie. To begin.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
I don't know if I'd feel the same now, but for a long time it was Joan Canary from Barbara Gowdy's Mister Sandman.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Single parents, and my partner, who faces writing with less preciousness and far more joy than most.

Who is your favourite painter?
The ones who can do the corners where the wall meets the ceiling without the brush strokes showing. Incredible!

Who is your favourite musician?
If based on lifetime voluntary purchases, it would appear to be Enya. I even have a 12” of Storms in Africa. That said, I enjoy a wide, wide range of musicians.

What is your favourite food?
Roasted brussels sprouts are pretty tasty. But burritos are probably nature's most perfect food. I can't function around a pita pocket, but cram anything into a burrito and I'm good to go. There's also nothing like a good grilled cheese. Walnut/raisin bread with old cheddar and a slice of Granny Smith apple? Hea-ven.

What is your favourite drink?
Americano. Water from certain taps is very refreshing. Can't say which ones. It's ever a mystery. A well-poured Guinness or an ice cold Corona after a long, long walk on a sunny day.

What are your favourite names?
Gregg with three Gs. Dani when coupled with Couture. (Totally great name!) Alice.

What is it you most dislike?
Lack of kitchen counter space. People who can't walk in single file on sidewalks. Sharing umbrellas. Wallpapering. Wind.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
An innate ability to play many instruments.

How do you want to die?
Painlessly would be cool. And in a way that doesn't freak out the person who finds me.

What is your current state of mind?
Optimistic. More or less.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Listening to a good friend when she told me that success is one per cent talent and ninety-nine per cent hard work.

What is your motto?
All play means something. (Johan Huizinga)


Check back for more Proust Questionnaires with Canada's literati in this latest series of interviews on Open Book.

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