Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Chantel Guertin

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Chantel Guertin

In Chantel Guertin's third book and first offering for young adults, The Rule of Thirds (ECW Press), Pippa Greene never goes anywhere without her camera. As the title suggests, Pippa is serious about her craft — her love affair with photography is no teenager flirtation, and she plans to go right to the top with it, and take her friend Dace, an aspiring model, with her.

Pippa navigates art, relationships and teenage entanglements with all the wit and verve Chantel brought to her previous novels, Stuck in Downward Dog and Love Struck. Today Chantel joins us to answer the Proust Questionnaire. In her responses, she tells Open Book about knowledgable friends, why she and birds are no longer on good terms and a final scene that any True Blood or Buffy fan would appreciate.

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?

Feeling loved. And laying in the grass, reading a good book.

What is your idea of misery?


Where would you like to live?

On an island. With a full-stocked general store in case I ran out of books, wine or candy.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?

Honesty, sense of humour, ability to make me laugh, drive and being romantic.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?

Nice hair. Kidding. Kind of.

What is your principal fault?

I worry that I worry too much.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Weekly manicures.

What do you value most about your friends?

That they seem to have so much knowledge about things I should know and care about but don’t, and that they willingly impart it to me.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?

That I overanalyze everything.

What is your favourite occupation?

Author! Also, being a cashier seems like it would be strangely satisfying. And French maid (minus actual housework).

What is your favourite bird?

I went on a safari in South Africa and one woman insisted the driver stop for every bird. I sat on a plane for 18 hours to see a lion, not a bird. Birds are dead to me.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?

Nancy Drew, That Scatterbrain Booky, Encyclopedia Brown, Esther Greenwood, Ramona Quimby, Sally J Freedman, Margaret Simon.

Who is your favourite painter?

Greg, the guy who paints anything I need painted in our house. He has changed my life.

Who is your favourite musician?

Foster the People.

What is your favourite food?

Cheese. To accompany the answer to question below.

What is your favourite drink?


What are your favourite names?

I’m pretty fond of the names my characters have in The Rule of Thirds — I should, I picked them! Philadelphia “Pippa” Greene, Dace, Vivs, Gemma & Emma the twins, Asher, Dylan, Cole, Ben.

In real life, I also really like my cat’s name, Mr. Baz.

What is it you most dislike?

Mixing sweet and savoury items.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?

Focus. Multi-tasking seems to be super-overrated at getting anything done.

How do you want to die?

Ideally, by being bitten my fiancé, who would’ve already been turned into a vampire, so then we’ll live forever. Which means that I should really get a Chanel handbag now — it’s going to be super vintage by the time I’m 1,842 years old.

What is your current state of mind?

Consumed by the chocolate chip cookie dough on the couner, waiting for me to bake.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Publishing a novel. I wanted to do it before I died, so I feel way ahead of the game.

What is your motto?

Success is 99% hard work and 1% luck.

Chantel Guertin is the bestselling author of Stuck in Downward Dog and Love Struck. She’s a beauty expert on The Marilyn Denis Show and editor-at-large at The Kit. Her work has been published in numerous publications including ELLE Canada, FASHION, Maclean’s, TV Guide, The National Post, Best Health, Reader’s Digest, Tribute, Canadian Family,,, and She lives in Toronto, Ontario.

For more information about The Rule of Thirds please visit the ECW Press 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.

Related item from our archives

JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications


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