Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, Halloween Edition with Liisa Ladouceur

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Liisa Ladouceur

If you're more into the trick than the treat, you won't want to miss Goth journalist Liisa Ladouceur's Encyclopedia Gothica (ECW Press). Liisa has been featured as a Goth expert on television numerous times, including appearances on MuchMusic, CTV and Newsworld, and she currently works as the music columnist for Rue Morgue magazine, the world’s leading publication on horror in art and culture.

In her answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Liisa tells Open Book about her favourite drink, her dueling mottos and her wait for Andromeda.

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?
I believe happiness is fleeting and random, it is not a state to be chased, or you are doomed to disappointment. That said, the happiest I’ve ever been is dancing to live Daft Punk in the desert under a bright Halloween moon (while wearing a devil costume) with someone I love.

What is your idea of misery?
A blank page.

Where would you like to live?
In a castle by the sea, with a turret for a library, secret passageways, and a grand piano for visiting musicians. Or in a hammock in Mexico. Or right where I am, in a Parkdale apartment walking distance from a great lake, a public library and the best roti in town.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Creativity, sincerity, knowing how to tie a tie (and a good knot).

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
A sense of adventure, belief in her own beauty, a shameless shoe collection.

What is your chief characteristic?
Independence.

What is your principal fault?
Impatience.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Staying up all night, even if it means turning down paying work so I can sleep in the next day.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Selfishness, bad taste in music.

What do you value most about your friends?
They keep me from walking head-first into traffic.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Apathy.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
Being overweight, even if it’s a great excuse to wear corsets all the time.

What is your favourite virtue?
Knowledge.

What is your favourite occupation?
Writer. Because you don’t need anyone’s permission.

What would you like to be?
Immortal. Barring that, respected in life and even more in death.

What is your favourite colour?
Black. As I write in my Encyclopedia under that entry, it is “The colour of night, the absence of light, the heart of a Goth. All of our lives, we are asked, ‘Why do you wear all black?’ Maybe we’re in mourning for the world. Maybe, like Einstein, we like a wardrobe that’s easy to match. It’s kind of like asking a unicorn why it has a horn. Some things just are.”

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Alive: Margaret Atwood, Tony Burgess, Neil Gaiman. Dead: Edgar Allan Poe.

Who are your favourite poets?
Alive: Margaret Atwood, Christian Bök, Anne Carson. Dead: Charles Baudelaide, Pablo Neruda, Garcia Lorca. Their words make other worlds possible.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Batman, Ellen Ripley.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My mother and my grandparents.

Who is your favourite painter?
Pierre Soulages. Black-on-black canvases, outrenoir, as he calls it, is übergoth.

Who is your favourite musician?
Impossible to choose. I would need more pages than the Pope has piety to list them all. But more than any other living singer, songwriter, performer, the one whose music I feel most powerfully is Nick Cave.

What is your favourite food?
Whatever I am tasting for the first time, especially on the streets of a new city. Cactus tacos in the D.F. Koshari in Cairo. Or a farm fresh Ontario strawberry.

What is your favourite drink?
Water. (I bet you’re surprised I didn’t say blood.)

What are your favourite names?
I have been waiting a long time to meet someone named Andromeda.

What is it you most dislike?
People who don’t recycle, irony in art.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
The ability to write music.

How do you want to die?
With enough notice to write my own obituary and tombstone.

What is your current state of mind?
Melancholy.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Making a living as a writer of one kind or another for more than 20 years.

What is your motto?
I have two, both tattooed: “In obscurum” and “Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.” That might seem contradictory, but the Goth’s relationship with darkness is rather complex, isn’t it?
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For more information about Encyclopedia Gothica, please visit the ECW Press website.

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

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

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