Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Charis Marsh

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Charis Marsh

Charis Marsh is the author of the Ballet School Confidential series for young adults. The latest instalment is You're So Sweet (Dundurn), which follows the teens at the fictional Vancouver International Ballet Academy while they deal with the pressure, excitement and cut throat competition of the professional dance world.

In her answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Charis tells Open Book about the fictional profession she admires, her healthy indulgence and the musical tastes she shares with her characters.

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?
To be happy.

What is your idea of misery?
Isolation, depression, being falsely accused, being tortured, losing people that you love, pain.

Where would you like to live?
I want to try living in all sorts of places, but Vancouver and the Gulf Islands are where I call home.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
A sense of humor, willingness to act like an idiot, honesty, maturity, kindness, passion for life.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Same as above.

What is your chief characteristic?
I had to ask about this one. The verdict is “emotional.”

What is your principal fault?
I am easily distracted, frequently by my own imagination.

What is your greatest extravagance?
I buy healthy food.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Loudness, people who overstep boundaries — it depends on the person.

What do you value most about your friends?
They make me laugh, hug me when I’m sad and make me drink wine when I think it tastes bad.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
People who put other people down to feel better about themselves, people who lie maliciously, people who drive drunk.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
Occasionally I am clueless. Also, I am very forgetful.

What is your favourite virtue?
Modesty, but only when paired with inner confidence.

What is your favourite occupation?
Watcher (Buffy the Vampire Slayer style). I wouldn’t want to be one, but I have so much respect for the profession.

What would you like to be?
Charming. Or a witch.

What is your favourite colour?
I like combinations. But blue is a perennial favorite.

What is your favourite flower?
The sweet pea, because it is my birth flower.

What is your favourite bird?
Seagull.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Oscar Wilde when I feel world weary, William the Conqueror when I feel inspired and Lucrezia Borgia when I feel brave.

What character in history do you most dislike?
All charismatic short men that shouted a lot and valued brutality.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
It changes every day. Today I began reading George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series, and I am quite enjoying it.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Hermione, Huckleberry Finn, Mathilda and Peter Pan.

Who are your heroes in real life?
People who reach for their dreams but never forget to help others.

Who is your favourite painter?
Monet, Van Gogh, Emily Carr. I clearly do not pay much attention to the names of modern artists. I must remedy this.

Who is your favourite musician?
Oh man, I can’t do this, I have too many favourites. I’ll pick Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev because they wrote most of the music that my Ballet School Confidential characters dance to.

What is your favourite food?
Dark chocolate, espresso beans, blueberries.

What is your favourite drink?
Fruit smoothies, coffee.

What are your favourite names?
I can’t tell you, I’m saving them for my children.

What is it you most dislike?
Violence, brutality.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Something musical.

How do you want to die?
Quietly, painlessly, with all of my affairs in order and numerous accomplishments to my name.

What is your current state of mind?
Peaceful.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
I usually try to do the right thing.

What is your motto?
Hakuna matata.


Charis Marsh has been dancing for as long as she can remember and loves the people she meets in the dance world almost as much as the dancing. She has performed in many productions, including The Nutcracker. Her previous novel in the Ballet School Confidential series is Love You, Hate You. She lives in Vancouver.

For more information about You're So Sweet please visit the Dundurn 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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