Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Joyce Grant

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Joyce Grant

Young readers first met Gabby back in 2012 in Joyce Grant's award-winning picture book, Gabby. The little redhead returns in her third adventure, Gabby Wonder Girl (Fitzhenry & Whiteside), wielding her magic letter book with the help of her heroic sidekick, Super Roy. Togethr Gabby and Roy set out to solve the mysterious of a strange photo they find in Gabby's backyard. With Jan Dolby's vibrant illustrations, this newest addition to the Gabby series is great fun for word lovers.

We're pleased to welcome Joyce to Open Book today to take our version of the Proust Quesitonnaire, where we get to know authors on a personal level.

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.

Joyce tells us about her favourite (and least favourite) occupation, the Canadian hero she admires and her annual motto tradition (we like next year's especially!).
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What is your dream of happiness?
Having a personal assistant.

What is your idea of misery?
Meetings.

Where would you like to live?
In a fancy hotel.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Respect for women.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Respect for herself.

What is your chief characteristic?
That I am nearly always governed by curiosity, emotion and craving.

What is your principal fault?
Virtually no sense of direction.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Buying things for my son.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Weakness.

What do you value most about your friends?
They give me the benefit of the doubt.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Anger.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
Fear.

What is your favourite virtue?
Open-mindedness.

What is your favourite occupation?
Writing. It’s also my least favourite occupation.

What would you like to be?
Immortal.

What is your favourite colour?
Soft, beigy, barely-yellow. It’s the colour of cream as it hits the espresso, before it’s completely blended. More yellow than sand, but with the same warmth. That’s my favourite colour.

What is your favourite flower?
Any flower that colour.

What is your favourite bird?
Any bird that colour.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Terry Fox. He didn't ask a committee or draw up a business plan — he just acted. He did what he could. And it worked; is still working, in fact. Amazing.

What character in history do you most dislike?
Hitler's the obvious choice, I suppose. Really, any leader with Hitlerian characteristics--racist, power-hungry, arrogant, manipulative, narcissistic, delusional. Those traits are bad enough, but when the person is also in power--they can drag so many people down.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
E. F. Benson, Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte.

Who are your favourite poets?
Leonard Cohen, Dr. Seuss.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Heathcliffe, Lucia.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My husband, Andrew.

Who is your favourite painter?
Artist Rocky Green is a Canadian treasure; I have dozens of his paintings and I'm still collecting them. And of course, Jan Dolby, who brought Gabby to life so perfectly. I love everything she draws, paints and sculpts.

Who is your favourite musician?
Glenn Gould, Leonard Cohen.

What is your favourite food?
I’m waiting for the day when we can just take a pill. Eating three times a day is ridiculous. I feel like I’m completely underqualified to feed myself (and sometimes others) three times a day!

What is your favourite drink?
Coffee. Full-bodied red wine. Gin and tonic. Water. It depends on the thirst.

What are your favourite names?
Claire, Greta, Bennett.

What is it you most dislike?
Racism, hatred, intolerance. I am completely flabbergasted and horrified by the notion of racism.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Drawing.

How do you want to die?
I don’t.

What is your current state of mind?
Unsettled.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
My son.

What is your motto?
Every January I choose a motto for the year. Last year it was “Go for it.” I would take on just about any new project or challenge. Then I realized I had a lot of projects half-finished, so this year it’s “Wrap it up!” Next year it’s going to be “Pay me!”


Joyce Grant is a freelance journalist actively involved in literacy. She is the editor of Getting Kids Reading, a non-profit website that works to stimulate a love of reading in children.

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