Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Nicolas Billon

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Nicolas Billon

Fault Lines (Coach House Books) collects three plays by Nicolas Billon: Greenland, Iceland and Faroe Islands. From banking crises to whale hunts, the plays feature Nicolas' dark humour, wit and keen insights. His writing has garnered wide praise, with endorsements ranging from The Toronto Star to Atom Egoyan.

In his answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Nicolas tells Open Book about his watery extravagance, the dystopian writer he admires and his motto (courtesy of Hans Arp) on how to become a writer.

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.

For more from Nicolas, you can also see his play The Iceland, which is currently on at Factory Theatre.

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What is your dream of happiness?
A home, love and the time to write.

What is your idea of misery?
Slavery.

Where would you like to live?
By the ocean.

What qualities do you admire most in a man
Vulnerability.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman
Wit.

What is your chief characteristic?
Rigour.

What is your principal fault?
Perfectionism.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Long showers.

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

What do you value most about your friends?
Generosity.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Unscrupulousness.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
Laziness.

What is your favourite virtue?
Compassion.

What is your favourite occupation?
Reading.

What would you like to be?
A writer (hurray!).

What is your favourite colour?
Cerulean blue.

What is your favourite flower?
The calla lily.

What is your favourite bird?
The owl.

What historical figure do you admire the most
George Orwell.

What character in history do you most dislike
Tyrants.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Conrad, McEwan, Salinger.

Who are your favourite poets?
Homer, Dante.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Dr Bernard Rieux, Charles Marlow.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Chris Hedges, Arundhati Roy.

Who is your favourite painter?
Edward Hopper.

Who is your favourite musician?
Arvo Pärt.

What is your favourite food?
French baguette & cheese.

What is your favourite drink?
Dark beers.

What are your favourite names?
Sarah, Michael.

What is it you most dislike?
Small-mindedness.

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

How do you want to die?
Swiftly.

What is your current state of mind?
Nomadic.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
My friends.

What is your motto?
“C’est en écrivant qu’on devient écrevisse.” (Hans Arp).


Nicolas Billon's plays and translations have been produced at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Soulpepper Theatre, Canadian Stage and Théâtre d’Aujourd'hui. Voted one of the Top 10 Theatre Artists of 2009 by Toronto's NOW Magazine, Nicolas also writes for film.

For more information about Fault Lines please visit the Coach House 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.

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JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications

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