Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Patricia Storms

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The Proust Questionnaire, with Patricia Storms

Patricia Storms is an award-winning cartoonist, as well as an illustrator and author of picture books and humorous gift books. Some of her illustrated titles include 13 Ghosts of Halloween, Good Granny/Bad Granny and Be a Writing Superstar. Her newest picture book, The Pirate and the Penguin, was published September 2009 by Owlkids Books. She can be found online at and In her answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Patricia tells us her dream of happiness, her current state of mind, her motto and more.

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?
A loving marriage, fulfilling work, and a cosy house full of books and cats. I’m living the dream, baby!

What is your idea of misery?
Mind-numbing, soul-destroying work.

Where would you like to live?
Where I am right now is just peachy.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
If he surrounds himself with funny, intelligent women.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Passion, wit, creativity, intelligence, and the ability to pick a really good restaurant.

What is your chief characteristic?
Though not always evident, I am a hopeless romantic.

What is your principal fault?
Apparently I talk too much. I’ve even been told this in Inuktitut.

What is your greatest extravagance?
I buy far too many books, in spite of the fact that my husband works for the Toronto Public Library.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?

What do you value most about your friends?
That most of the time they laugh with me, as opposed to at me.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Apathy, arrogance, affectation.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
My crippling self-doubt.

What is your favourite virtue?

What is your favourite occupation?
I’m rather partial to breathing.

What would you like to be?
Less self-critical.

What is your favourite colour?

What is your favourite flower?

What is your favourite bird?
Penguin, of course!

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Johannes Gutenberg was pretty cool.

What character in history do you most dislike?
It’s too hard to pick just one megalomaniacal psychotic despot, never mind all the nutjobs who have killed, suppressed freedom or destroyed culture in the name of religion.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Ian McEwan, Zadie Smith, Margaret Atwood, Shirley Jackson, Patricia Highsmith, Donna Tartt, Mo Willems.

Who are your favourite poets?
Thomas Hardy, Odgen Nash, Dorothy Parker, Philip Larkin.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Charlie Brown, Zonker Harris, Calvin and Hobbes, Harriet Dufresne from "The Little Friend."

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

Who is your favourite painter?
I don’t have a favourite painter, but Alexander Calder is one of my favourite artists.

Who is your favourite musician?
Mozart and Beethoven are pretty awesome.

What is your favourite food?
It’s a toss up between Jarlsberg cheese and crème brûlée.

What is your favourite drink?
I will go to great lengths for a really good cup of coffee.

What are your favourite names?
Hamish, Maggie, Woody, Arlo and Max. All names of previous and existing cats.

What is it you most dislike?
People who insist on wearing their Bluetooths everywhere, jerks who drive Hummers and neo-conservative bile.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
The ability to sing and play acoustic guitar, as well as travel back in time to some coffee house in the '60s.

How do you want to die?
Making passionate love to my husband in a lush meadow at dawn, with the final movement from Beethoven’s 9th playing in the background. Failing that, painlessly in my sleep sounds good.

What is your current state of mind?

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Being married for 15 years to a man who has seen me at my absolute worst yet still chooses to have coffee with me every morning is pretty impressive, I think. But perhaps that is his accomplishment, not mine.

What is your motto?
I’m rather partial to what Dorothy Parker said, “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”


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

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JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications


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