Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Robert Priest

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Robert Priest

Robert Priest's Spell Crossed series launched with The Paper Sword last summer. Now fantasy lovers can rejoice, as he returns this spring with the next instalment, Second Kiss (Dundurn Press). Young Saheli and Xemion are back, but have been separated by a crossed spell. War is on the horizon, and two friends have little time to find each other. Drawing comparisons to The Chronicles of Narnia, the Spell Crossed series is a modern classic.

Today Robert appears on Open Book to take on our favourite personality-revealing quiz, the Proust Questionnaire. He tells us about his favourite Narnia hero, a fantastical power he'd like to possess and a personal motto we can happily second.

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 would be happy with the end of poverty on earth. I believe this is possible.

What is your idea of misery?

Misery is deprivation on the material level — as in poverty. Or unprotectedness as when one is without family, a people, a country. When one is cut out from humanity without help or love. There is also deep misery in certain kinds of mental illness.

Where would you like to live?

California. New York City. England.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?

Compassion. Wisdom. Skill. Loyalty. Open heartedness. Imagination.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?

Compassion. Wisdom. Skill. Loyalty. Open heartedness. Imagination.

What is your chief characteristic?

Imagination.

What do you value most about your friends?

Loyalty. Compassion. Service. Talent.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?

Snobbery, prolixity, callousness, uncritical thinking, bullying, defensiveness, shallowness, stupidity.

What is your favourite virtue?

Compassion.

What is your favourite occupation?

Poetry.

What would you like to be?

A writer with a huge audience.

What historical figure do you admire the most?

Gandhi and Shakespeare.

What character in history do you most dislike?

Hitler.

Who are your favourite poets?

Arthur Rimaud, Shakespeare, Neruda, Mayakovsky, John Lennon Bob Marley.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?

Reepicheep from The Voyage of the Dawntreader.

Who are your heroes in real life?

Terri Fox, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mohamed Ali, Louis Armstrong, Marsha Kirzner.

Who is your favourite musician?

Bob Marley.

What is your favourite food?

Akee and salt fish.

What is your favourite drink?

Water, coffee.

What are your favourite names?

Jane, Reepicheep.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?

The ability to fly. Melody.

How do you want to die?

I don't.

What is your current state of mind?

Positive, loving.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Writing my books and songs.

What is your motto?

It is better to have loved and loved and loved and loved…


Robert Priest has written plays, songs, picture books, and poetry for young readers. His critically acclaimed fantasy novel Knights of the Endless Day was compared to the Narnia Chronicles. The first two novels in the Spell Crossed series are The Paper Sword and Second Kiss. He lives in Toronto.

Check out all the Proust Questionnaire interviews in our archives.

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