Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Proust Questionnaire, with Robin Leblanc

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Robin Leblanc

If there's one public service that is guaranteed to earn a ticket to the Canadian section of heaven, it's promoting good beer. So clearly Robin Leblanc and Jordan St. John are doing the beer gods' work with their new book, The Ontario Craft Beer Guide (Dundurn Press).

Robin joins us on Open Book today to celebrate the publication of the guide, which gives beer lovers (from newbies to aficionados) a great introduction to local breweries. As craft beer explodes in popularity, Ontario residents are now spoiled for choice with over 200 breweries across the province, and the guide, complete with expert ratings, is a great place to start for those of us who want to add local brews to our summer enjoyment.

We get to know Robin through our version of the popular Proust Questionnaire, a personality quiz beloved by its famous namesake, which lets us connect you with writers in an up close and personal way.

She tells us about a historical villain whose misdeeds will keep you up at night, the trickiness of picking a favourite musician when you grow up in the music world, and shares a motto we love.

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What is your dream of happiness?
Good sleep, constant travel, warming fireplace, and a home to hang my hat on.

What is your idea of misery?
Stagnation.

Where would you like to live?
New York, Montreal, or Sheffield.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Honesty, kindness, and humour.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Honesty, kindness, and humour.

What is your chief characteristic?
I’m often quiet and like to listen.

What is your principal fault?
I berate myself far more than I should.

What is your greatest extravagance?
I like to buy the odd fountain pen now and then. Otherwise I like taking myself out for a nice meal every couple of weeks.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Their own self-hate.

What do you value most about your friends?
Their honesty and loyalty.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Cruelty to others. The reasons doesn’t really matter, but the one that I always gets to me is because it’s amusing. I detest bullying.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
My ability of self-deprecation. Sometimes it’s funny to do and I don’t mean anything by it, but there are quite a few times where I don’t give myself enough credit and actively berate myself.

What is your favourite virtue?
Transparent honesty. It’s refreshing to have a good knowledge of where everyone stands.

What is your favourite occupation?
That’s a tough one, because as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that even the most romanticized jobs (ESPECIALLY the most romanticized jobs, actually) are often fraught with their own very real struggles. With that in mind I’m going to have to stick with journalist or, if we go with what 4 year-old Robin thought, Ghostbuster.

What would you like to be?
Happy and at peace.

What is your favourite colour?
Dark Lilac.

What is your favourite flower?
Sunflower. For as long as I can remember I love those giant things. They add a wonderful level of brightness into a room.

What is your favourite bird?
I’m a sucker for Owls, in particular the Barn Owl or the Western Screech Owl.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
I can’t answer with just one, because I like historical figures for very different reasons. If I had to choose one though? Hm. Perhaps Nicola Tesla? Or maybe Julia Child? Virginia Woolf? Sun Tzu? Or perhaps even Genghis Khan? Gah, I can’t figure that one out.

What character in history do you most dislike?
History isn’t terribly short of monsters, and one such that I dislike would be H. H. Holmes. During the Chicago World Expo in 1893, Holmes built a hotel designed to be, essentially, a house of death, complete with trap doors and all. He admitted to killing about 27 people, but it’s believed his body count was more in the area of 200.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Hunter S. Thompson, Terry Pratchett, and Dashiell Hammett.

Who are your favourite poets?
Charles Bukowski and Tanya Davis.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Almost exclusively through comics. Big Barda, John Constantine, and Spider Jerusalem.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Hunter S. Thompson and my parents.

Who is your favourite painter?
Rembrandt.

Who is your favourite musician?
I grew up with family in the music business, so that’s an incredibly tough one. Tom Waits is a favourite that has remained throughout the years, though.

What is your favourite food?
Fish & Chips in this one place in Cleethorpes where my family live.

What is your favourite drink?
Well, considering I co-authored a book on beer, it certainly isn’t a Ramos Gin Fizz!

What are your favourite names?
Elijah, Gabriella, Humphrey, and Erika

What is it you most dislike?
As said before, cruelty for amusement or because it’s easier than being productive.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
I’d rather like to play the piano, but lack the ability to have both hands do entirely different things.

How do you want to die?
Well.

What is your current state of mind?
Tired, demoralized, hopeful.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
Touching a few lives with my silly words.

What is your motto?
“Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”


Robin Leblanc is a writer and photographer. As the owner of the award-winning craft beer site The Thirsty Wench and writer for Torontoist’s beer column, “Inherent Weisse,” she has appeared on TV, radio, and newspapers preaching the gospel of good beer. She lives in Toronto.

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