Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

The Proust Questionnaire, with Janet Hepburn

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Janet Hepburn

Janet Hepburn?s poetry has appeared in Room Magazine (2010, 2012); Carousel (2012); Existere Journal of Arts and Literature (2012); The Saving Bannister Poetry Anthology (2011); Arborealis, a Canadian Anthology of Poetry (2010) and Decabration 10th Anniversary Poetry Anthology (2010). She was selected to read on the Fringe Stage at Eden Mills 2012 Writers Festival and her poetry was shortlisted in the FreeFall 2011 Annual Poetry and Prose Contest. She has been a regular contributor to a regional weekly newspaper, writing personal life stories of passion and success. Her travel stories have been published online. Flee, Fly, Flown (Second Story Press) is her first published novel. Janet lives and works in Port Dover, a small town on the north shore of Lake Erie. For more information about Janet, please visit her website.

Janet?s novel Flee, Fly, Flown was officially published today. She will be reading and signing her book at her book launch in Port Dover, ON on March 30th, 2013. Please head over to Open Book?s Events page for further details.

In her answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Janet tells us about her greatest accomplishment, how she can live anywhere as long as there is a lake nearby and what her idea of happiness is.

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?
I dream of having more time to spend with the people close to me and freedom to spend time alone when I choose.

What is your idea of misery?
Loss of independence and ability through dementia.

Where would you like to live?
I could live anywhere that I was free to come and go. The geography doesn?t matter as long as there is a body of water nearby.

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

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

What is your chief characteristic?
Sympathy and compassion.

What is your principal fault?
Difficulty living in and enjoying the moment.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Shoes and books.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?

What do you value most about your friends?
Their persistence in staying in touch when I neglect to do so.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Arrogance and greed.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
I dislike my need to over-think, over-examine things instead of just accepting them. (Also that I always choose two or three answers when the question only asks for one.)

What is your favourite virtue?
Generosity of spirit.

What is your favourite occupation?

What would you like to be?
Full-time writer.

What is your favourite colour?
This depends on the day and my mood. Mostly red.

What is your favourite flower?
Ornamental poppy. I love the papery petals and intricate black centres, hairy foliage and seed pods after blooming.

What is your favourite bird?
Mourning dove.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Anne Michaels, Alice Munro, Miriam Toews, Chris Cleave.

Who are your favourite poets?
Anne Carson, Bronwyn Wallace, Maureen Hynes, Chris Banks.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Sherlock Holmes (love his power of observation and deduction) and Dora Rare from The Birth House by Ami McKay.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Health care workers and my husband.

Who is your favourite painter?
Marc Chagall (more famous) and Elizabeth Barrett-Milner (not as famous).

Who is your favourite musician?
Dar Williams and Serena Ryder.

What is your favourite food?
Anything with pastry and fruit.

What is your favourite drink?

What are your favourite names?
Again, this depends on the day and my mood. Today — Oliver and Madeline.

What is it you most dislike?
The feeling that I?ve hurt someone.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Musical talent — violin, piano, cello, guitar.

How do you want to die?
In the most benign way possible — in my sleep.

What is your current state of mind?
Relaxed, content.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
I am most proud of my children. Though I?m not sure I would consider them to be my ?accomplishment? exactly, as a small part of me that will remain behind, they are by far my best contribution to the world now and for the future.

What is your motto?
More a philosophy than a motto — remain as open and honest as possible.

For more information about Flee, Fly, Flown please visit the Second Story Press website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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

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