Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

The Proust Questionnaire, with Valerie Sherrard

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Valerie Sherrard

Valerie Sherrard is the author of The Glory Wind (Fitzhenry & Whiteside), winner of the 2011 Ann Conner Brimer Award for Children?s Literature and the 2011 Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People.

In her answers to the Proust Questionnaire, Valerie tells Open Book about the appeal of Miramichi, her feelings about waiting tables and her personal motto.

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" personality.


What is your dream of happiness?
I think happiness is simply contentment. Not that we shouldn?t have goals, but that we should be as satisfied on the journey as we are at the destination.

What is your idea of misery?
A world where selfishness dominates.

Where would you like to live?
Right here! Miramichi, NB is a beautiful place and I'm happy to call it home. I would love to be able to travel more, though.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?
Kindness, courage, tolerance, intelligence.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?
Kindness, courage, tolerance, intelligence.

What is your chief characteristic?
I like to laugh.

What is your principal fault?
I tend to procrastinate.

What is your greatest extravagance?
I thought and thought about this and couldn?t come up with anything. Apparently, I am either a little boring or extraordinarily practical.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?
Those that are not deliberate.

What do you value most about your friends?
The exchange of respect and love.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?
Any form of infidelity or betrayal.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?
Being judgmental.

What is your favourite virtue?

What is your favourite occupation?
Being a writer. But I also genuinely loved working as a waitress when I was young.

What would you like to be?
Slim. I have struggled with a weight problem my whole life.

What is your favourite colour?
Cornflower blue.

What is your favourite flower?
The Jerusalem Artichoke.

What is your favourite bird?
The Cedar Waxwing.

What historical figure do you admire the most?
Jesus of Nazareth.

What character in history do you most dislike?
Simon Legree because he epitomizes selfishness, cruelty and intolerance.

Who are your favourite prose authors?
Booth Tarkington, Jane Austen, Mark Twain — it is difficult to stop once one begins to make a list that could stretch on for many pages, but these three usually seem to be my starting point.

Who are your favourite poets?
Emily Dickinson, Alfred Noyes, Alfred Lord Tennyson

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?
Sydney Henderson from David Adams Richards? Mercy Among the Children is the only true hero I have ever encountered in fiction.

Who are your heroes in real life?
My husband and my father, because each, in his own way, has steadfastly had the courage to follow his convictions.

Who is your favourite painter?
Cornelius Krieghoff.

Who is your favourite musician?
Roman Dane.

What is your favourite food?

What is your favourite drink?

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
Katherine, Bethany, Christopher.

What is it you most dislike?
The unknown.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?
A photographic memory.

How do you want to die?

What is your current state of mind?
More than anything, I am grateful for the many blessings in my life — husband, children, family, friends. This is absolutely the richest place I?ve ever been in.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
The fine adults my children became, although truthfully, this is partly to my credit and partly in spite of me.

What is your motto?
Never give up.


For more information about The Glory Wind, please visit the Fitzhenry & Whiteside 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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