Shane Peacock takes the Laferrière Questionnaire
The author of the award-winning "Boy Sherlock Holmes" series submits to our sleuthing, courtesy of Canadian author Dany Laferrière.
About the Laferrière Questionnaire: We asked writer Dany Laferrière to reinterpret the Proust Questionnaire for the 21st century. He put together 20 questions that shine a light on who we really are, both as writers and as individuals.
1. If you were Alice, would you rather stay in Wonderland on the other side of the mirror, or come back to the real world to tell your story?
I think I'd rather come back. I've been in Wonderland many times. I used to be able to handle staying there as a younger person, but artists need to spend SOME time in the real world ... it's better for our health.
2. If your home were on fire, what prized keepsake would you grab on your way out?
My wife and children, of course, but after that it would be my computer files. I couldn't bear to lose anything I was working on.
3. What childhood fear do you still have as an adult?
Not getting things done. I used to worry that nothing was ever complete ... and I still think that way. I sometimes dream about having to go back to high school to finish things.
4. Would it be okay to have a miserable childhood if that were a prerequisite for becoming a writer?
Yes, although, that's easy to say. I had a great childhood. But Dickens created some of the greatest literary art the world has known almost solely because of a lousy childhood and there are many other examples.
5. Do you wake up at night to read or write?
No. I try to have my antenna up all the time that I am awake, searching for ideas. But I really don't create anything unless I am in my chair at my desk. When I'm sleeping ... I try to sleep.
6. Do you feel anxious or excited when you start to write?
Absolutely. I used to play many sports and I remember what it was like "getting up" for a game. I do that when I write. I have to write about things that I am VERY passionate about, and I try to work my excitement into almost a sort of internal fever pitch.
7. Does darkness soothe you or frighten you?
8. Do you tend to hang on to a thousand little scraps of paper, or do you regularly clean out your drawers?
I tend to hang on to many dozens of scraps of paper.
9. Which animal would you rather be: a cat or a dog?
Definitely a dog. The world would be much better off with fewer people who want to be cats.
10. Does love dry up your creative juices or make them flow faster?
Love ALWAYS does good things.
11. Do you remember your dreams?
Yes and no. I remember some. Most of them, though appearing to be fascinating at the time, are likely highly forgettable and are forgotten for good reason. But there are a few that linger, and matter.
12. What's your favourite colour?
Red. Orange is second.
13. What's your favourite season?
14. Does pressure motivate you?
Yes, it does, though I'm learning that it shouldn't. I am trying to be more motivated simply by the work itself, by making it all that it can be.
15. Would you rather live to write or write to live?
Live to write.
16. What published book do you secretly wish you had written?
A Christmas Carol.
17. Are you the paranoid type or calm, cool and collected?
Definitely the paranoid type... though I'm working on becoming the latter.
18. What would qualify as the afternoon of your dreams?
Doing something, anything, with my family after having a very good morning of writing.
19. Are you more like the sun or the moon?
The moon, though again, I'm trying to head toward the sun these days.
20. Do you hear voices?
Yes, but I'm learning to ignore them. The real world and real people are much more fascinating and much better and stranger subjects for fiction.
A biographer, journalist, and screenwriter, Shane Peacock is also the author of several novels and plays. His latest is The Dragon Turn, the fifth book in his Boy Sherlock Holmes series. Other books in this series have received the prestigious Arthur Ellis Award, as well as the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction. Shane Peacock lives with his wife and three children near Cobourg, Ontario.
Photo credit: Kevin Kelly Photography