CBCBooks on  Twitter CBCBooks on Facebook

Todd Babiak takes the Laferrière Questionnaire

The award-winning author answers our own game of 20 questions, 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 would be ruined by indecision for some time, as the moment of choice arrived. Then I would realize the only thing I know how to do is tell stories, and love my family. So I would end up on the banal, familiar side of the mirror.

2. If your home were on fire, what prized keepsake would you grab on your way out?
Everything I have ever done that is worth doing is on the computer. Other than that, my prized keepsakes are just things. Even my late father's artificial arm, which is the "prized keepsake" I am most drawn to. I didn't always feel this way.

3. What childhood fear do you still have as an adult?
That I will be stricken by a mental illness.

4. Would it be okay to have a miserable childhood if that were a prerequisite for becoming a writer?
From the point of view of an adult, it sounds quite romantic. My childhood was alternately miserable and marvellous, and I witnessed a lot of misery. I don't think horror and pain turn out well for most people, even if it does make for hot inciting incidents and a manner of suspicious detachment.

5. Do you wake up at night to read or write?
Early in the morning. Not the night. I'm compulsive.

6. Do you feel anxious or excited when you start to write?
Anxious and excited aren't the right words. It's a mixture of dread and relief: I'm doing what I like to be doing yet I worry desperately that I'm stirring a pot of garbage.

7. Does darkness soothe you or frighten you?
Darkness soothes me. It occasionally frightens me, but only in the most soothing manner.

8. Do you tend to hang on to a thousand little scraps of paper, or do you regularly clean out your drawers?
I hang on to little scraps of paper and read them, occasionally, to discover what might have inspired the thought. If, upon reflection, it turns out I was either drunk or really stupid in that moment of inspiration I recycle the scrap.

9. Which animal would you rather be: a cat or a dog?
A cat. The introvert's answer.

10. Does love dry up your creative juices or make them flow faster?
Love makes creative juices flow faster, because I'm alive to loss and risk.

11. Do you remember your dreams?
I remember the really awful and the really wonderful dreams.

12. What's your favourite colour?
I'm colour-blind. I see blue well, I think, baby and bright blue.

13. What's your favourite season?
Fall is my favourite season. Being a writer, I should call it autumn. I like Halloween, the sudden hit of night, and I was born in late October.

14. Does pressure motivate you?
Oh God: pressure and guilt and shame.

15. Would you rather live to write or write to live?
I want to do both, I suppose, but I have "lived to write" for too long. My kids will have to go to university some day and my car really sucks. I'm ready to write to live.

16. What published book do you secretly wish you had written?
The Great Gatsby.

17. Are you the paranoid type or calm, cool and collected?
I am the paranoid type who strives constantly to appear calm and cool. 

18. What would qualify as the afternoon of your dreams?
I was in a public park in Colmar, France, with my beautiful wife and beautiful first daughter. She was a year and a half old. We had wine and some picnic food, the temperature was perfect. An election was on.

19. Are you more like the sun or the moon?
The moon seems a miserable thing to be, dry and needy, but to declare myself like the son would be dishonest.

20. Do you hear voices?
I hear voices. 

You can find out more about Todd Babiak by visiting his website. You can also follow him on Twitter.

«Read more Laferriere Questionnaire entries


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.

set count down final date: 11/01/2014
set count up final date: 11/01/2014
show ENTER NOW menu 0