Taras Grescoe takes the Laferrière Questionnaire
We hook some writing wisdom from the author of the seafood-tastic Bottomfeeder in our very own version 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?
If I found myself in Lewis Carroll's Wonderland, I'd just sit tight, enjoy the scenery, and make sure to jot down a few notes. The effects of laudanum don't last that long.
2. If your home were on fire, what prized keepsake would you grab on your way out?
After ensuring the safety of my wife Erin, our son Desmond, and our cat Marvin, I'd grab the ten years or so of travel journals I have stashed away. Everything else is either backed up or perishable.
3. What childhood fear do you still have as an adult?
As the offspring of a journalist and an editor, I have an abiding fear of poorly formulated questions.
4. Would it be okay to have a miserable childhood if that were a prerequisite for becoming a writer?
Not if you turn out to be a mediocre writer. Now, if you're Proust, say, there's some justification.
5. Do you wake up at night to read or write?
I try to sleep at night.
6.Do you feel anxious or excited when you start to write?
Anxious and excited, before almost everything I write, though oddly enough I'm quite calm right now.
7. Does darkness soothe you or frighten you?
Depends on the darkness. The darkness just before the curtains part at the movie theatre soothes, the darkness in the crawlspace, not so much.
8. Do you tend to hang on to a thousand little scraps of paper, or do you regularly clean out your drawers?
Funny, I put exactly 1,000 scraps of paper into a drawer just yesterday.
9. Which animal would you rather be: a cat or a dog?
A cat, like Marvin.
10. Does love dry up your creative juices or make them flow faster?
My creative juices are in fact solids.
11. Do you remember your dreams?
Not enough of them.
12. What's your favourite colour?
All colours have their qualities. However, I dislike most hues of jaundice.
13. What's your favourite season?
I have come to appreciate the qualities of both of Montreal's seasons, winter and July.
14. Does pressure motivate you?
Look, isn't every human being motivated by pressure at some point? Next question.
15. Would you rather live to write or write to live?
Sometimes I'd rather not write at all.
16. What published book do you secretly wish you had written?
The I Ching, which I actually did write, though by now I've forgotten most of it.
17. Are you the paranoid type or calm, cool and collected?
Who told you I was paranoid? Not that I care...
18. What would qualify as the afternoon of your dreams?
That sojourn in Wonderland sounded pretty sweet.
19. Are you more like the sun or the moon?
So glad you asked! The sun! No, the moon! No, the soon!
20. Do you hear voices?
Only Desmond crying, though that surely qualifies as pre-vocal. Got to go.
Taras Grescoe is the author of five books and countless articles focusing on world travel and food, including Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood. He has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, Gourmet, National Geographic Traveler, and the Los Angeles Times. He lives in Montreal.