Kevin Sylvester takes the Laferrière Questionnaire
The author of the mouthwatering Neil Flambé mysteries 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.
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?
Hmmmm it depends a bit on whether I’m being chased by a maniacal queen who wants to chop my head off—especially if she’s being directed by Tim Burton. Actually, I’m very much a realist and experiences of any “other side” are only interesting to me if they help make the “real” world a better place.
If your home were on fire, what prized keepsake would you grab on your way out?
Probably the stained glass windows that are from my parents’ old 1800’s farm house. Other than that, my Simmon’s goalie glove.
What childhood fear do you still have as an adult?
Heights. I hate ferris wheels and cannot stand roller coasters.
Would it be okay to have a miserable childhood if that were a prerequisite for becoming a writer?
No. I’ve never believed that trope, quite frankly, and I think a person’s quality of life and their chance for happiness are far more important than their working life.
Do you wake up at night to read or write?
I’m often kept up at night “listening” to Larry and Neil Flambé arguing with each other. It’s not even chat worth writing down most nights; it’s just a great sign that my characters are real people to me.
Do you feel anxious or excited when you start to write?
I feel nervous and scared. It’s very daunting to stare at a blank page (or computer screen). You want to write something worthy of your characters and your fans. But the excitement begins to grow as I immerse myself in my imagined world.
Does darkness soothe you or frighten you?
I love darkness. I grew up in a small town and still get freaked out by the amount of wasted light we have in the city. I miss the stars. I still can’t sleep well if there’s a light on.
Do you tend to hang on to a thousand little scraps of paper, or do you regularly clean out your drawers?
It’s boom or bust for me. When I’m working my studio gets cluttered (read: fire hazard). Eventually I get sick of stepping over stuff and I throw almost everything out.
Which animal would you rather be: a cat or a dog?
Does love dry up your creative juices or make them flow faster?
Love makes everything better.
Do you remember your dreams?
Sometimes. Just the other day I dreamt I had a bee on my hand and was trying to shake it off. I woke up after I smacked my poor wife in the head. I have recurring nightmares about tornadoes.
What’s your favourite colour?
The blue on a vintage Buffalo Sabres jersey.
What’s your favourite season?
Does pressure motivate you?
Trying to do my best motivates me. Pressure actually knocks me down sometimes BUT when I get a project done on time I feel like I’ve defeated the anxiety dragon which makes it kind of sweet but I wish I could relax more.
Would you rather live to write or write to live?
I do both right now and I’d rather live to write and have my house paid off.
What published book do you secretly wish you had written?
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Are you the paranoid type or calm, cool and collected?
I’m not paranoid, but I’m not very calm either. I do worry about stuff WAY too much, but am also able to push on.
What would qualify as the afternoon of your dreams?
Playing shinny outside with all my friends and family, then coming in for a warm bowl of soup (made by me) and hot chocolate. Oh, and it’s Christmas.
Are you more like the sun or the moon?
Moon. I’m loony.
Do you hear voices?
See my answer to the previous question.
Kevin Sylvester is an award- winning writer, illustrator and broadcaster. He is the author of three books featuring child chef (and part-time sleuth) Neil Flambé: the latest, Neil Flambé and the Crusader's Curse, was published in May 2012. The first, Neil Flambé and the Marco Polo Murders, won the 2011 Silver Birch Fiction Award. His previous books include Gold Medal for Weird and Sports Hall of Weird.