The Next Chapter·Proust Questionnaire

Lori Lansens reveals why her maternal instinct will never go away

The bestselling screenwriter and novelist takes The Next Chapter's version of the Proust questionnaire.
Lori Lansens is a Canadian screenwriter and novelist based in Los Angeles. (Laura Starks)

This interview originally aired on Nov. 23, 2019.

Lori Lansens is a Chatham, Ont.-raised novelist and screenwriter, currently residing in Los Angeles. Her latest novel, This Little Lighttakes place in an all-too-believable version of the U.S. that has re-criminalized abortion and birth control in the year 2023.

She is also the author of three other novels, including bestselling books The Mountain Story and The Girls.

Lansens took The Next Chapter's version of the Proust questionnaire. 

What do you value most in your friends?

My closest dearest friends offer love, support and zero unsolicited advice. I'd like to think that I'm the same kind of friend. 

What is your favourite occupation?

Currently my favourite occupation is "first responder." I live in California and struggled through last year's wildfires and the recent earthquake that everyone saw on their televisions. I'm so grateful to know that there is this army of first responders who have chosen to take care of the population this way.

What is your principal defect? 

I have trouble relaxing and that must be difficult for the people around me. I remember when I was a young mother in Toronto, I would often visit Trinity Bellwoods Park with my children. One day, someone came up to me and noted he always sees me in the park with my two little ones. He said I reminded him of a meerkat, constantly popping and swiveling my head looking for danger. I think most parents, especially mothers, have that "meerkat quality" and I haven't let it go. My children are now teenagers. My son is going off to college and I still have this need to be looking at what they are doing. It's a challenge.

Where would you like to live?

I want to live close to my children, even as they go off to college and go out into the world.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I don't like the word "happy." In my latest book, the main character talks about how she'd like to stab that word. I understand contentment and satisfaction. I suppose my idea of perfect contentment would be being with my family. 

My son is going off to college and I still have this need to be looking at what they are doing. It's a challenge.

What is your greatest fear?

My greatest fear is that I will not be close to my children when the next natural disaster strikes. When the fires hit last fall, my daughter was in Malibu, almost in the line of fire as it was eating its way to the ocean. That's what I fear the most. Not knowing where they are. Not knowing if they're safe.

What is your greatest achievement?

My children, I would say, are my greatest achievement. I've worked harder as a mother than any other job I've ever had. I'm so proud of them both. I can't take credit for who they've become. But I'd like to think that I've been a good and loving guide. When I watch them be loving to others and achieve their dreams, I feel that's part of my achievement as well.

Lori Lansens's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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