Our guest: Robin Benway is the Los Angeles-based author of the Young Adult novels Audrey, Wait!, The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June, and the Also Known As series. Her latest, Emmy & Oliver is out TODAY from HarperTeen.
The Proust-Esque Questionnaire is based on a set of 36 standardized questions designed by Marcel Proust in the 1890’s to give an overview of the respondent’s personality. Our goals are less lofty, but hopefully will provide some insight into how your favorite authors and illustrators work and what they love.
My grandmother bought a book at a tag sale called Goose Goofs Off that was about a goose who always procrastinated, and she read it to me constantly. I loved it, and I’m pretty sure that book is the reason I always put things off until the last minute.
2. WITH WHICH CHILDREN’S LITERATURE CHARACTER DO YOU MOST IDENTIFY?
Oh, Ramona Quimby, no doubt. It was the first character in children’s literature that I read who actually thought and acted like a child. Ramona the Brave is probably my favorite. (Stupid Susan and her boing-boing curls! And that owl!)
3. WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK AUTHOR? ILLUSTRATOR?
I would have to say Beverly Cleary and Marla Frazee.
4. IF YOU WERE THROWING A KINDERLIT PARTY FOR FIVE GUESTS, WHO WOULD YOU INVITE?
5. WHICH QUALITY DO YOU THINK IS MOST IMPORTANT IN GOOD CHILDREN’S LITERATURE?
Honesty. Kids can sniff out a lie faster than anyone.
6. IF YOUR OWN WORK HAS A DEFINING CHARACTERISTIC, WHAT WHAT IS IT?
I would hope humor and honest dialogue? I feel like that’s what people comment on the most, which is fine with me! I love when characters sound like actual people.
Eloise (left) at the Plaza Hotel! It would be “rawther” lovely.
8. IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND REDO ONE THING IN YOUR WORK, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I would take out one character from one book. Not saying who, though!
“Be well, do good work, and keep in touch” from Garrison Keillor’s (right) Writers Almanac series. Also, “never graffiti your own name.” (Thanks, Mom!)
10. DESCRIBE YOUR WORK PROCESS.
Honestly, once I sit down and open the word document, it probably takes me about an hour to write one thousand words, and I aim to do that amount every day. But sitting down and opening that word doc? FORGET IT. That part takes me about eight hours. (See also: Goose Goofs Off.) When I do finally start writing, I need noise-cancelling headphones and some good music, and my dog usually sits in his bed on the dining room table so he can nap next to me. I only allow this when I’m on deadline, though! (Not true.)