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Friday, March 2, 2012

Joshilyn Jackson takes on Proust

Because virtually all great work is, at best, derivative, the following idea for questions was blatantly stolen from James Lipton (who blatantly stole it from Bernard Pivot, who blatantly stole it from Marcel Proust).

Here's how Joshilyn Jackson, NYT Bestselling author, answered the Smokey Variation of the Proust Questionnaire on a bitterly cold February Sunday in Asheville:

Smokey Joe:  What word do you love that you’ve never used in a book?

Joshilyn Jackson:  I don’t know.  I’m writing my eighth book.  I’ve probably never used inchoate.  I can’t imagine that I’ve ever used inchoate.  But if I have, I’m sorry.

SJ:  If you could eliminate one word from the English language...

JJ (before I could get the rest of the question out):  Moist.  No people should ever say that word again.  Ooh…also tender (said derisively).  Although you can use tender if you want to speak of a cut of meat.  Moist has to go.

SJ:  What’s the best part about being a writer?

JJ:  I’m never bored.  Even when I’m doing boring things.  Just flip the eyes around and look this way (points in toward the brain).

SJ:  What’s the worst part about being a writer?

JJ:  I never sleep.  The people in my head don’t shut up.

SJ follow up:  Does yoga help?

JJ:  Yes!  Yoga helps everything.  Yoga makes everything better.  I used to mock yoga.  I feel terrible about that.  I used to mock people.  All my friends would do yoga and they’d say, “You should do yoga” and I’d say, “Suck it, hippy.”  I should’ve been doing yoga my whole life.

SJ:  What’s your favorite smell or taste?

JJ:  When the air gets cold, when fall comes.  Or sometimes in the Florida panhandle it’s winter but that first time the air gets really crisp and cold and it tastes like apples.  That’s my favorite.  The first time I kissed the boy I married the air was like that.  

SJ:  What smell or taste do you hate?

JJ:  Dill.  I’m allergic to it.  It tastes like ass to me.  I can’t taste it properly.

SJ:  What’s your favorite curse word?

JJ:  The one I’ve been saying lately when I’m really mad – it changes – is shitfuck.  I don’t know why…I just like it.  I like to cuss.  It’s like the mother’s last refuge of her rebellious girlhood.  When I’m by myself, you know, I can never really…I’ve had children and as long as they need me extant I can’t really become a heroin addict or build a harem of beautiful, oiled cabana boys and live with them on an island.  I have to like do the PTA.  But cussing is the final refuge of a mother’s evil girlhood.  It’s your secret, vicious language you use among your friends when your children aren’t around.  [laughs]

SJ:  In what region of the country (other than the South) would you like to live?

JJ:  Does it have to be the United States?  (Yes)  I wouldn’t.  I’ve learned this.  I think it.  I visit places but I would be itchy and uncomfortable.  I wouldn’t.

SJ:  In what region of the country (other than the South) would you NOT want to live?

JJ:  I’m tempted to say where I would want to live is California because I really like California, but that’s the one place I could never live because I’m terrified of earthquakes.  Terrified. 

So the true answer to both of those is California if they didn’t have earthquakes and California because they have earthquakes.  [laughs]  I love San Diego and San Francisco.  And if there weren’t earthquakes and if I didn’t believe the whole state was going to drop into the sea, just any minute…

SJ:  But what a way to go!

JJ:  NO THANK YOU!  I want to die in a tornado like a proper human being. [laughs]

SJ:  If you could write one – and only one – book before you’re time on Earth is through, how does it end?

JJ:  With a birth. 

So there you have it.  Thanks again to Joshilyn Jackson for chatting with me and to Malaprops Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, NC for allowing us to borrow the back of the store for our chat.

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