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Are any of you familiar with the Proust Questionnaire on the last page of every issue of Vanity Fair? I love them…I always flip to this page first. The celebrity of the month (an author, political figure, actor, musician, etc.) is asked twenty-one questions, such as: What is your idea of perfect happiness? What quality do you most admire in a man? What do you most value in your friends?

I love pondering questions like these.

CJ Working Hard Again
CJ Working Hard Again

Did any of you buy the issue of Vanity Fair with Johnny Depp on the cover? (I know, rhetorical question.) If you made it to the back page, you would have discovered a very funny, wry, touching interview with Judd Apatow. Maybe you know who Judd is. Probably you do. I didn’t (I need to beef up my celebrity IQ) but now that I’ve read his Proust Questionnaire I adore him. How can you not adore someone who answers questions like this:

VF: What or who is the greatest love of your life?

JA: My wife, Leslie Mann. Don’t call her Leslie Apatow or she’ll get upset.

VF: What talent would you most like to have?

JA: I would like to be a sexual dynamo. I mean, Leslie would like me to be a sexual dynamo.

Apparently, answering a list of questions that revealed your character and aspirations was a popular entertainment among the cocktail set in the late 19th Century. (Proust was a fan of the parlor game, which explains why VF uses his name.) I say the questionnaire is useful for other things too. Like, as a tool for revealing character in an romance novel. In fact, I love the Proust Questionnaire so much I’ve used it in my novels twice.

I’ll tell you about the second time. It happens In my March 2010 book when my heroine and hero are stuck together on a long flight, with nothing much to do. The heroine (ever inventive) turns to the back of her VF magazine and starts asking the hero questions. Naturally he quickly turns the tables on her. I thought it was a fun way for my characters to learn more about each other. And I even picked up a few tips about them, too.

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