Q&A

The Proust Questionnaire

  1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? Family. Health. Laughter. And a safe and comfortable home.
  2. Which historical figure do you most identify with? Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard the Lionheart’s mother, the queen of hearts—troubadours worshiped and wrote about her. Not only was she a romantic, but a champion of women’s rights. She endowed one of the first shelters for battered women in England in a convent. She was at once a nurturing but powerfully strong woman—and I come from a family in which the women are a little too strong for their own good.
  3. Who do you most admire? Rosamunde Pilcher, author of The Shell Seekers. My husband’s grandmother, Alice Entzminger, was an amazing woman. She had been widowed, about age 50, and lived alone and taught school until she was 70. She was always so happy that I was writing. She thought reading and writing were the most important things. She grew up north of San Francisco, in the Napa Valley area, and was in the earthquake of 1910.
  4. What is the trait you most deplore in others? Meanness and jealousy.
  5. What is your greatest extravagance? My children—I have a hard time spending money on myself.
  6. What is your favorite destination? The ocean and the mountains. I’m not a big city girl.
  7. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Propriety.
  8. What is your greatest regret? I don’t know—every bad thing that ever happened to me had such a wonderful upside. Seems like your pathology is your opportunity. I have gotten my kids so convinced of that that when bad things happen, they get a little excited because they wonder what something wonderful will be next. So yeah, can’t think of a single thing I would undo.
  9. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My husband, Jim . . . And of course there’s George Clooney and Tom Selleck. But I have to say Jim, don’t I, because I don’t want to end up in divorce court. (But if Jim got that question he would fearlessly reply, “Glenn Close.” He’s nuts for her.)
  10. Which talent would you most like to have? I’d absolutely love to be able to sing.
  11. What is your current state of mind? Happy all the time—never depressed.
  12. What do you consider your greatest achievement? My children. They are my biggest victory. I have no idea how they turned out so well, because, really, Big Bird raised them. Maybe they’re the better for it?
  13. If you could choose what to come back as in another life, what would it be? I would like to be an accomplished and beautiful actress without any of the fame crap.
  14. Where would you like to live? Where I’m living, and if I had millions of dollars I would be living in Las Vegas most of the time but with a small home on the ocean and a small home in the mountains.
  15. What is your favorite occupation? This is it. I’ve been writing novels for 30 years. It’s the best job I could ever get. I really have a perfect life . . .
  16. What is your most marked behavior characteristic? I’m a really good sport. I am.
  17. What quality do you like most in a man? Humor.
  18. What quality do you like most in a woman? Intelligence.
  19. What do you most value in a friend? Loyalty.
  20. Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Captain Brandon Birmingham, the hero in The Flame and the Flower. He was big and sexy, like Jack (from my Virgin River series).
  21. Who are your heroes in real life? My husband, my son, my son-in-law and my daughter, Jamie, who amazes me with her ability to be a successful career woman in a dangerous profession, a loving wife, nurturing mother and spectacular best friend.
  22. What are your favorite names? I always write real common names, names that stick like Jack, Joe, John. I don’t like those foo-foo names.
  23. What do you most dislike? Nutballs. Crazy-makers. People who just aren’t happy unless there’s a lot of wacko melodrama and who can’t wait to turn a perfectly content person’s world inside out. You absolutely never see ‘em coming!
  24. How would you like to die? I want to die in my sleep at the age of 127. I’m going to hang on. There will be heel marks all the way.
  25. What is your motto? It doesn’t hurt or cost you anything to be nice.