As with my other author interviews, I had M.R. GRAHAM choose ten questions from Vanity Fair's version of the PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE; with the eleventh question being my choice of their life's motto.
I first became aware of M.R. Graham's wonderful writing when I won a copy of her book, THE MEDIUM, from Goodreads over two years ago. It became my favorite vampire story. I fell in love with electric blanket loving Lenny, the stuttering vampire. I have since read all of the currently published BOOKS OF LOST KNOWLEDGE, and two of her co-written Children's books. The newest M.R. offering on my to read pile is NO CAGE FOR A CROW. It is the first part of a serialized tale about Morrigan Holmes, Sherlock's sister. The Medium is currently 99 cents as an ebook (free Kindle Unlimited), and No Cage For a Crow is also less than a dollar (free Kindle Unlimited), so sampling her writing will certainly be kind to your wallet!
I woud like to welcome M.R. to my humble little blog tonight.
1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
I’m not really one for giddy excitement. Not my cup of tea. I’d far prefer quiet contentment. So, an absence of pain and stress. Everyone I love safe. (Ideally, everybody everywhere safe.) No financial fear. Add enough books to keep me busy and enough pens and paper for the flexing of creative muscles, and I’ll be happy to live until I die. I think I may be a hobbit at heart: no adventures necessary.
2. What is your greatest extravagance?
Books. Golly. I own several thousand books and can’t seem to prevent myself from acquiring more. They’re definitely my largest non-vital expenditure. I thought that discovering ebooks would stem the tide, or at least free up some physical space, but the actual result was that I now hoard them both in real space and cyberspace. I can’t even pretend that they’re a necessity (although they totally are), because I acquire them faster than I can read them. I have loads that have been sitting around, un-read, for years. But, as far as compulsive behaviors go, there are worse things than book-hoarding.
3. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
“I cannot agree with those who rank modesty among the virtues. To the logician all things should be seen exactly as they are, and to underestimate one's self is as much a departure from truth as to exaggerate one's own powers.”
I especially loathe the societal norm that compels women to respond to all compliments with deflection at best, and self-degradation at worst. Braggadocio may be may be more annoying, but modesty is deadly.
4. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Earlier, I realized with a start that I’d used the word “debacle” no fewer than seven times this week. I can’t explain that and won’t try.
I’m also a terrible abuser of “um” and “y’know” in conversation.
5. Which talent would you most like to have?
Languages. I don’t blush to say that my English is above average, sometimes exceptional, and I would dearly love to be able to craft beautiful sentences in multiple languages. Duolingo is helping, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the best I can ever do is apologize for my terrible [Insert Language Here].
6. Where would you most like to live?
Oh, do you really want to know? I’ll stick to the Cliff Notes version.
England. A small village – the smaller, the better – close enough to London for day trips. A Beatrix Potter village with ivy and thatch and ducks and rain and a very, very old church. A place where a retired lady professor can fill a cottage with books.
7. What is your most marked characteristic?
Well, my most remarked characteristic is standoffishness. Most of the people I know have, at one point or another, told me something along the lines of “You know, you’re much nicer than I thought you were at first.” “You know, when we first met, I thought you were super… aloof, that’s the word.” “You know, everyone thinks you’re, like, really arrogant. I keep telling them you’re not, but they won’t believe me.”
I blame it on a bad case of RBF.
8. Who are your favorite writers?
Oh, the list is very long, as I acquire new ones as often as I can. The perennial favorites include Arthur Conan Doyle, Laurie R. King, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, P.G. Wodehouse, G.K. Chesterton, Ann Radcliffe, Jodi Lamm, and G.D. Falksen. (What a lot of initials.)
9. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
I’m not quite sure whether to answer with someone I admire or with someone in whom I see myself, so I’ll go with the middlest ground I can think of. Maria Montessori. She was brilliant, tortured, repressed, progressive, compassionate, determined, and saw education not as “women’s work” to be dismissed, but in its rightful place as the most important institution in society. Go find a biography right now.
10. How would you like to die?
Quickly, if at all possible. I don’t actually mind the thought of dying. Never have. It doesn’t frighten me. I rather vehemently don’t want to, and I’ll fight to stay alive, but it doesn’t scare me. I mind the thought of other people dying, of being left behind. I mind the thought of a protracted illness stealing away my faculties and leaving me helpless. But if I can’t die peacefully in my sleep at the age of a thousand and two, a twenty-storey drop sounds like the way to go. At least I’d get to fly for a moment before the end.
What is your motto?
Motto as in words to live by, or motto as in catchphrase?
If the former: “Neither knowledge nor imagination can exist on its own. If knowledge is the skeleton, imagination is the musculature. The first gives form to the second, but the second gives movement and direction to the first.”
If the latter: “Well, that didn’t go quite as expected.”
L.L. - May I borrow your catchphrase? Ha! Thank you so much for taking the time to sift through all of the Proust questions for me. I always enjoy reading your thoughts around social media and enjoyed having you all to myself for a little while tonight.