Proust Questionnaire: 17 questions with Linda Collins
By Yong Shu Hoong
A non-fiction book on grief and loss is hardly what you would expect of a bestseller. But for Singapore publisher Ethos Books, Linda Collins' Loss Adjustment is not only one of its top-selling titles for 2019, but it has also made its way into several year-end best-of booklists, including those of The Straits Times, Singapore Unbound and Wardah Books. The book has also been acquired by Awa Press for publication in New Zealand and Australia.
A New Zealander, Collins has lived and worked as a copyeditor in Singapore for many years. Loss Adjustment started as a thesis project for her MA in Creative Writing, which she obtained in 2017 from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. Grappling with the death by suicide of her 17-year-old daughter, Victoria McLeod (excerpts from her diaries are interwoven into Collins' text), Loss Adjustment strikes a chord with many of its fans. For example, a reader on the Goodreads website identified herself as "someone who has struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts" before commenting that the book "greatly pulled on my heartstrings… a difficult read, but an honest and beautifully-written memoir."
In 2018, Collins also decided to study poetry by attending night classes at Lasalle College of the Arts and later online with American poets, Michael Montlack and Matthew Lippman. Her non-fiction and poetry have appeared in Turbine, The Cordite Review, Swamp Living, The Fib Review and more. In 2020, Math Paper Press will be publishing Collins' poetry collection, The Grief Box.
1. What are you reading right now?
2. If you were a famous literary character in a novel, play, or poem, who would you be, and why?
3. What is the greatest misconception about you?
4. Name one living author and one dead author you identify with most, and tell us why.
5. Do you believe in writer's block? If so, how do you overcome it?
6. What qualities do you admire most in a writer?
7. What is one trait you deplore most in writing or writers?
8. Can you recite your favourite line from a literary work or a piece of advice from a writer?
9. Complete this sentence: Few people know this, but I…
10. At the movies, if you have to pick a comedy, a tragedy, or an action thriller to watch, which will you go for, and why?
11. What is your favourite word, and what is your least favourite one?
12. Write a short-short story in three sentences that include the following three words: "seed", "wood" and "sunset".
13. What object is indispensable to you when you write?
14. What is the best time of the day for writing?
15. If you had a last supper, which three literary figures, real or fictional, would you invite to the soiree, and why?
16. Between your appetite for lifelong learning and the many book ideas you're hoping to materialise, do you feel it's more a delicate act of shifting gears, or one passion voraciously feeding the other?
17. What would you write on your own tombstone?