One of favorite shows has always been Inside the Actors Studio—James Lipton’s questions were insightful and fun. I know that Lipton claimed he got his question ideas from a French interviewer Bernard Pivot, who was on the air in France for over 25 years. Pivot credited Proust for the list, and Proust said he didn’t actually create the questionnaire he’s credited with, but merely answered them, making what was once a parlor game infamous.
I’ve never done an interview with a character I’ve written before, so I thought it be fun to try it with Harley Cole, the nursery school teacher heroine in The Fireman’s Christmas Wish. I’m going to borrow my questions from Lipton, Privot, and Proust because I love the questions and it felt odd to be inventing both the questions and answers in an interview. So, here goes…
H: Hmmm… I think maybe cuisine. Not only does it have a lovely melodic sound, but it’s all about food and so am I.
N: What sound or noise do you love?
H: I love the sound of children playing. Those little voices and their laughter. It warms my heart.
N: If you didn’t live in River’s Edge, where would you like to live?
H: I love River’s Edge, so this is tough, but… I think maybe I’d like to try living in Paris. Just for a little while to know what Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Stein found so wonderful about it. I do realize Paris today is different from Paris in the twenties, but I’d like to give it a try. I’m taking French classes at Warner College Adult Education program starting in January because one day… well, if I can get Beck to agree, I’d love to go to France.
N: What quality do you like most in a man?
H: Kindness, I think. If a man is naturally kind, then wouldn’t loving and intelligent logically follow? I also like a man to be romantic, maybe even a little sensual. I’m a newlywed, so I’m going to be listing all the things I love about Beck.
N: What natural gift would you most like to possess?
H: Ha! That list is endless, but at the top, I think I’d put that I wish I were more a natural athlete. I jog, but that’s so I can eat whatever I want, not because I’m an athlete. I’m learning to swim—Beck takes me to the pool at the high school at least once a week. I’m getting better, but I’m just so not naturally athletic.
N: What profession other than your own would you most like to attempt?
H: Wow…I love being a nursery school teacher. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do since I was babysitting at the age of twelve. But, I think maybe it would be fun to be bartender—Hugh at the tavern always seems to be having a great time. Or maybe to teach history at the college level—I adore history and I’ve got to tell you that most three to five-year-olds have no real appreciation for it. How fun would it be to teach college-age kids whose minds are already operating at full capacity and who are hungry to learn? I think I’ll always be a teacher—my mom was a teacher and she loved teaching high school English and Literature. It’s in my blood, I guess.
N: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
H: I’m such a sap, but it’s family—Beck, his brothers and their wives and Jane and Gerry. My mom is too far into the Alzheimer’s to join us, but I know she’s there in spirit.
N: And now my signature question that I ask all my authors who come on the blog: If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would they be and why?
H: Can I have a moment to think about that one?
N: Sure, take your time.
H: First, my dad. I miss him so much. Maybe Michelle Obama because she’s such a vital and fascinating woman and her life has been so full. And back to the whole Paris thing, Gertrude Stein—would she be a hoot to have dinner with?
Harley, thanks so much for stopping by to talk to me today! See you at Mac’s!