Barbara Radecki is a multi-talented author and actress. Her acclaimed debut novel, THE DARKHOUSE, came out in 2016 and earned her a spot on the shortlist for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize. Her second novel, MESSENGER 93, came out last year and was a CBC Books and Forest of Reading pick. Below, she answers questions from the (in)famous Proust Questionnaire and reveals what it means to be “Barb-ing it.”
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Outside in nature, a body of water in front of me, writing a story. Nothing else to do but write for days/weeks. No chores, no ticking clock to the next appointment. For the record, I’ve never actually experienced this whole package. Which I guess is why it’s an idea of perfect happiness. In reality, pure happiness comes to me when I’m with my family, sitting around a table, eating and laughing.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Being busy. Ask any of my people, they will say ‘she’s so busy.’ And I make things more complicated than they need to be. A friend coined a term for this—if I decide it needs 10 steps to do something that can [for others] be done in 3 steps, we call this “Barb-ing it.” [P.S. don’t call me “Barb” unless you know me well.]
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Always being busy.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Being busy all the time.
On what occasion do you lie?
When someone needs something, I reassure them I’m not busy.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Letting go of expectations. After telling myself for so long that my life would or should be “this” or “that,” with specific results and outcomes, with one clear route to get there, with exact measures of success, I have finally let those expectations go. The shift in the way I now approach my work and my exchanges with people has brought me unexpected levels of joy and peace.
Who are your favourite writers?
I adore writers who use language with delicacy and precision, who explore the intricacies of human emotions, the layers and complexities, all while inviting me into inventive, imaginative and familiar realities. Kazuo Ishiguro does this so beautifully. André Alexis, Esi Edugyan, Heather O’Neill, Terese Mailhot, Jennifer Egan, and I could go on.
Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
I always come back to Alice, the one who finds herself in Wonderland. I guess I admire curiosity above all other degrees of courage.
What is it that you most dislike?
What is your greatest fear?
That it all means nothing.
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