Here are 21 questions with another of my favorite authors, Alice Camille, full-time writer, retreat leader, popular speaker, and the kind of person you’d love to hang out with. Her books include A Book of Grace-Filled Days, Listening to God’s Word, and, with Joel Schorn, A Faith Interrupted: An Honest Conversation with Alienated Catholics.
(With a tip of the hat to James Lipton, Bernard Pivot, Marcel Proust, and Anne Semmes)
- Alice, how are you an average Catholic?
I come from a humongous blue-collar family only two generations off the boat. I went to parochial school back when there were fantastic nuns in charge of everything, which is why I can read and spell and add today.
- What is your favorite word?
- What is your least favorite word?
- What sound or noise do you love?
My nieces singing “Happy Birthday” to me over the phone
- What sound or noise do you hate?
- What is your favorite book?
The Annotated Sherlock Holmes edited by William S. Baring-Gould in two volumes
- Do you have a particular Catholic role model?
Joan Chittister, OSB, author, prophet, maybe martyr one day
- What is your favorite movie?
Saving Grace, the one with Tom Conti, or Camelot with Richard Harris. Both hopeless idealists who win by losing.
- What music is in your car disc-player right now?
I don’t drive. But I’ve been listening to Hildegard of Bingen’s chants lately.
- What TV shows do you watch regularly?
I have no TV. (Luddite here!) But I like “30 Rock” and “Dead Like Me.”
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
A lounge singer. A Sister of Mercy. Then a novelist. A priest.
- How old were you when you knew what you wanted to be when you grew up?
I wanted to sing at five, join the convent at seven, write at nine, become a priest at 20. I didn’t want to become this, a catechist, until I was 35.
- What do you like most about what you are doing now?
I get to be alone most of the time, writing. I love the sound of silence.
- Have you ever said something or done something that was outside the boundaries of Church rules because you knew it was the right thing?
Yes. I intend to write a tell-all about that three hours before I die, so stay tuned!
- Have you ever not said something or not did something because you were afraid you might get in trouble with the Church?
I try very hard to speak words of hope, comfort, and love even when they’re professionally unwise. Not all my editors are willing to take such chances, so some sentiments wind up on the cutting room floor.
- Do you have any regrets in life?
Wasting so many years being afraid.
- What is the spiritual idea that keeps you going?
God is so much bigger and better than we are!
- What idea do you think is the most important idea right now for the Church to be talking about?
Who’s going to lead us when we run out of celibate males.
- What life advice would you give to a young person if she asked you?
Don’t be who you think you’re supposed to be. Be who God brought you into being to become.
- What brings you joy?
Staying up half the night in conversations with people of generous hearts and gentle manners.
- What are you most looking forward to?
My next hour with a friend.