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The Proust Questionnaire Reincarnated

Greetings from research hell.

I've spent the last few years studying reincarnation from the sublime to the ridiculous, the religious to the metaphysical. Along the way, I've completed The Reincarnationist, which just came out and is the first novel in a new suspense series. To date I've read 60 books on the subject and have a shelf of at least 30 more to tackle.

When I started I had no idea how popular a subject it is. Not only is there a Reincarnation for Dummies there's also The Idiot's Guide to Reincarnation. Turns out more than 60 million people in America believe in it.

So I thought it would be interesting to alter and abridge Proust's ubiquitous questionnaire and find out what some of my favorite authors think about the subject.

Over the next few days I'll share some of their answers. I hope you'll find them as interesting as I did.

÷ ÷ ÷

Doug Preston,

Most Recent book:
The Wheel of Darkness

Q. Do you believe — even a little bit — that reincarnation is possible?

A. Yes.

Q. Have you ever read any books on the subject that made an impression on you?

A. When I was thirteen or fourteen, I read a book called The Boy Who Saw True. That bowled me over and converted me to the idea of reincarnation and karma. I had previously thought the idea of heaven and hell was ridiculous and I wondered how a benevolent God could allow innocents to suffer. Reincarnation and karma provided neat solutions to both those problems. I devoured the books of Edgar Cayce, The Aquarian Gospel, as well as the Diamond Light of Tibetan Buddhism. Recently, I fear, I have become a skeptic.

Q. What is your most marked characteristic that you believe could be a hold over from a past life?

A. Kindness.

Q. What is your principle defect that you believe might be inherited from a previous incarnation?

A. A propensity to yell.

Q. Which of your favorite heroes do you think you actually could have been and why?

A. None. I feel sure that if reincarnation is true, my previous lives were lived in blessed anonymity. Not only do the laws of probability suggest it, but I don't feel I've ever been a famous or powerful person. I have a strong aversion to the acquisition and exercise of power.

Q. What three people from history would you like to have over to dinner for a discussion about reincarnation?

A. Jesus Christ, the Dalai Lama, and Siddartha Guatama.

Q. What do you think happens when we die?

A. I have complicated ideas about that, which I expound in my upcoming novel, Blasphemy.

Q. When you come back next time, who would you like to be?

A. Just an ordinary, anonymous human being trying to make sense of his life.

÷ ÷ ÷

Visit M. J. Rose at her website ( or read her daily blog ( on reincarnation facts, philosophy, and curiosities. Her most recent novel, The Memorist, is an Indie Next pick.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. The Memorist
    Used Hardcover $2.75

  2. Complete Idiot's Guide to Past Life... Used Trade Paper $8.50
  3. The Wheel of Darkness
    Used Hardcover $3.50
  4. The Boy Who Saw True: The... New Trade Paper $16.95

M. J. Rose is the author of The Memorist

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