Isabel Allende starts every year by lighting a candle and sitting down to begin a new novel.
When were you happiest?
When my children were babies.
What is your earliest memory?
A man’s white linen pants and white patent shoes stained with blood. I was three and the man was my father. There was an accident at home.
Which living person do you most admire, and why?
The millions of destitute women who struggle to support their children.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I have very little kindness and consideration for myself.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
Once a man said to me in bed, ‘Come with me.’ I thought he was inviting me to go with him to Spain.
Aside from a property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?
A safari in Kenya with all my family.
What is your most treasured possession?
My mother’s letters.
What would your super power be?
The power to heal.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Would you rather be clever and ugly, or thick and attractive?
I would rather be clever and attractive, thank you very much. Why would I compromise for less?
What makes you depressed?
Abuse against women and girls.
Who would play you in the film of your life?
I would like Penélope Cruz, but I should probably get Sylvester Stallone.
What is your favourite smell?
What is your favourite word?
It is not a word, it is a universal sound – children laughing.
What is your favourite book?
Paula, a memoir I wrote when my daughter died. It saved me from suicide.
What has been your biggest disappointment?
That I could not help my stepson become a better man.
What is your fancy dress costume of choice?
Anyone on an elephant – Indian princess, acrobat, British hunter, monkey, whatever.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Carbohydrates, especially chocolate.
To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
To my daughter, Paula, because I was not able to save her.
What does love feel like?
A generous, powerful and hot energy accompanied by the fierce determination to defend the object of my love.
What was the best kiss of your life?
A French kiss from a giraffe in Kenya.
What is the worst job you’ve done?
Accounting. I can’t add or subtract.
If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I would have started writing earlier, divorced my first husband earlier, exercised and meditated more. Also, I would have never left my children for a month to follow a lover who did not deserve it. My kids suffered.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
To the day before Paula fell sick. I thought nothing bad could ever happen to us.
When did you last cry, and why?
Three days ago I woke up in the night with a very bad dream.
How often do you have sex?
As often as possible, considering that my husband and I are in our 60s.
What is the closest you’ve come to death?
I had peritonitis in my late 30s.
What song would you like played at your funeral?
None. Just throw my ashes somewhere without any fuss, please.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
We can lose everything.
Where would you most like to be right now?
In my husband’s arms.
Tell us a joke.
I am a young, tall blonde with long legs and big boobs.