Don't Ask: Kimberly Pauley on the Most Dreaded Questions for Oracles

You know, nobody really likes being asked the same questions over and over again. But what if answering those pesky inquiries was your job — your destiny? Today, YA author Kimberly Pauley discusses her latest novel, Ask Me, which stars a teen oracle named Aria, who must always tell the truth when asked a question. Kimberly's here to share the top five most annoying questions Oracles are asked. Take it away, Kimberly!

It was tough to be an Oracle back in the day. Sure, it sounds exciting, romantic and magical but they often had lives cut tragically short … usually as a direct result of a prophecy gone bad. A powerful king asks something and doesn’t understand or like your answer? Dead. Make a prophecy that doesn’t work out? Trouble. Speak an unpopular truth that no one wants to hear? Doomed.

Today, I think you’d have it even harder, because people are so skeptical. No one would believe you were actually an oracle (except, possibly, the kind of people you didn’t want following you around, all carrying End of the World placards). People would either think you were crazy or they would be trying to capitalize on your power. Aria, in Ask Me, fears both of those things with good reason.

But, no matter when you lived, if you were an oracle, you would hate these questions:

When am I going to die?

The cover of Ask Me

Do you really want to know? Truly? No matter when it will be, only harm can come from knowing it. The best answer to this would be: Live each day like it is your last because you never know when the end will come.

What is the meaning of life?

Because, obviously, the answer is 42. There is no other answer to that question. And if you don’t know that already, you need to go back and read your Douglas Adams.

Has so-and-so lied to me? (or any variant thereof)

The answer will always be yes to this question and the asker will never want to admit that. Oracles know that everyone, absolutely everyone, lies. All the time. Sometimes they are little lies (yes, you look great in that dress or no, I didn’t eat the last piece of cake) and sometimes they are big ones (yes, I love you or no, I never saw that man before and have no idea why he’s dead), but ultimately everyone lies. No one wants to believe this, even though they lie, too. This is the kind of question that gets you in trouble both with the person who is asking and whoever it is they are asking about.

What are the winning lottery numbers? (Or, back in the old days, where is the treasure buried?)

You know this would get so annoying. Everyone always looking for a get rich quick scheme. Even if oracles didn’t already answer in riddles, I think this would make them, especially when you had some real jerk asking. While everyday people could ask questions, the service was often reserved for powerful people who could pay for it. In it’s heyday, Delphi had some pretty sweet loot ... statuary, gold, you name it. Of course, the Oracles didn’t tend to actually get much of that (the priests usually controlled everything), which would make these types of questions even more annoying. I know I would be tempted to make the answer completely undecipherable.

Are you really an oracle?

You would, of course, have to answer yes to this question. But if they are asking, that means they really don’t believe you are and thus would not believe your answer. This would be probably the single most annoying question asked of an oracle ... and also probably the most common. Think about it. Wouldn’t you want to pull your hair out? No wonder most oracles hid out in caves and didn’t go out in public!

- Kimberly Pauley

Readers, let us know in the comments which questions you'd be loathe to answer if you were an Oracle. And be sure to pick up a copy of Ask Me in stores or online today. For more YA authors and books, visit our Everything Young Adult page!