The Margaret Atwood Twitterview

11/11/2011 by Ed Wood

Margaret Atwood talks to readers about sci-fi, storytelling and her third book in the MaddAddam series

I'm toying with a SF short story where Margaret Atwood gets cloned several million times and they compete with each other. deadendrite
Margaret Atwood: That cloned Atwood thing has already happened... Trogwate d'Amorda is one of them... writes pomo lit crit.

Margaret, which book are you most proud of? Middle_Innes
MA: I'm Canadian – we aren't allowed to be proud of achievements because we might get Puffed Up. ;)

Do you read comic books? I always think of The Handmaid's Tale, 1984 and V for Vendetta as my favourite books. DingILikeChips
MA: Mine was the comic book generation...

Why does sci fi lend itself to feminism? MrsJooles
MA: SF allows thought games in which usual social roles can be rearranged. Many have done this...

How important is convincing world creation in sci-fi? welovethisbook
MA: In any fiction, world created has to be consistent with itself. That's what constitutes "convincing" in SF.

Don't go into great detail describing places, unless you're @MargaretAtwood and can paint scenes with language. Elmore Leonard ByJamesPiper
MA: Elmore Leonard is such a gent. I enjoyed quoting him in Payback. And wrote review of him in NYRB.

I listened to The Year of the Flood as an audiobook. Does one get more or less by listening rather than reading? timhochban
MA: Reading vs listening? Which better? Depends on the reader/listener -- personal taste!

Curious, what got you into writing? Have you always wanted to write books or were you interested in print as well? Jessica Yeo
MA: Started writing very young, as described in Ch. 1 of In Other Worlds… began with flying rabbit superhero commix.

Are you planning to create any more novels in the world of Crake, Oryx and Toby? colebennett_
MA: Even as we speak, I'm writing MaddAddam... Toby is in it. :D

I heard you were writing a follow up for Oryx and Crake/The Year of the Flood, how is it coming along? JessieSyme
MA: Thanks for interest -- I'm on about p. 80 but have rewritten beginning several times (that's standard!). Zeb is eating a bear.
JS: So excited! Hope it all goes well :) I really do love the concept, so brilliant. Happy writing!

There's been a lot of debate recently about the lack of female sci-fi authors. Do you think this is deliberate selection? celesteosharp
MA: There many female SF writers. But many women writers seem less drawn to the form. More drawn to historical??

What is the one book you wish you had written? jessicayeo
MA: I wouldn't mind having written The Complete Works of Shakespeare. Or Wuthering Heights. Or Treasure Island. Or....

What are you looking at in your twitter photo? ByJamesPiper
MA: In my picture I'm looking at a Dream Machine; see John Geiger, The Chapel of Extreme Experience.

How do you get that level of characterization you have? Do you let characters develop themselves or do you do the developing? thejessfong
MA: Characters suggest things as you explore them, like real people. There's much beyond a first impression!

Wow, chatting with my fave author. You talked about delivery systems changing. Is Kindle good or bad? Though I would prefer a hard copy. zaksam zak sam
MA: Many readers like to have both paper and e versions -- e very good for travelling, for instance.

Did you make any conscious links to Chaucer with The Handmaid's Tale? P.S. Love teaching your work to students - thank you. rozmorton
MA: Yes, definite connection with Chaucer in the title of The Handmaid's Tale. (And thank YOU!)

Do you look back over your work and think you would write things differently now? serena1anne
MA: Yes, I'd write things differently now because I am sooooo muuuuch oooolder... But that was then eh?

LOVED Cat’s Eye: depiction of childhood and bullying superb. Have you considered writing more about childhood? LisaFarrell3
MA: Thanks -- there is some more about childhood in Moral Disorder...

How do you know a novel is really finished? zoemavroudi
MA: You never know when a book is really finished. But it's the part where you say "I can't go on..."

What are you currently reading and what is your favourite book? lindsey_mp
MA: Currently reading Half Blood Blues; don't have only one favourite book!

Why do you hate men so much in your writing? pretzelboi
MA: Like which men? I recall both baddies and goodies in my work, though you'll find much worse men in writing by, um, men.

How do you see the future for books, now that papers are folding and people are more into social media than into reading? zaksam
MA: Oddly, after 2 years of downs, newspapers (in Canada) are way up this year. Reading too is up, though delivery systems are changing.

What will be the fairy tales of the future? faintlyfalling
MA: Dark, those fairy tales of the future. But fairy tales have always been dark.

You've earned & been blessed with a ‘storybook’ writing career. Any advice to emerging writers in today's publishing climate? MusiVision_Logo
MA: May look like storybook from the outside; from the inside, more like storybook woods with ogres in them... As for advice to emerging writers: it's tough right now. Time of change, old models not working. But explore all options. And you might like to view O'Reilly's Tools of Change, Atwood, Publishing Pie presentation on this subject. I gave in Feb.

Looking back over 20+ years, what do you think now of the film adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale? tobythepig
MA: I personally would not choose to hide out from people with helicopters in a red trailer on top of a hill. Just sayin'.
MA: Good byeee everyone -- Tx for your q's! Happy reading! M.

In Other Worlds by Margaret Atwood is out now, published by Virago. Photo courtesy of George Whiteside.

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