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Margaret Atwood
The Handmaidís Tale, Oryx and Crake and now The Year of the Flood. How does it feel to see some of the themes in your ďspeculativeĒ novels creeping nearer to reality?
I would really much rather be ďwrong.Ē I do emphasize that these books are fiction ó you wonít see anyone marching along the street in floor-length red outfits any time soon -- but the similarity between some of the overall patterns in the books and some in real life is alarming.
Canada has produced many outstanding wordsmiths of all kinds - writers, poets and songwriters. Is there something in the water?
Thatís very sweet. Iím sure weíre all glad you like our words! I suppose you might construct a theory based on large distances and the need to communicate over them. Canadians do indeed use long-distance technologies a great deal. It may have to do also with the fact that we are a small country right next to a very big one. We donít have a Hollywood or even a Bollywood, but words are free and you can arrange them with no large capital investment required.
You are obviously a political animal. Have you ever considered getting into party politics?
That would be my vision of a nightmare! Iím not political in the party-politics sense. I recently said I would vote for a Turnip if The Turnip were open, accountable, and democratic, and thatís true. I think freelance artists get shoved to the front of the line in the speak-up department because we donít have ďjobsĒ and canít be fired ó so are asked to blather on for those with more of that kind of thing at risk. I am not an ďactivistĒ either, by the way: itís not my job, I have no staff, research team, and so forth. I just seem to get sucked into various scuffles by the laws of vacuum and gravity...
You have thoroughly embraced the Twittersphere and your tweets are highly entertaining. Youíve even created avatars for some of your followers. Has the realm of the blogosphere affected your approach to your writing?
Thanks, and a LOL wave to all the T-pals :) (Big debate: whether to make the Smiley Face With :-) or Without :) a nose? I started With, but learned that Without is more archaic, and also it looks more like a frog, so Iíve Iíve switched.)

Twitter and blogging are quite different. Twitter is more like a conversation or bulletin board, whereas bloggingís ancestor is the personal essay as developed by Addison and Steele in the 18th C. I am behind on my blogging and will probably have to give it up. Itís too time-consuming, and I have a couple of books Iím supposed to be writing. But I will post a 12 Hopeful Gifts list for the holidays, and a few other things, before petering out.
Do you agree there is a 'boyís club' when it comes to literary accolades? Iím thinking Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, Don DeLillo Ė last 3 PEN/Saul Bellow Award in the US and then thereís the UK gang of 3 - Rushdie, Amis, McEwan. Does it matter?
Oh, my dear. You are asking the wrong person. I am almost at post-award stage anyway. (In my office we have a contest going on about which award object would make the best murder weapon. Some of them are quite heavy and pointy.)

As for Can Men Write: well, yes, many of them can. They should not be excluded from awards just because they are men. :)
Who would you invite to join your fantasy bookgroup?
Iím choosing only dead people. Otherwise, resentment sets in. All are chosen for their ability as readers and conversationalists. This book group would be hilarious!

Angela Carter. Marian Engel. P.K. Page. Matt Cohen. Morley Callaghan (though he would have to be told to behave himself). Al Purdy (ditto). Mordecai Richler. John Updike. Northrop Frye. These are all dead people I have known.

Of the ones I didnít know: Jane Austen. Charles Dickens (or would he hog the stage)? Mark Twain. Thackeray. Maybe Virginia Woolf, but I think she might not come. Dorothy Parker. Elizabeth Smart, if she could be bothered. Oscar Wilde. Max Beerbohm.

We would have Lemon Squares and Tea for some, coffee for others, Scotch for yet others, and martinis for the rest. And a beer or two, because itís Canada, eh?
Margaret Atwood

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