Margaret Atwood on slugs, scrap paper and Shakespeare envy
The reigning queen of Canadian literature answers 20 questions from Canadian writer and provocateur Dany Laferrière. (Oh, and we think he might have made her blush.)
1. If you were Alice, would you rather stay in Wonderland on the other side of the mirror, or come back to the real world to tell your story?
Being a writer, I would of course come back. Like Gilgamesh. And like Alice, come to think of it. Besides, Wonderland was getting a bit hot for her, as I recall.
2. If your home were on fire, what prized keepsake would you grab on your way out?
My partner, Graeme Gibson.
3. What childhood fear do you still have as an adult?
4. Would it be okay to have a miserable childhood if that were a prerequisite for becoming a writer?
Does one have a choice? Of course there are many who have miserable childhoods and do not become writers.
5. Do you wake up at night to read or write?
Both. Same with the morning.
6. Do you feel anxious or excited when you start to write?
7. Does darkness soothe you or frighten you?
Depends where it is and what’s in it. Stepping on slugs at midnight: not good. Fireworks at dusk: wonderful.
8. Do you tend to hang on to a thousand little scraps of paper, or do you regularly clean out your drawers?
The scrap option.
9. Which animal would you rather be: a cat or a dog?
I’d rather be a dog, but Fate would have me a cat. How about a blend: fox?
10. Does love dry up your creative juices or make them flow faster?
What kind of love? What kind of juices? I’m a bit old to be talking about what I think you mean.
11. Do you remember your dreams?
If they’re any good, yes.
12. What’s your favourite colour?
13. What’s your favourite season?
14. Does pressure motivate you?
Absolutely. Which is why I keep creating it.
15. Would you rather live to write or write to live?
The former leads to the latter.
16. What published book do you secretly wish you had written?
The Collected Works of Shakespeare. But that’s cheating. Apart from that, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
17. Are you the paranoid type or calm, cool and collected?
Can’t I be both?
18. What would qualify as the afternoon of your dreams?
19. Are you more like the sun or the moon?
Can’t I be a planet? Or a galaxy? Or a supernova?
20. Do you hear voices?
So far, only when someone’s talking. It’s when they’re talking and you don’t hear them that you really have to worry.
Margaret Atwood is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. Her latest book is Stone Mattress. Other recent publications include MaddAddam, the third novel in the Oryx and Crake trilogy, and Moral Disorder, a collection of interconnected short stories, The Door, a volume of poetry (both 2007), Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (2008), and In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, a collection of essays on science fiction. Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.
Other books by Margaret Atwood: