We regret that due to the technical limitations of our site, we are unable to offer eBooks or Audio Downloads to customers outside of the UK.

For further details please read our eBooks help.

Blog

Ask Atwood: The Answers

We asked our Twitter followers for questions to ask Margaret Atwood - and today, on the publication of her new collection of tales, Stone Mattress - here are her answers to some of our favourites.

Posted on 28th August 2014 by Guest contributor

 

Ask Atwood header

 

Susan MacRae @whitefox_ca Dear @MargaretAtwood how are you today? Hope you are doing well.

- Very well, thank you! Except for the rose thorns I stuck in myself while transplanting. And you?

 

Jon Fern @jfernwriter Would you have continued to write had you never been published?

- Probably, as when I started – Canada, mid-1950s – not much prospect of getting published anyway. Wrote buckets before publication!

 

Celian Chan @ss10cshc What do you do to overcome writer's block? How do you generate ideas for stories? 

- Never been plagued by block. I switch to another form or project if stuck. I have too many ideas – no need to generate them!

 

Leanne MacMillan @Saskmacl Has the meaning of The Edible Woman changed for u over the years? Reading again, always learning.

- Yes, it all changes as one gets older; perspective shifts. I also see some small edits I would have done :-)

 

pietercrous @pietercrous When in your writing process do you decide how the chronology of the novel will unfold?

- Structure! Always a hurdle. What to tell when? I make time charts & birthday charts. I shift blocks around throughout the writing.

 

Georgia Vinall @Just_me_georgie How does it feel knowing students are currently studying your poetry? X

- Like having a thousand little angels and whatnot painted on the ceiling, looking down.. but then.. They come to life! Yikes!

 

B e t h a n y @Apieceof_B I'm writing dystopian poetry for my dissertation - what advice would you give for creating a unique world?

- Stay true to your assumptions about that world. Be plausible. Put yourself there: what would you eat? Wear? Feel?

 

Dom Nozahic @domnozahic Your novels explore a vast quantity of times/themes/events. Is that necessary to evolve as a writer?

- Don’t worry about it. Write what compels you. I’m a curious raven/coyote, but others are elephants/whales/polar bears: more focused on one path.

 

Esther Brazil @estherdaponte what's your writing routine?

- Haha, I wish I had one!  Whatever, whenever, with whatever.  So it goes.

 

Robert Misner @Wordsicle What initially inspired the character of Snowman from Oryx and Crake?

- A bunch of guys I knew :-)  Robinson Crusoe. And Alex the Parrot, who was real.

 

Alison Saint @AlisonSaint Which character in your novels makes you most proud?

- Canadians aren’t allowed to express public pride. The best I can say is that some of them aren’t too bad eh?

 

Bethany Usher @bethanyusher Would you ever consider writing a novel about the collapse of the society in Handmaid's Tale?

- We know it DID collapse, as they’re having a seminar about it @ 250 years later. Not sure I’d write about it though…

 

nora stark @watermemon which of your novels did you find most difficult to write?

- The two that never got finished. >:>{  Apart from that, maybe Cat’s Eye. Started it several times at widely spaced intervals.

 

Meg W @mgnwylie have you ever found it hard to share any of your work because its too personal?

- Those things I don’t publish. But if YOU are worried, change the names and hair colours…

 

Tonicha Upham @ColdBrightDay whilst writing, how do you keep track of the layers within your narratives?

- I make charts and use coloured Post-its and tags, and coloured sections onscreen…

 

Celadon Kate @Celadon_kate Do you have a favorite book. that you read more then 5 times?

- Many! Shakespeare often. Haha, Sherlock Holmes.  Austen. Rob’t L. Stevenson. Those I’m writing about..Right now, Alice Munro + Ursula LeGuin.

 

Tricialo @TrishLowt What are you most proud of in your life? (writing or otherwise)

- See “Canadians, not allowed pride.”  But I make quite good oatmeal molasses bread, if I do say so myself.

 

Sinead Dunphy @SineadDunphy11 Which of your works took the most time to write and why?

- I think maybe The Blind Assassin, because it is Looong. But #MaddAddam Trilogy, if I get to count it as one.

 

kristiana r @ksrobotheart do you have the same relationship with writing as you did when you first began?

- No. I’m older. (Craftier, more gun-shy, less naïve possibly.) But in some ways it’s the same. The blank page is still blank. You have to plunge in.

 

Laura Simpson @BookNomming which of your books do you think is a more likely possible future for us?

- I think we risk getting all those futures at once.  But nothing is determined. We still have choices.

 

@Waterstones @MargaretAtwood #AskAtwood Have all the dystopian novels & movies increased or decreased the likelihood of real-life dystopias?

- I’d say it’s a wash, except that more people are more aware of the need for survival skills. Dandelions are edible! Yay!

 

Jen Dalton @JenDalton2 did you know a story is playing out in Ireland now that would be at home in The Handmaid's Tale? (ref http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-28833128)

- Yes, I saw that. People are very, very conflicted on this issue. It won’t be resolved any time soon.

 

Matt Moore @mattmoore1607 does literature influence politics in 2014 as it did when you first began writing?

- Not much in 1956, did in 19th C (slavery, child labour etc.) Politicians find writers a nuisance, in general. Film+music more influential now.

 

 

Stone MattressYou can Click & Collect Stone Mattress: Nine Tales from your local Waterstones bookshop, buy it online at Waterstones.com or download it in ePub format

Add to basket button
Click and collect button
eBook button