Profiled in the National Post. If I ever interview her, she’s totally not railroading me. I’ll stand against her impish charm with a stern facade of unamused indifference. I swear it.
“The moment you get into [writing] something, there really isn’t something else you could have done. Otherwise, you would actually have done it,” she says. “The books I end up writing are the ones that I would rather dodge altogether, but those are really the only ones I can write, because those are the ones I’m obsessed by. It would be so much easier to write an update of Pride and Prejudice and have everything turn out happily. If you don’t have conviction about it, you can’t do it.” Then she laughs. “I can always knit to pass the time. There are other things that I could do. I don’t have to be writing a book.” Pause. “I could play solitaire.”
There’s that laugh again.
The thing about consulting an oracle is that you don’t get to decide how it conveys its message to you. With most authors, an hour and change would be enough to delve into the ideas that went into their latest book. Not so with Atwood. Though a pleasant conversationalist, she is fond of digressions (say, about the state of the publishing industry). And she comes prepared to quibble (for example, explaining why her politics are not necessarily of the left). She responds to a question about which books she’d take with her to the other side of the apocalypse by insisting that we first figure out the scenario.
“Are you allowed ‘collected works of’ or is it just one book? Oh, you’re not making rules? Well, you have to put rules on it or else it’s not real,” she says.