The Questionless Books Interview: Novelist Margaret Atwood
Inspired by the Proust Questionnaire, The Questionless Books Interview gets a host of lit-types (authors, editors, publishers, publicists, designers, booksellers, readers, bloggers, journalists, etc.) to finish a bunch of statements about the state of literature and the "future of books".
Margaret Atwood is... well... Margaret Atwood. A novelist, poet, entrepreneur, speaker, and now web personality, she lives in Toronto.
From her website: She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction and is perhaps best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1970), The Handmaid's Tale (1983), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Atwood's dystopic novel, Oryx and Crake, was published in 2003. The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short stories) both appeared in 2006. Her most recent volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, part of the Massey Lecture series, appeared in 2008, and her most recent novel, The Year of the Flood, in the autumn of 2009. Ms. Atwood's work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian. In 2004 she co-invented the Long Pen TM.
I am... Margaret Atwood
I am known to... give short answers to questions like this.
I do this in... between the other things I do.
I do this because... George pestered me.
I do this when I... get home from long trips.
The way I do this is... with a blue felt marker.
At its core, a Writer is... anyone who writes.
As opposed to an Author, who is... the same.
A Writer is responsible for... the quality of his/her writing.
As opposed to an Author, who is responsible for... the same.
At its core, Publishing is... making anything public.
As opposed to Editing, which is... at best, helping to improve the quality of writing.
A Publisher should always... do his/her best. Provide lunch.
As opposed to an Editor, who should always... do his/her best. Provide tea.
A Manuscript that's ready to be read by others is... a happy outcome
As opposed to a Book that's ready to be ready by others, which is... even happier.
A Manuscript should always... be as good as it can be.
As opposed to a Book, which should always... be the same.
At its core, Bookselling is... selling books.
As opposed to Book Marketing, which is... telling others why they should buy books.
The smallest unit of narrative is... the joke.
To be a Book a thing must be... composed of words and probably more than 20 pages long.
The biggest reason to be scared of the future is... horrid weather, which equals crop failures, drying up of lakes, deluges, species extinctions, famines and social upheaval.
The biggest reason to anticipate the future is...fun/useful inventions and discoveries.
In the future we will all... 1) eventually die. 2) have some laughs.
At his/her core, a Reader is... someone who loves to read, enters into the text, gets all the jokes, cries at the sad parts, and bites his/her nails when it’s scary.