An interview with Margaret Atwood

Q: Most of your previous novels have female protagonists. Was it a conscious decision to have a male protagonist for Oryx and Crake, or did Snowman simply present himself to you?

A: Snowman did present himself to me, yes, dirty bedsheet and all. For this novel, a woman would have been less possible. Or let's say that the story would have been quite different. If we are writers, we all have multiple selves. Also, I've known a lot of male people in my life, so I had a lot to draw on.

Q: You've mentioned the fact that while you were writing about fictional catastrophes in Oryx and Crake, a real one occurred on September 11. Did that experience cause you to change the storyline in any way?

A: No, I didn't change the plot. I was too far along for that. But I almost abandoned the book. Real life was getting creepily too close to my inventions — not so much the Twin Towers as the anthrax scare. That turned out to be limited in extent, but only because of the limitations of the agent used. It's an old plot, of course — poisoning the wells. As for blowing things up, the Anarchists were at it for fifty years in the later nineteenth and earlier twentieth centuries. Joseph Conrad has a novel about it (The Secret Agent). So does Michael Ondaatje (In the Skin of a Lion). And the Resistance in World War Two devoted itself to such things. The main object of these kinds of actions is to sow panic and dismay.
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | Next >>