Perfect storms: writing Oryx and Crake
by Margaret Atwood
Oryx and Crake was begun in March, 2001. I was still on a book tour for my previous novel, The Blind Assassin, but by that time I had reached Australia. After I'd finished the book-related events, my spouse and I and two friends travelled north, to Max Davidson's camp in the monsoon rain forest of Arnheimland. For the most part we were bird-watching, but we also visited several open-sided cave complexes where Aboriginal people had lived continuously, in harmony with their environment, for tens of thousands of years. After that we went to Cassowary House, near Cairns, operated by Philip Gregory, an extraordinary birder; and it was while looking over Philip's balcony at the red-necked crakes scuttling about in the underbrush that Oryx and Crake appeared to me almost in its entirety. I began making notes on it that night.
I hadn't planned to begin another novel so soon after the previous one. I'd thought I might take some time off, write a few short pieces, clean out the cellar. But when a story appears to you with such insistence you can't postpone it.