Speculative fiction author Margaret Atwood (“The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Oryx and Crake”) is no stranger to technology — she was an early adopter of the Internet, invented a device called the LongPen that lets authors sign books from a great distance, engages in the crowdsourced fiction site Wattpad, won the L.A. Times Book Prizes Innovator’s Award, and has more than 600,000 followers on Twitter, which she uses to connect with fans (and flirt with comedian Rob Delaney).
So it’s no surprise that Atwood did a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session Monday. The Canadian author talked about books, politics and why her theoretical relationship with Sherlock Holmes would be doomed to fail. Here are some of her more interesting responses:
On her writing habits: “I would like to say I write every day (and I certainly tell other people they should!) but I have to admit I don’t always do it. I try to write at least something, even if it’s a letter or a to-do list, or a Reddit AMA ...”
On what she’s been reading lately: “Ah. So many things! Right now I am re-reading Alice Munro’s ‘Lives of Girls and Women’ (1971), because I am writing a piece on it for a collection of essays on her work. I’m also reading a collection of three stories called ‘The Woman Who Loved Her Children Until They Moved Back Home,’ by the Russian writer Ludmilla [Petrushevskaya]. Very strong and sad.”
On reading negative reviews of her work: “George Eliot used to go to the Continent when her books were published, and her husband would censor the reviews, and read her only the good parts. I once reviewed one of my own books under a pseudonym, and made up the critics cited, all of whose names were anagrams of mine.”
On which literary character she’d like to date: “Some fine upstanding young man, pure in thought and deed, like Daniel Deronda, or a sexy scamp like Rhett Butler? Maybe a good conversationalist, at my age? I fancy Sherlock Holmes, but he doesn’t date much, and anyway the date would be interrupted because he would have to rush off in the middle of it to trap some criminal.”
On her work and American politics: “ ‘The [Handmaid’s] Tale’ was practically a meme during the last presidential election, due to the Four Unwise Republicans who opened their mouths and said what was on their minds in relation to Unreal Rape and the ability of a raped woman’s body to somehow Just Not Get Pregnant.”
On her Twitter boyfriend Rob Delaney: “Rob picked me up on Twitter, simply because he likes (it seems) reading my books, and his Followers egged us on. ... I don’t think writers should feel forced to use social media if it’s something that interferes with them or makes them feel uncomfortable. I got into it by accident, partly because I like exploring new gizmos of all types, partly because I built a website for ‘The Year of the Flood.’ I like Twitter because it’s short, and because I can put things there that I like, or that I think people should know about. But it’s not for everyone.”