What should I ask Margaret Atwood?
September 6, 2015 12:33 AM   Subscribe

In about three weeks, I will be interviewing Margaret Atwood in front of a live audience as part of the promotional tour for her new novel. There will be some latitude to talk about her back catalogue and career as well as the new book. Tell me, Atwood fans, what should I ask her?
posted by him to Writing & Language (16 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I believe she refuses to enter herself for literary prizes that are only open to women (please double check!). That might be an interesting angle to look at.
posted by matthew.alexander at 4:18 AM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh, this is so cool! I don't have a coherent question, but I'd want to ask her something about her interest and involvement in genre fiction, comics, and video games, which (for me, anyway) sets her apart from your average brilliant novelist.
posted by thetortoise at 4:55 AM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

I love interview questions about what surprised the interviewee. Maybe something like: what about your life now would be surprising to you at age 20? Or: have you been pleasantly surprised about anything in the literary world, or the speculative fiction world (or whatever terms she prefers) lately?
posted by amtho at 5:04 AM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Probably not ask her about the genre thing. I was recently at a Q&A with David Mitchell where that came up and he almost visibly rolled his eyes. I think people like Mitchell & Atwood get a lot of genre questions.

Personally I'd probably go the feminist angle and ask her questions about how she sees feminism in the 21st century. I'd also ask about climate change, feminism and reactionary politics in the 21st century. I think that'd be a really meaty answer.
posted by kariebookish at 5:52 AM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Actually, Mitchell mentioned both he & Atwood are involved in the Library of the Future. That'd be a great question - why she is handing over a book that won't be read for a 100 years.
posted by kariebookish at 5:53 AM on September 6, 2015 [10 favorites]

Ask her about her Twitter relationship with comedian Rob Delaney.
posted by saladin at 6:17 AM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Ask her what it is about her which makes her so freaking cool.
Like Woz or Bill Murray she just seems an incredibly wonderful human being, why is that?
posted by fullerine at 7:32 AM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'd love to know her process physically. mentally. emotionally and spiritually. How does she fine point these ideas, and in some cases, predictive...and put it all down on paper?
posted by gypseefire at 11:16 AM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'd love to know what her current thoughts are on some of her older work. I still love 'The Edible Woman' for instance. What does she make of her eaerlier works, now?
posted by JoannaC at 12:51 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Whatever became of Long Pen? Has she used it since?

Speaking of Atwood and how she uses technology, she famously went head-to-head with the Ford brothers (whom she dubbed the Twin Fordmayor) via Twitter, in defence of the Toronto Public Library when they made it clear they wanted to undermine it.

Related to that:

What's the value of public libraries, particularly as bricks-and-mortar institutions, in a technological age?

What can people do individually to support and nurture their local library?

How has Twitter changed how she engages in public debate?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:57 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Her presence on Twitter is amazing. I'd love to slide in a question about that.
posted by barnone at 1:00 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

A question that often gets a startled but positive response at Q&As of convention VIP's : Is there anything that you would really like to talk about publicly, but you never get asked in interviews?
posted by Vigilant at 3:17 PM on September 6, 2015 [6 favorites]

I haven't read Margaret Atwood, but Echidne of the Snakes is a very good blogger who's a big Atwood fan. If you send her an email, I'm positive your question will be welcome and that you'll get a great answer.
posted by O. Bender at 7:52 AM on September 7, 2015

If the ghost of Octavia Butler paid you a visit and wanted to chat, what would you want to talk about?

Has the social construct of race had an impact on your writing?

I was struck by a scene in the movie of A Handmaid's Tale that seemed to imply there was a racial backdrop, but given some of Canada's demographic background, perhaps the is some First Nation impact.
posted by childofTethys at 8:19 PM on September 8, 2015

Hey! I was at this tonight! You did good work!
posted by minsies at 1:44 PM on September 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks! She was predictably brilliant and the venue and turnout were fantastic, so I really didn't have to do too much to make it a success. Good conversation about a lot of things in this thread plus, for some reason, we talked at great length about people having sex with furniture.

Thanks for coming, minsies. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
posted by him at 2:46 PM on October 6, 2015

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