Seven things I learned at Margaret Atwood’s Texas Book Festival panel

Margaret Atwood

Canadian author Margaret Atwood, known for award-winning dystopian novels such as “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Oryx and Crake,” talked politics, libraries, writing, vampires and more at the Texas Book Festival. Some moments from her panel:

1. Her high school aptitude test determined she should be a garage mechanic.

2. She used Charles Dickens’ quill pen when she became a fellow in the Royal Society of Literature.

3. She describes the process of writing as being like mud wrestling. Her books, she says, are not completely planned out before writing. “I’m much less thoughtful than you might think,” she says.

4. But, apparently, she likes mud wrestling. “I had possibly a little bit too much fun” she says of writing her latest novel, “The Heart Goes Last,” which involves economic collapse, prison and sex robots, among other things. “You don’t want to suffer too much at my age.”

5. Her next book will be a “revisiting” of “The Tempest.” Says Atwood: “I think Shakespeare wrote it just because they’d just discovered how to make thunder” in theater productions.

6. Her humor is dry but quick. When asked about her long interest in women’s rights, Atwood looked around the Texas House chamber and said, to wild applause, “Apparently you can make legislation up here. We could do a snap vote and reverse some laws.” On a more serious note, in regards to recent legislation in Texas, she urged to audience to think about “who wants there to be a lot of poor children, and what do they want them for?”

7. She is featured on an episode of “Zombies Run,” an interactive exercise app, in which she delivers details of the zombie apocalypse, including the tragic news that all of the NHL has become zombified.


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