Current Conditions

Partly Cloudy

'Must be the astrology': Margaret Atwood on her work having 'a moment'

Author Margaret Atwood sits for a portait on Thursday, July 28, 2016. Margaret Atwood is going through a career renaissance that has her baffled. "Very weird. It's what we call 'a moment," said the 77-year-old Ottawa native, who has written more than 40 books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim
April 10, 2017 - 7:06 AM

TORONTO - Margaret Atwood is going through a career renaissance that has her baffled.

"Very weird. It's what we call 'a moment,'" said the 77-year-old Ottawa native, who has written more than 40 books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays.

"It must be the astrology. I can't account for it. I think a lot of things just converged and I don't know why it all happened in one year."

The internationally acclaimed Toronto author, known as the Queen of CanLit, has been the talk of the international TV world lately with several upcoming adaptations of her work.

There's "Wandering Wenda," which is based on her alliteration-filled children's series and premieres April 29 on CBC.

"The Handmaid's Tale," adapted from her 1985 Governor General's Award-winning dystopian novel, debuts April 26 on the streaming service Hulu in the U.S., and April 30 on Bravo in Canada. The entire first season will also launch on Bell Media's streaming service CraveTV this spring.

Her 1996 Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning historical tale "Alias Grace" is also due in miniseries form this fall on CBC in Canada and Netflix elsewhere.

Plus, MGM Television has acquired the rights to adapt her 2015 novel "The Heart Goes Last."

"There's yet another one yet to come, which has not been announced, so I can't tell you about that," Atwood said in a recent phone interview.

"A lot of the stars have aligned."

While Atwood didn't create all of these screen projects, she has been involved, either as a consultant or as an executive producer.

On "Alias Grace," Oscar-nominated writer and producer Sarah Polley said she checked in with Atwood every step of the way and had her on set for a cameo role. Sarah Gadon stars as Grace Marks, a young Irish immigrant and maid convicted of murder in Upper Canada in 1843. She was exonerated after about 30 years behind bars.

Atwood said she also spent "a good deal of time" discussing the concepts for the TV adaptation of "The Handmaid's Tale" with creator Bruce Miller. The story is set in a male-dominated, totalitarian society ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats women as property of the state. Elisabeth Moss of "Mad Men" fame stars as Offred, who is torn from her daughter and enslaved by her male owner. The cast also includes Samira Wiley, Alexis Bledel, Joseph Fiennes and Max Minghella.

Atwood said she's watched several episodes already. When told the trailers have induced chills amongst some viewers, she said: "It's extremely strong. Just you wait. You're going to get even more chills."

"The Handmaid's Tale" — both the series and book — is grabbing much attention these days, with some saying the story seems eerily prescient in the Trump era.

"I didn't put anything into the book that hadn't already happened then," countered Atwood, noting the book was written in 1984 and published a year later.

Atwood, who recently received a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Critics Circle, is no stranger to the screen world: there was a 1990 film adaptation of "The Handmaid's Tale" and a 1981 reimagining of her novel "Surfacing."

Early in her career she also wrote screenplays, including one for her first novel, 1969's "The Edible Woman," which never got made.

"I also wrote them here and there throughout the '70s as a screenwriter, and some of those got done and some of them didn't get done, but it was one of the things I did," she said.

"I don't think I'd do it now because it's a lot of work."

Atwood offers one possible explanation for all this new interest around her books.

"The appearance of the streamed episodic television series has really expanded the possibilities for a lot of novelists," she said. "It's created a whole other way of telling stories, in filmic form."

Asked if she binge-watches series, Atwood said she does, but with boxed DVD sets.

"What we just finished was an English series called 'Foyle's War,' set in (the Second World War). It's very good," she said.

She added with her signature wry wit: "People of our generation like it because we recognize all the outfits. We were there."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

  • Popular penticton News
  • Comments
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile