On a hot day in June, I went to Margaret Atwood’s Toronto home to ask her some questions about how the digital revolution that is currently shaking up the publishing industry feels from a writer’s perspective. Her interest in technology and the ways in which it shapes civil society has featured in many of her novels, not least The Handmaid’s Tale and, most recently, The Year of the Flood; she’s an avid blogger and Tweeter, and she’s the inventor of the LongPen. As well as being technologically literate, she earned a reputation as something of a psychic in 2008 after the publication of Payback, a book about debt culture that rather presciently appeared to predict the ensuing economic downturn. As publishers, editors and writers continue to brace themselves for the great unknown, I welcomed her characteristically lucid and far-sighted thoughts on a subject ridden with hyperbole.
RP: In a recent interview for the iPhone app of The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Philip Pullman likened being a writer, at this moment of technological uncertainty, to being strapped to the front of a speeding train with no driver. Does that metaphor ring true