New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Margaret Atwood Discusses “The Testaments” at Town Hall

The acclaimed author of “The Handmaid’s Tale” joined Samantha Bee at The Town Hall to answer questions about her writing process and newest book.
Margaret Atwood spoke about her book, The Handmaid’s Tale, on Sept. 20 at Town Hall. (Via Wikimedia)

“Was there ever a better time to drop a book?” Samantha Bee asked the packed auditorium. 

On Friday, Sept. 20, Bee hosted “An Evening with Margaret Atwood” at The Town Hall, a historic midtown performance space, during which the author answered a series of questions regarding her newest book, “The Testaments”, a sequel to her famed novel “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

Atwood said she hadn’t originally planned to write a sequel, but history changed her mind. 

The author found much of the inspiration for her book in social issues and significant historical occurrences, and she said that history “never really was the yellow brick road.” She explained that she decided to write “The Testaments” because “history started up again,” citing events such as 9/11 and the economic crash of 2008. 

When Bee asked if there were warning signs for the future political landscape hidden within the book, Atwood replied, “We still have a chance to vote, cherish it.”

Bee also inquired about the role of activism in the book. Atwood said that “any form of dystopia is always a blueprint” for society, and that readers have to ask themselves if they wish to live in that society. If the answer is no, it’s a sign to take preventative action, and that’s where activism comes in. 

When asked what she wanted readers to take away from “The Testaments,” Atwood said that reading is an “individual act,” and the writer has no control over how their books will be received.  

“You cannot know, you cannot tell, you cannot dictate,” she said. 

Bee then read a number of questions sent in by fans, many of which revolved around Atwood’s writing process. 

Atwood said that writing energizes her, but that she is not interested in writing the story of her life. Instead, she wants to write about society as a whole. 

She then addressed her solutions for writer’s block, which include abandoning the project, sleeping or engaging in a repetitive task, ironing being her favorite. She described the process of starting a new book as analogous to running into a cold lake screaming.

Towards the end of the night, Atwood announced that she is currently working on her next collection of poetry. She also addressed aspiring authors who are scared of sharing their work with the public, leaving them with one piece of advice: “Stop being chicken, just run in screaming.”

Email Dani Herrera at [email protected].

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