Margaret Atwood at Nottingham’s Albert Hall

I’m always wary of meeting my heroes. No one has ever really topped meeting Mathew Corbet and Sooty, as a child. But when the chance came to see Margaret Atwood in my home town, I had to jump at it.

I first came across Atwood’s work in lower sixth. The Handmaid’s Tale was the first real dystopian novel I’d read. And it steered me towards Aldous Huxley, Jack McDevitt, H. G. Wells and more. Ultimately, it got me writing SF, as well.

But more importantly, it introduced me to feminism, and affected the rest of my outlook of life.

Sana Aslam and I, securing our seats on the third row.

The Albert Hall in Nottingham was a great venue, and although were were incredibly early for the talk, we still only got on the third row. We did manage to miss the queue, though, which apparently spilled out into the street and down the road. Atwood draws the crowds.

Margart Atwood reads an extract from The Heart Goes Last

The conversation was lead by Joel Stickley, who did a great job in asking the bare minimum and letting Atwood talk. She discussed everything from sex robots to third wave feminism; from video games to affluent vampires, and the real reason zombies’ shirt sleeves are always too short.

‘Women are human beings! And I think, in some places, this still isn’t recognised…’

Atwood also discussed her optimism for the future (‘I hope there will be people!’), and her involvement with the Future Library project.

I was particularly taken with her advice to writers: That ownership of the story passes from writer to reader, and so does interpretation. All you can ask from your readers is that they can read.

Love it.

A small glimpse of the signing queue…

The talk wrapped up with Atwood saying that she won’t be fulfilling one fan’s wish for a Handmaid’s Tale prequel, but the novel is being adapted into a graphic novel, so watch this space!

Sana receives a compliment about her hat!

The gorgeous, signed copies.

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