Q&A: Margaret Atwood

Compared to the doomsday chaos of Oryx and Crake, the rebuilding of the brave new world in MaddAddam is a lot more fun.

 Fun? Well, there is a kind of fun that isn’t ha-ha jolly fun but is still very engaging, yes.

It’s summer campy.

But summer campy for real. Your parents are not going to come at the end and collect you. Think Lord of the Flies, only with grownups and they don’t all end up going out of control.

These novels are built from careful research-every biological horror is possible. Has a decade of reading changed how you take in the news?

I was always looking at those stories. I am a subscriber to New Scientist and a reader of Scientific American and Discover, and I did grow up amongst biologists. If I hadn’t veered off into the black sheep world of writing, I’d probably be cloning your potatoes right this minute.

Don’t do that.

You’ll thank me later.

There’s no dearth of reasons to worry about the End Times. But do we worry enough?

It’s a lot like the reactions at the time to the Black Death: some people did the raping and pillaging, some did the helping, some did the recording, and some did the running away.

Those are the choices when a big cataclysm happens. As long as people think there is something they can do, they will help because people are inherently social and helpful. Once they think there isn’t anything they can do, they tune out, have a party, say, “It’s not up to me.”

And you’re wired to do the helping and the recording.

I’m afraid so. At least, I’m not doing the running away yet.

When you run, it’s time for all of us to run.

Well, there aren’t a lot of places we can run to anymore, are there?

The Vancouver Writers Fest is Oct. 22 to 27. Writersfest.bc.ca