"Wanting to meet a writer because you like his work is like wanting to meet a duck because you like pâté."
I was at the final event of the Book Festival's Autumn Series - Margaret Atwood reading from her newest book and talking with Jenny Brown (former director of the Book Festival and literary agent). I always try to see her when she's in Edinburgh (Atwood, not Brown), which thankfully she is quite often, and it's always worth the money. She spoke about the night she won the Booker (the award ceremony was taking place in the Guild Hall at the time of the event) and how awkward it was to not spill your veg with a camera hovering nearby.
I found it most interesting to hear about her approach to writing a novel. This is the bit I have trouble with (the actual STARTING of the thing). It seems to be:
1) start writing
2) figure out where you're going with it as you're writing, and
3) research it afterwards to make sure you've not written a load of tosh.
I've perhaps oversimplified (I really hope Margaret Atwood never stumbles across my dusty little corner of the web, I think she'd probably sue). As always though, I came away feeling inspired and thinking 'I can do that!'. But then I get carried away with everyday life and before I know it it's the weekend and I've not written a thing except some guff about my cat. I love my little Coco, but it's hardly Booker-winning material now is it?
During the question and answer session at the end, Atwood pointed out someone in the upper level who was being ignored every time they looked for another question from the audience. She obviously felt the injustice of this and when the Chair tried to go to someone else, Atwood pointed at this person and said, in her Canadian draaawl, 'you had a question, yell it out and I'll repeat it'. The question wasn't forthcoming so she said again 'just yell it out'. This went on for a minute or so (presumably while the person sat frozen with a rabbit-in-headlights look upon their face) and then 'where's that microphone-'. It was at this point that she realised she had been trying to coax the mike runner who worked in the venue, into asking a question! The poor man, being barked at by a scary haired Booker winner in front of 300 people.
He was probably a student just trying to make some beer money, but he got a little more than he bargained for.