By Amy Woolvett
THE COAST GUARD
“Can you interview Margaret Atwood on Monday,” my editor called from his office.
Surely he doesn’t mean the Margaret Atwood. Not the Margaret Atwood that wrote one of my favourite books of all times, The Handmaid’s Tale not to mention feminist, activist, poet and most honoured and respected author of fiction today.
She is the winner of numerous national and international awards and author of more than 50 volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction and non-fiction and a member of the Order of Canada.
When I found out this was indeed the right woman, I couldn’t stop grinning.
My first questions were why is she coming to Clyde River?
Atwood is a local name and it turns out that she is a direct descendant of Herbert “Leslie” Atwood, her grandfather.
While Atwood was visiting Nova Scotia in part to help support local South Shore libraries. An event was held in Bridgewater where $100 tickets were sold to those wanting to meet Atwood and hear a reading.
But her first stop was the basement of a Clyde River church.
A small group of fans and family gathered in the room and when Atwood entered she was instantly recognizable to me with her curly hair and intelligent eyes that for years I only knew from the back cover of a dust jacket.
I waited until the group of people clustered around her thinned out and introduced myself, first as a fan and second as a reporter.
“Are you related to me,” Atwood asked.
Um, no…although come to think of it she does look an awful lot like me. But since I have no family roots in Nova Scotia the likelihood was slim.
Most of the people in the room were of relation to her except maybe a handful.
When Atwood was growing up she would come to the area to spend summers.
“It is very familiar to me and I am related to everybody,” she told me.
At the luncheon many people spoke of the Atwood family including the history of spunk, so much that when an Atwood would get riled up, they used to refer to it as getting the Atwood up.
Margaret Atwood has a history of getting the Atwood up and her latest fight involves protecting public libraries.
She said that her love of books was developed as a young child in Clyde River.
“The house didn’t get electricity until 1961 but it was full of books,” she said. “If you grew up in that house, you were a reader.”
She said that her love of reading lead her to her love of writing.
The way she explained it, it seems as if growing up summers in Clyde River inspired the most influential writers of our time.
She did say that Alias Grace, a novel based in the 19th century, was inspired by her summers in Clyde River.
“In the way the people in the book conducted their homestead was the way people did here,” she explained.