X

Posts Tagged ‘Atwood’

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Hulu Redux

This week I watched the season finale of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ on Hulu, which is a surprisingly fresh take on the classic novel by Margaret Atwood. The first season—and I was pleased to read it has been renewed for a second season—begins and ends in sync with the events of the book, leaving its viewers at that same moment of uncertain outcome for Offred, the handmaid from whose perspective the story is told, but with the resonance of hope that change is afoot in the totalitarian regime of Gilead, which subjugates women under its own Western evangelical version of extremist sharia law.

Having loved the novel for its language as much as the story, I was unsure whether I’d be drawn in to the series when it first aired. Elizabeth Moss plays Offred in a manner that was different than I’d imagined her in my reading, so it took me a few episodes to adjust to that difference. What excites me is that Ms. Atwood is a consulting producer and was extensively involved in developing this project for television. The series storyline is true to the novel, but expands upon it and modernizes it in ways that feel natural and not at all like a departure from the book, but rather a deepening of it. I watched knowing that—as the plot revealed new information or background about the characters and events—it reflected an enlarged vision of this world endorsed its author, and as such was not just the committee-creation of a roundtable of writers (no offense meant to television writers, who produce a lot of amazing content for us to enjoy). Hulu’s remake of this classic story feels both familiar and true to the book, while at the same time refreshingly new and exciting.

And so I’m looking forward to season two like a fan girl who finally gets to read the sequel to a beloved book over 30 years after its original publication, except that this sequel is being formatted for television.

FOUR DAYS WITH MARGARET ATWOOD

I just returned from a workshop in Key West led by Margaret Atwood, the focus of which was story openings. The intimate size (12 participants) combined with the setting (the back patio of Ms. Atwood’s vacation house) created a cozy atmosphere and helped ease our first-day jitters about being read and critiqued by a rock star of the literary world.

The workshop was part of the Key West Literary Society’s “In Other Worlds” 2012 seminar. The criteria for admission were two-fold:  1) our stories must set on Earth in the near future, and 2) Ms. Atwood must accept us based on a writing sample.

My novel-in-progress (“Underneath Us”) opens in the ruins of Las Vegas in 2069, so I was excited to learn of this opportunity, and—subsequently—of my acceptance into the workshop.

The first morning we gathered quietly around the poolside table, awaiting the start of the workshop and making chit-chat, unsure what to expect. When Ms. Atwood joined us, she offered a brief “good morning,” then laid five white cards on the table with “STOP TALKING” printed on them. These were for us to use, she explained, if we felt anyone was becoming long-winded. We chuckled and, after brief introductions, embarked on the business of workshopping.

As it turned out, we had a great group and no one tried to dominate the discussions, so the white cards disappeared after that first morning. The workshop was comprised of readings, group commentary, line-editing, and examining the internal consistency of our world-building. Ms. Atwood also recounted many summaries of books and movies that might be relevant to our stories (including “The Head That Wouldn’t Die” and “The Creeping Eye”).

My turn came on the last day, by which time we’d grown comfortable as a group—and I’d observed the grace and kindness with which Ms. Atwood offered her criticisms of our work—so I wasn’t feeling too nervous. I received useful feedback and line-edits, as well as a wonderful compliment when Ms. Atwood said, “You know how to open a story.”  [*Insert happy dance here.*]

As souvenirs of my experience, I returned home with an autographed copy of my marked-up manuscript, a “STOP TALKING” card, and—most importantly—new friendships with people who care about books and writing as much as I do.

Thank you, Ms. Atwood, for having us.

(Gratitude and credit for the fabulous photos to Cat Sparks.  http://catsparks.net/ )

 

 

 

About Alex Tillson

After 15 years of entertainment law practice in Los Angeles, Alex now resides in West Palm Beach, Florida with her family. Her books are represented by Laurie McLean of the Fuse Literary Agency.

Read More »

My Book Progress

Underneath Us
Phase:First Draft
44.2%
© 2017 Alex Tillson. All Rights Reserved. Background Artwork by Phil McDarby.