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Margaret Atwood Zombies

October 25, 2012 by  

Margaret Atwood Zombies, Just in time for Halloween, Canada’s most decorated literary doyenne – Margaret Atwood – has co-written a serialized zombie novel with a promising British author that will be posted chapter by chapter at the Canadian-based story-sharing website Wattpad.

Atwood, the Booker-and Giller-prize-winning author of such renowned works as The Blind Assassin, Oryx and Crake and Alias Grace, was scheduled to upload the first chapter of the new comic-horror novel – titled The Happy Zombie Sunrise Home and co-authored by 37-year-old U.K. writer Naomi Alderman – today to www.wattpad.com.

Alderman’s first chapter and Atwood’s second instalment are also expected to be available today, with other chapters to appear weekly until the narrative concludes (barring an unexpected afterlife) in early January.

In an excerpt of the story made available to Postmedia News, Atwood’s narrator sets the scene of an apparent zombie infestation in Toronto, where the risen undead roam about the city in search of living humans to devour.

(Note to Canada: Let the metaphorical interpretations of Hogtown’s night of the living dead pour forth.) “I, for one, am not about to allow my arm be chewed off just because another person – another former person – is feeling like a snack,” Atwood’s unfazed, rhubarb-growing, zombie-killing retiree, Clio, a cucumber-cool, garden-tool-wielding resident of upscale Rosedale, states in the novel’s opening lines.

Although Atwood has made celebrated and chilling forays into the world of science fiction – or what she has preferred to label “speculative fiction” – with novels such as The Handmaid’s Tale, her embrace of pop culture’s ongoing fascination with zombies (in films such as Dawn/ Shaun/Juan of the Dead, and in annual, pre-Halloween corpse parades in towns and cities everywhere) may come as a surprise to her millions of fans in Canada and around the world. But as a writer who gained national prominence in 1969 with a first novel titled The Edible Woman, the 72-yearold Atwood has evidently been intrigued by cannibalism – at least on a figurative level – for decades.

“We are so proud that Margaret and Naomi chose Wattpad as a way to quickly and easily share this work with a global audience of millions,” Wattpad CEO Allen Lau, the Canadian high-tech entrepreneur who launched the storytelling website in 2006, said in announcing the authors’ new zombie novel.

“They both understand the new patterns of engagement that are happening around serially published stories,” he added. “The majority of people on Wattpad are reading on their mobile phones, so we believe there is a great fit between serialization and today’s mobile-first, social networked culture. The chapter-by-chapter model is something that is helping many writers connect with readers to find success.”

The two writers embarked on the zombie project after Atwood selected Alderman – who already has several published works – as her apprentice wordsmith through the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, described as “an international program that pairs established artists with emerging artists in the fields of literature, architecture, dance, film, music, theatre and visual arts for a year of creative collaboration.”

In a statement about the zombie tale issued by Wattpad, the two writers are said to have enjoyed “setting each other up” by ending instalments in a way that requires the other author to “write her way out of an emotionally heavy scene” or – in one case of retaliation by Alderman – “leaving frightful problems for Atwood to solve” following an “insanely action-packed” sequence of events.

“The whole process kept me on my toes; it was a lot of fun,” Atwood said in a statement. “We shared interests in technology, the history of religion, and little-known monsters.”

Alderman acknowledged that “it was pretty daunting to know that my words would be sitting next to those of my personal writing hero. But once I managed to swallow that – like a zombie chewing on delicious brains – it became gleefully joyful to think of some interesting challenges and new wrinkles on what we’d done already.” Earlier this year, Atwood agreed to lend her name to a new online poetry prize – “The Attys” – sponsored by Wattpad, which claims a global community of about 10 million users.

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