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Crime / JusticeI am an incarcerated human rights activist hacker with Anonymous. My wife is helping me do this from prison. Ask Me Anything!

Mar 11th 2017 by twinkletwit • 25 Questions • 233 Points

I am the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. My novels include The Handmaid's Tale, The Blind Assassin (winner of the 2000 Booker Prize), Oryx and Crake (short-listed for the 2003 Man Booker Prize), The Year of the Flood, and—my most recent novel—Hag-Seed.

Hello: Now it is time to say goodbye! Thank you for all your questions, and sorry I could not get to the end of all of them... save for next time! Very best, Margaret

Q:

Trump is firing every US Attorney without preparing replacements... if that makes you feel better.

A:

What basic steps should everyone take for broadband privacy?


Q:

Was there anything you experienced as a director that changed your outlook as an actor? Thanks Ewan!

A:

How did the drugs get to the front line where they standard issue or handed out by medics who was supplying them?


Q:

What is your guilty pleasure film that you hate to admit you enjoy?

A:

I have faith that the new administration will do the right thing in response to this travesty.


Q:

There are no guarantees, but my colleague from the ACLU has a link to best practices he will share.

But the first step should be to demand that Congress not repeal the current rules. Without them, ISPs don't have to tell you when your information has been breached. They also wouldn't have to ask your permission to share personal information like SS#, geolocation, and web browsing history.

A:

To be more sympathetic to directors.


Q:

They were handed out by medics. They received the so-called "stimulant decree" in April 1940, telling them how much to dish out.

A:

Haha there are so many of them! Just say Miss Congeniality again on a plane -- very funny! Also The Producers and Young Frankenstein. Also Singing in the Rain when depressed. In the World O Vampires, I am a Christopher Lee fa; but also Let The Right One In, Swedish version. Night of the Living Dead, first one... a classy low budget horror film I could go on... :D


Q:

If other patients were affected negatively due to your actions, do you feel as though it was worth it? And if not, was it a risk you were willing to take in order to carry out your objective?

A:

Who is in charge of regulating broadband providers--Congress, the FCC, the FTC, something else? And why?


Q:

Where was the best place you've visited on bike during your trips with Charley?

A:

Did the Nazis view the soldiers as having a meth problem? I remember hearing that Japan gave soldiers drugs to reduce inhibitions about certain missions (kamikaze attacks, etc.). There are also reports of Allied soldiers being given amphetamines. Was the Nazi leadership giving soldiers meth strategically?


Q:

Thank you so much for writing The Handmaid's Tale. It was the book that got me hooked on dystopian novels.

What was your inspiration for the story?

A:

Under international convention and law nothing can justify the torture of a human being. Not even war, the threat of war, or the preservation of human life. Further the US Attorney's Office is obligated under the Convention Against Torture to investigate, prosecute, and punish all acts of torture.

No patients were affected negatively due to my actions. No medical devices were affected and neither was the hospital's internal network, you can see the Huffington Post op-ed for more details.


Q:

Right now, Congress placed the FCC in charge of broadband privacy, through Title II of the Communications Act. The FCC is the sector expert on communications networks, while the FTC has jurisdiction over broad privacy (read: not communications networks) like on websites and average companies. Most Americans have access to only one broadband provider. Maybe two. That's a local monopoly. Because there's little competition for broadband networks, protecting consumers in this specific market is so much more important. That's why the FCC created broadband rules last year. There were rules for telephones for decades, but the FCC wanted to make sure the broadband rules were applicable for the broadband age.

A:

Mongolia is a very special place for me.


Q:

Strategically, absolutely. They issued the so-called "stimulant decree" in April 40, just before the attack on France. I dedicate a large of Blitzed on this.

A:

Ooo, three main things: 1) What some people said they would do re: women if they had the power (they have it now and they are); 2)17th C Puritan New England, plus history through the ages -- nothing in the book that didn't happen, somewhere and 3) the dystopian spec fics of my youth, such as 1984, Ray Bradbury;s Fahrenheit 451, etc. I wanted to see if I could write one of those, too.


Q:

Will you be allowed by law to continue your IT career when you eventually get out of jail?

A:

Who in government is responsible for creating online privacy rules to protect consumers? Don't we already have rules in place?


Q:

How many takes did it take for you to remaster that sadistic smile you have after you roll off the car?

A:

Were drugs used at all levels of the military, or just foot soldiers? How about within the Nazi government?


Q:

What is a book you keep going back to read and why?

PS, Thank you so much!

A:

Like Aaron Schwartz, the prosecution is seeking to bar me from using computing technology for a long time.


Q:

The FCC is the agency responsible for creating rules to protect your privacy online. They did pass rules in October to protect consumers, but right now those rules are about to be eliminated using the CRA. The rules have not even gone into effect yet. - DH

A:

Got it in take 1. Not something I have to work at. :)


Q:

Pervitin (meth) was used by many officers, and it was especially popular among the Panzer divisions who led the Blitzkrieg. In the government there was also rampant use - all the way up to Hitler. But he didn't use meth, he preferred opiods.

A:

This is going to sound corny but Shakespeare is my return read. He knew so much about human nature (+ and minus) and also was an amazing experimenter with language. But there are many other favourites. Wuthering Heights recently. In moments of crisis I go back to (don't laugh) Lord of the Rings, b/c despite the EVIL EYE OF MORDOR it comes out all right in the end. Whew.


Q:

How does one become affiliated with Anonymous? Does one just do something, then say, I am part of Anonymous?

A:

Domain names, unencrypted data, volume of encrypted data. Check out this great report by Upturn on "what ISPs can see": https://www.teamupturn.com/reports/2016/what-isps-can-see


Q:

How hard was it to recreate a character like you did in the first Trainspotting movie?

A:

So foot soldiers weren't on meth? If Hitler wasn't on meth, why was he rocking and shaking during the footage of the 1936 Olympics?

edit: added link


Q:

The Handmaid's Tale gets thrown out as your current worst-case scenario right now but I read The Heart Goes Last a few months ago and I was surprised how possible it felt. Was there a specific news story or event that compelled you to write that particular story?

I have to say- The Handmaid's Tale changed my life when I read it in high school. I was raised in a conservative town by conservative parents and it challenged so much of what I believed to be true and steered me towards a completely different path. Thank you so much for everything you've shared with the world and continue to share. You're an inspiration.

A:

Anonymous is not a fixed-membership group. Anyone can decide to use the symbols of Anonymous in a variety of ways and then it becomes up to others to support those efforts. So, briefly spoken, anyone can decide to become a member at any time and it's up to the group to decide how much support they receive.


Q:

Yes! You are essentially unprotected right now. There are no rules of the road governing what ISPs are allowed to do with your data. ISPs know when you're online, how long you're online, every website you visit. Think about what they can learn about you just from that information alone. They know when you're home and when you're not. They can glean whether there are children in your house, which devices they are using, your political views, and any number of other things about you and your household. - DH

A:

It wasn't hard. It seems like Renton's been sitting inside me for 20 years just waiting to come out again.


Q:

He might have been on something. But I can only write about what the records show... Foot soldiers were also on meth. For the France invasion 35 million dosages were distributed.

A:

Thank you. The Heart Goes Last -- yes, came from my interest in what happens when a region's economy collapses and people are really up against it, and the only "business" in which people can have jobs is a prison. It pushes the envelope (will there really be some Elvis robots?) but again, much of what was only speculation then is increasingly possible.


Q:

Oh my god fuck off.

A:

Where have the title II questions / bills ended up, and what impact could that have on privacy? Is it done, dead, or just in need of a revamp?

If not Title II, what's the most direct path toward an Internet connection (Of any speed) being considered a simple digital pipe, moving data from one place to many places and vice versa without being charged more for the digital equivalent of taking showers vs. washing clothes?


Q:

can you recite the entire "choose life" monologue by heart?

A:

How do academia and other historians view your focus on drug use?


Q:

Thank you so much for everything you do! I don't even know how to give you a compliment that sums up everything I want to say about your writing and your existence.

I do especially want to thank you for the sophisticated presentation of feminism in your literature. As feminism goes through its latest identity crisis, I find myself also struggling with what it means to me.

My question(s): How, if at all, has your feminism changed over the last decade or so? Can you see these changes taking place throughout your literature? Lastly, can you offer any advice for feminists of the millennial generation? What mistakes are we making/repeating? What are our priorities in this political climate?

Thank you again :)

A:

It was only the public (outside) internet. No medical devices were affected, you can see the Huffington Post op-ed for more details. What was done to Justina qualifies are torture under the Convention of Torture and with International Law nothing not even war, threat of war, preservation of human life can justify the torture of a human being. It was damn cruel leaving her for months and months without pain medication.


Q:

Members of Congress, like Chairman Thune have been openly critical of Title II and have made clear their intention to undo broadband reclassification (check out yesterday's FCC oversight hearing http://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/hearings?ID=B9D3B299-E3CC-480A-B09B-1DEF0512A57C )

There's no actual bill yet in Congress but undoing reclassification would be a disaster for broadband privacy. Section 222 of the Communications Act (the privacy law) only applies to broadband providers because of Title II.

Title II is the direct and right path. It's incredibly important not to let those consumer protections be overturned in favor of letting broadband companies themselves dictate terms to consumers. thanks!

A:

Yes I learned it while walking around Arthur's Seat. I think I'll always remember that speech.


Q:

prominent historians like the late Hans Mommsen, or Ian Kershaw, and Antony Beevor have praised the book, saying it is a missing puzzle piece. this makes me very happy.

A:

Hello: I am so shrieking old that my formative years (the 40s and 50s) took place before 2nd wave late-60's feminist/women's movement. But since I grew up largely in the backwoods and had strong female relatives and parents who read a lot and never told me I couldn't do such and such because of being a girl, I avoided the agit-prop of the 50s that said women should be in bungalows with washing machines to make room for men coming back from the war. So I was always just very puzzled by some of the stuff said and done by/around women. I was probably a danger to myself and others! (joke) My interest was in women of all kinds -- and they are of all kinds. They are interesting in and of themselves, and they do not always behave well. But then I learned more about things like laws and other parts of the world, and history... try Marilyn French's From Eve to Dawn, pretty massive. We are now in what is being called the 3rd wave -- seeing a lot of pushback against women, and also a lot of women pushing back in their turn. I'd say in general: be informed, be aware. The prioriies in the US are roughly trying to prevent the roll-back that is taking place especially in the area of women's health. Who knew that this would ever have to be defended? Childbirth care, pre-natal care, early childhood care -- many people will not even be able to afford any of it. Dead bodies on the floor will result. It is frightful. Then there is the whole issue of sexual violence being used as control -- it is such an old motif. For a theory of why now, see Eve's Seed. It's an unsettled time. If I were a younger woman I'd be taking a self-defense course. I did once take Judo, in the days of the Boston Strangler, but it was very lady-like then and I don't think it would have availed. There's something called Wen-Do. It's good, I am told.


Q:

What initially led to you joining anonymous? Did Justina's case influence your views at all or were there others in a similar situation that may not have received media attention?

A:

On a personal level, what are a few of your favorite films?


Q:

Hey Ewan! I saw an article from September that said you haven't been able to find time for riding motorcycles, has that changed since then? Also whats a dream bike you haven't been able to ride?

A:

Do you think a lot of History is kind of moralistic, and sand off edges (like drug use) from their accounts to be taken more seriously?


Q:

Mrs. Atwood, I have only read A Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake, but I really love how you change the rules of the utopian genre, particularly in Oryx and Crake. I wrote a short research paper for one of my classes comparing Oryx and Crake to Thomas More's Utopia, essentially arguing that neither work truly conforms to the utopian/dystopian generic distinction that we try to make so often.

My question would be then, do you think there ever has been a true distinction between utopias and dystopias, or is this just a result of superficial readings of these texts due to their broader categorization as science-fiction?

A:

At any given time there are hundreds of thousands of institutionalized children subject to egregious abuses in the United States. This torture has been well documented by the government accountability office in testimony before Congress. Initially I, like Justina's parents, reached out to every law enforcement and regulatory agency I could think of. No one would help me.

My wife and I even went to the FBI in person and pled for their assistance to save these children. They wouldn't even talk to us. Eventually members of Anonymous proactively volunteered their support. They were the only ones willing to do anything so that greatly influenced my life.

Justina's situation was special in that her family was fighting to get her out and it was the state and the hospital holding her against her will. I also felt her case was extremely cognoscente in nature. Instead I bet if the Pelletier's were Democrats from Lexington, MA instead of Republicans from Connecticut she would have gone home much sooner. I felt Justina was being punished for her family's political and religious affiliations and also felt a sense of urgency and the very real risk she would die.


Q:

I like the Godfather... After all, we don't oppose Senator Flake, Senator Thune, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Senator McConnell, FCC Chairman Pai, and others trying to repeal the rules because we dislike them personally. "Its Just Business".

A:

I'm not allowed to ride motorcycles while working for insurance reasons, but when I'm not working I ride every day.


Q:

Absolutely. Especially when it comes to the Third Reich. But I think this will change, thanks to Blitzed - at least I hope so.

A:

Hello: I have an essay on this in In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination -- in which I coin the term Ustopia to describe the Yin/Yang relationship between them: every Utopia contains within it a little Dystopia, and vice versa. It's one of my literary interests and I have read a lot of them, even some boringly-written now obscure 19th C ones like Bulwer Lytton's The Coming Age. Always fascinating to see what people come up with as a desirable state of affairs.


Q:

At what point did you stop shitposting in 4chan and start your activism with Anonymous? Also, are there any official law people overseeing this? Like I can't imagine they're not xD

A:

Children of Men, Easy A, Independence Day, and The Whole 9 Yards.

In order of least to most embarrassing.


Q:

Have you given much thought to when you are going to start ageing?

You're 20 years older than me and I look like I could be your dad.

Edit: Seriously guys I was paying him a compliment. I don't look 65 and I'm not overweight.

A:

Did Hitler's health decline from taking too many drugs? Was there any recorded evidence of it?


Q:

Have you read any good books lately?

A:

I never posted on 4chan. The first thing I did was start a petition and a website and then Anonymous approached me. I only took up the Guy Fawkes mask after every law enforcement agency refused to help the kids.


Q:

Hook, American History X - DH

A:

Get some sleep.


Q:

It certainly did. The Nazi propaganda machine tried to keep this a secret. But some footage got out, showing how deranged Hitler was, and how strong his tremor. Especially the organ concoctions (described in the chapter of Blitzed called "Slaughterhouse Ukraine") paint a vivid picture of this.

A:

I am always reading... many good books! I intend to get the Bailey's longlist and read those, and many more that are on my to-read list. There's an app called Reco where I have an account and post recommendations... I must update it! Homegoing is on it, for example.


Q:

What made you pick Justina's case as a cause (out of all the other heartbreaking things in the world)?

A:

If you weren't an actor, what job/industry would you have liked to have been in?


Q:

Since the book is so controversial, were there any parts or topics that you fought for that couldn't be included?

A:

Do you find similar pleasure in the slower more immersive experience of a modern 10 hour television series as you do a novel? Any standout shows that you have particularly respected?


Q:

I consider child abuse especially abhorrent and the torture of children worse still. I've always had a soft spot for abused kids and the hypocrisy of a children's hospital mistreating children so badly was especially egregious. They violated the public's trust in medicine as a science.

A:

I can imagine being a sculptor.


Q:

No. Everything is exactly how I wanted it to be. And all of my research is included.

A:

Hello: The trend got going in the 80s in England with longer series TV adaptations of things like Jane Eyre. Also the amazing The Singing Detective -- I think it was the 90s. I like to get them once the whole thing is finished and then watch back to back. Longer forms allow deeper exploration, series of connected episodes work like old serial fiction, ie Dickens -- a cliffhanger at the end of each! But I'm kind of a sucker for that. Novels are very different in that they are made of words and words alone: the reader supplies everything else. Note: novels can do smells. Harder in TV and film: you can have people say Pee-yew etc but you don't actually get a description of the smell in detail.


Q:

Do you enjoy the movie Hackers? Follow up question: how many pairs of rollerblades to you own

A:

Do you have any directorial advice?


Q:

Today's military (and other) extensively uses Modafinil, which is a wakefulness agent? Are you familiar with that, and do you draw any parallels?

A:

How did your experience with the 2017 version differ from the 1990 version of The Handmaid's Tale?


Q:

I don't enjoy security theater because I feel it detracts from vital national and international debate. The area I live in is really hilly and rollerblades aren't in the best state of repair so I do not own any [working] right now.

A:

Always rehearse the scene with the actors alone, and then show the crew.


Q:

I first heard about Modafinil when I researched Blitzed. The German Army (its elite units) was using it in Afghanistan, and I believe the US troops are using it as well. It is like taking amphetamines without the high. Very "efficient" I suppose.

A:

Different times (that world is closer now!) and a 90 minute film is a different proposition from a 10 part 1st season series, which can build out and deep dive because it has more time. The advent of high-quality streamed or televised series has opened up a whole new set of possibilities for longer novels. We launched the 1990 film in West and then East Berlin just as the Wall was coming down... and I started writing book when the Wall was still there... Framed it in people's minds in a different way. Also, then, many people were saying "It can't happen here." Now, not so much....


Q:

Do you consider yourself to be a political prisoner? Does the government acknowledge you as such?

A:

Ewan! You're almost unrecognizable in your makeup as one of the twins in Fargo season 3. That's crazy! What was that whole process like? Were you eager to tackle the role of the crime twins for Noah Hawley?


Q:

How common was the use of the same drugs in general? Were downsides known?

A:

What was your involvement in casting of the Hulu movie as an executive producer? I love the choice of the highly underrated Elisabeth Moss for Offred.


Q:

I do consider myself a political prisoner. Of course, the government doesn't feel that way. However, when you look at the history of Carmen Ortiz and Justina Pelletier, I think the conclusion is readily apparent.

A:

The brothers that I play in Fargo are not twins. The makeup is incredible.


Q:

The Temmler company that manufactured Pervitin neglected the downsides, and praised only the "good effects" of meth. Only later people started realizing that meth was an addictive drug - and it was made illegal in Germany in May 1941. Does this answer your question?

A:

Hello: I didn't have any involvement in the casting -- not my forté! But very happy the way it has turned out, and they are all giving it their every ounce of energy. Elizabeth Moss is herself a producer on this film. She is a very good choice, as Offred is an everywoman -- not an exceptional brave resistance fighter or anything -- caught up in this world and just doing her best to get through it without cracking up or getting killed, and Elizabeth can show that quality very well. And she has to perform without makeup. Many actresses might shy away from that...


Q:

Can you name any unbiased sources for us to learn about Justiana's case?

A:

Ewan, I absolutely ADORE your singing voice! Are you looking to do more musical films in the future? Heck, can we just get an album from you?


Q:

What was the weirdest thing you found in your research for this book?

A:

In interviews, how often do you get asked about being a Canadian writer or being a female writer? How often do you wish you were asked about either?


Q:

Yes, we have some resources on http://www.freemartyg.com/resources.html and here is a pretty thorough primer with sources: http://www.freemartyg.com/uploads/8/6/5/3/86532106/u-j..docx.pdf. Adding this to the intro too.

A:

I'd love to - I love singing in drama. Recording music is such a huge joy.


Q:

I believe it is the chapter in the book titled "Slaughterhouse Ukraine". About Morell's monopoly on all the organs of all the slaughtered animals, making weird concoctions out of these, testing them on Hitler.

A:

I have got asked about both a great deal over time. But nobody ever asks me what it's like to be a canoe-paddling writer, or a writer who gardens, or even a knitting writer. Neglected fields! (I'm going to wish I hadn't said that.)


Q:

Is that unbiased or written by you guys through? I am talking about a reputable source like NYT, WashPo or some other publication, not a blog with agenda.

A:

Hi Ewan!

Who were your favorite actors as a child?


Q:

I have never heard about Hitler eating organ cocktails. Was this some sort of fad pseudoscience or something?

A:

Hi Margaret! I love your writing. My mother gave the the HT to read in high school... back in 1989 I think. I read it so many times. Did you have any idea it would make such an impact on people? Thanks... I love you!


Q:

84 citations. It's pretty comprehensive.

A:

Jimmy Stewart, David Nevin, Steve McQueen.


Q:

Morell, his doctor, was a pioneer - or at least that is what Hitler called him. He liked to experiment - and so did "Patient A", which was Hitler's nickname for Morell.

A:

Hello and thank you: No, I really did not have any idea. I was pursuing some lines of thought and emotion that interested me... I thought the book might get denounced (which it has, some) or ignored (which happened in the UK at first), but this kind of impact... no, I had no idea.


Q:

What do you look for in a script?

A:

Do you think the outcome of the war could have been different if not for the drug use?


Q:

Did you enjoy your work with Darren Aronofsky?

A:

A good story.


Q:

I believe so. The meth abuse by the Wehrmacht was so heavy, and fit the military strategy of the Blitzkrieg like a glove, that it is hard to imagine how the outcome of the campaign against France would have been without the drug.

A:

Very smart team! But that is rather in limbo, as HBO changed CEOs and pulled out. They are looking for another venu however. It's a daunting 3 book project, not easy to do.


Q:

What do you prefer to play heroes or villains?

A:

So you think meth gave the Blitz an advantage?


Q:

Where do you get your amazing ideas?

Any advice for struggling novel writers?

Edit: Thanks /u/Hulu_Official for the Gold. I have been here for 6 years and it is my first gilding!

A:

There are no heroes or villains in my book. Bad guys don't think they're bad guys.


Q:

Absolutely. This is a huge chapter in the book, and I did very long and careful research about this. Hard to sum it up in a few lines...

A:

Ideas... never a shortage! I think my brain just works that way. Not all of my ideas have been amazing. Some have not, NOT worked out! As they say (I think it was Beckett): try, fail. Try again, fail better. Or something like that. We have all had projects that have ended up as smashed eggs on the floor. Struggling writers: check out Chuck Wendig's blogsite/website at www.terribleminds.com. He has SO MANY tips and encouragements! He saves me a lot of time b/c I would say much the same things myself. He's a freelancer, like me. If you have a day job (as I did for I dunno 16 years or something) the advice just has to cover a more challenging time period (i.e 12 midnite). No one said this would be easy!


Q:

How did it feel to make a film in your home country?

A:

How did the army handle addiction? Was there any form of crisis after the war was over, and doses were not longer bring supplied?


Q:

Congratulations on being a Bailey's finalist. Does the novelty of so many nominations and so many awards ever diminish?

And have you ever considered coming to South Africa to do some talks?

A:

It's the 5th film I've made at home. I always love working in Scotland. I can visit my parents on the weekends.


Q:

The Army tried to set programs into place that would take care of addicted soldiers. But they failed in the end due to lack of resources. After the war, many soldiers were still addicted, and my research shows that Pervitin (meth) use is very high in Germany even in the 50s.

A:

I would so much like to go to South Africa but as I say, I am screaming old and long travel is becoming more difficult, for many reasons, not all of which have to do with me alone. I have Duties. It's lovely to be a Bailey's finalist, kind of them, but I am in the Gold Watch and Goodbye phase of my "career" (Lifetime etc. -- hey! I only get one?) so this will go to one of the many fine, edgy books on the list, all of which I will read with pleasure (have already read some of them).


Q:

Hi Ewan! Any chance of a third installment of Long Way Round/Down? Huge fan of that show and it'd be great to see you and Charlie back on the road again.

A:

I actually heard about your book on NPR this morning, sounds interesting. How much cocaine did hitler use on a daily basis?


Q:

I'm a male in his 30s, and I listened to the audio book version of The Handmaid's Tale performed by Claire Danes just this last month. What an incredibly thought provoking piece of literature, one I think all genders should read. How do you feel about the audiobook platform in general, and what concept in the story plaguing the narrator is most terrifying to you?

A:

No plans at the moment.


Q:

He only used cocaine from late July 1944 to October 1944 - over 50 times during this period.

A:

Hello: I grew up in the age of radio, so I am very comfortable with audio versions. Claire Danes does a wonderful job! A good one can add a whole other dimension. Looking forward to the Special Edition now underway at Audible.

Which concept is most terrifying? All of it, I guess. Not being in control of any part of one's life.


Q:

Hey Ewan, I took a girlfriend to watch T2 after a Boyle/McGregor marathon and she broke up with me the next day. Can you tweet "WTF Claire?"

A:

Were there other nations participating in similar programs?


Q:

Thanks for opening up this world and new worlds for us all to explore, you inspire me to write.

-As a young poetry writer I often feel overwhelming pressure for my ‘Big Important First Work’ to be perfect. The issue is that it never feels completely done, so I keep it hidden in my desk. I worry that in a few years I will look back and wish I had written it in a completely different way. At what point do you decide to release a work into the wild regardless of potential imperfections or later regrets?

-What is your opinion on self publishing? Is it better to wait to be picked up by a publisher, or to say screw it and self publish?

-Do you have any ‘writing rituals’? For example, a time of day you write best, a notebook of ideas, or a mandatory cup of coffee to get the words flowing?

Also, where can I find your upcoming speaking engagements? It seems like every time I travel you’ve just passed through and I’ve missed my chance :)

A:

WTF Claire


Q:

The Allies learnt from the Nazis, and started developing their own programs later in the war, deciding to use amphetamines.

A:

Hello: I too have a desk drawer full of things I haven't finished or that I am not yet ready to publish. But send some of them out into the world - then you will worry less. Self-publishing: pros and cons either way. You might try Wattpad for instant feedback. I hand-set my first book of poems (7 in number) but that was long ago. Try literary magazines and online ones? Writing rituals: I would like to have some, but I don't really. It's grabbing time and staying up late, as it always has been, it seems. Upcoming speaking engagements are usually in www.margaretatwood.ca under Events (when we remember to update. ;) Thanks for your q's.


Q:

I am considering purchasing my first motorcycle. What bike would you recommend to a beginner with a modest budget?

A:

I remember reading Live and Let Die when I was a little kid and having to go look up what a Benzedrine was and being shocked that Bond was so cavalier about taking drugs like that. Weird to think how commonplace its usage was back then.


Q:

Thank you for doing this!

What book do you believe vital for kids to read before age 18/while still in school?

Also: Stone Mattress is a treasure and I have wondered if you had traveled to the Arctic before writing that piece?

A:

Your learner motorcycle should be an un-powerful one like a 125cc. Your first proper bike should be a Triumph 650 or a Motoguzzi V7.


Q:

Also Billy Wilder has James Cagney order coffee with meth in his formidable "1,2,3".

A:

The Arctic - yes, many times over the years. I started writing the story on a ship there to amuse my fellow passengers, with How-Tos contributed by my criminally-minded partner; there really were 5 men called Bob. Tey got very nervous.

I think kids find books that call out to them if given half a chance. What IS vital is to have a school library + access to a librarian (marks go up by 20% on average) and a home with books in it, even public library books if possible. I don;t like to tell people what they Have to read because it is a very individual thing. I would have to have a convo with a person. Then I might begin to be able to make a recco.


Q:

Ewan, thank you for doing this AMA. I was watching Velvet Goldmine and really enjoyed your penis. How is it these days?

A:

What made you want to research and writie a book about this particular topic?


Q:

On a scale of 1-10, what would you rate the Hulu film?

A:

It's fine thanks, how's yours?


Q:

A friend of mine is a DJ in Berlin. He is a history and a drug buff. When he told me about massive drug use in the Third Reich, I thought this was worth checking out. And my first visit to the Federal Archive of Germany was so fascinating (because I found so much evidence) that I seriously pursued the project.

A:

Have only seen (pre-screened) 3 episodes so far, but based on what I've seen it's a 10. My criteria: puddle of goo on the floor my end of Episode 3. Gasp. Shriek. It goes farther than I did in the book...


Q:

When was the last time you watched the original Trainspotting? Has your view of it changed at all over the past 21 years?

A:

Were there any close calls with Hitler overdosing? How do you think his regime would've handled it?


Q:

Also, a Reddit constant question: would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or a hundred duck-sized horses? Why?

A:

On my flight to Scotland to shoot the sequel.


Q:

There is one report by Dr. Giesing, saying Hitler nearly overdosed on the Cocaine he gave him in the fall of 1944. I think everyone would have been relieved, in fact.

A:

Hmm. Good question. Are the ducks dead ducks, or are they alive? Are they Zombie Ducks? Is the horse a Pale Horse? Maybe not enough information here. I think I'd pick the hundred duck-sized horses. Easy to stampede, no? ("Scram, ducks!" Opens and closes an umbrella very fast. That's worked for me in the past, against those weeny ducks.)


Q:

Hi Ewan.did you ever meet iggy pop.and if so is he as crazy as he seems?

A:

Is it true that hitler suffered from parkinsons and was taking medication to treat it?


Q:

What would you be doing right now if you were an American? Would you run for office? Would you protest? Would you be planning to resist ICE?

A:

Yes - I did meet him and he's as COOL as he seems.


Q:

Morell (Hitler's physician) gave him a medicine called Homburg once. Homburg is supposed to treat Parkinson's. Other than that there is little evidence. Perhaps Hitler's tremor. But I reckon this comes from withdrawal from opiods.

A:

I would make a very bad politician, so no, I wouldn't run for office. But I would support those who were running. I would certainly turn out for protests, as I did here in Toronto, wearing a rather strange pink hat. I don't know what else I would do! We are in a time when reality seems to shift every day...


Q:

Do you ever miss Scotland and what was t like growing up there and also what is your favorite kind of motorcycle to ride?

A:

The book has such a crazy cover, very different from most history books. Why did you decide to go that route?


Q:

Dear Ms. Atwood,

Thank you for writing THE HANDMAID'S TALE. Is there anything in the series, not included in the book, that you feel could have been?

A:

I often miss Scotland - it was a wonderful place to grow up. I had a very rural countryside childhood and enjoyed independence from a very young age.


Q:

This was my publisher's decision. I think they did a great job. Each country's cover looks very different. I also like the German. It was done by artist Douglas Gordon. Try google: "Der totale Rausch" (the German title)

A:

Yes I think they've got a few things in there (from what I've seen already) that I wish I'd thought of, but we can talk about those after the series, b/c No Spoilers eh?


Q:

Hi Ewan! You're one of my favorite actors, and I'm so excited to see you in the new season of Fargo. My question is this: what's your favorite book and why?

A:

Do the bad reviews bother you?


Q:

Hi Margaret, You've been proactive in embracing technology and seem really pleased with the new adaptation of Handmaid's. I was wondering if I could ask you how you would feel about a HMT computer game? Could that work and how would you see it as succeeding or failing?

A:

A favorite book of mine is called Jupiter's Travels by Ted Simon that inspired me to do the long motorcycle trips that I've done.


Q:

Yes, and no. Obviously Blitzed is a controversial book. I think the many positive reviews, and reactions by readers are what is most important.

A:

I think it could definitely work -- there's one of The Great Gatsby, and one called Plague Inc -- but I haven't given much thought to how it might be done. Not my area but down the line, willing to consider.


Q:

Hi Mr. McGregor! HUGE FAN!!!! Can I ask, what is the best thing a director can do for you on set? Thanks :~)

A:

This youtube clip is highly relevant: Hitler shaking at the 1936 Olympics.

Is Hitler's favourite food/sandwich known?

Edit: As many noted this is slightly sped up, and he's watching the olympics intensely. Hitler apparently also suffered from Parkinson's.


Q:

Firstly - thank you for so many wonderful books and being an inspirational woman (HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY!) What has been your favourite part of making the Hulu adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale?

A:

Really watch what you're doing.


Q:

Hitler shaking at the 1936 Olympics.

Hitler was a vegetarian. And he was really into sweets. Does this answer your question? (I actually studied all the menu cards for the headquarters)

A:

Haha, so far it's been watching the results -- but talking with everyone too, and seeing the astonishing amount of energy and enthusiasm that's gone into it at every level. I love seeing people do something they're passionate about very well.


Q:

Was it hard to get back in character for T2? By the way loved it!!!

A:

Thanks for answering! I read up on Hitler's vegetarianism while waiting, interesting stuff.

Do you have any menu cards to show? :)


Q:

How does it feel knowing America is basically on the road to becoming Gilead?

A:

No - it was nerve-wracking but it came very easily.


Q:

I am in NY right now, didn't bring any copy of menu cards. Perhaps you can find some online?

A:

I cannot tell you how strange this feels. I wrote the book hoping to fend it off, and I believe it will be fended off: America is very diverse, a lot of people have been jolted out of political slumber and are paying attention, and the Constitution still stands. The upcoming Hulu TV series of which I;ve seen 3 episodes is even more up-to-date and chilling than the book, so let's see how that may impact. Support your leaders who are standing against unconstitutional laws; keep informed, as best as possible. Everything is "as best as possible" right now.


Q:

How was it working with Van and the rest of the lads from Catfish and the Bottlemen? Loved that video!

A:

At least some finnish soldiers were given pervitine during the war(those drugs can still be found in houses of older people) did we get those from the germans since we were allies with them? And how usual it was to give regular jaegers some "boost"?


Q:

We had a great day in New York. I took them to my favorite punk store, Trash and Vaudeville and we had a laugh.

A:

The Fins had their own approach I believe. I never read that they got it from the Germans. But I would have to do more research on this.


Q:

Got a favorite meal to cook at home?

A:

Great book! I'm totally enthralled by it. I'm just wondering, what happened to Morell's wife? I take she lived in luxury during the war. Was she investigated at all after war? What happend to their fortune?


Q:

Avocado with lemon and salt, and a boiled egg.

A:

She was never investigated. Morell lost his fortune. But in fact I am not sure exactly how she lived after the war. Happy you like the book!


Q:

Any thoughts on doing a Trainspotting 3? Loved the second one so I would love to see the characters again.

A:

Did German civilians know about this at the time?


Q:

Who knows? We'd all be in our 60s.

A:

Did they know about Hitler's drug abuse? Absolutely not. Hitler was presented as a sort of healthy saint. Did the people know about meth? Yes, because many were taking it. It was legal in Nazi Germany, under the brand name of Pervitin.


Q:

What was the jump like from directing a short to directing a full film?

A:

Did Nazis use anabolic steroids at all? If so, which ones? Also, was it mandatory for the soldiers to use the various drugs that you've said?


Q:

It was a very long jump, I shot my short in 1996 and my feature film in 2015.

A:

Hitler did. There is a list in Blitzed with all his drugs. Over 80.

No, it was not mandatory for the soldiers to take Pervitin.


Q:

Treat a fangirl - could you just say hi?

A:

Why was Hitler a vegetarian?


Q:

Hello!

A:

In the late 19th century, vegetarianism was en vogue among right wing populist people in Germany. The composer Wagner for example was a vegetarian. There was the belief that you became superior if you didn't eat meat. Hitler bought into that.


Q:

do you have any plans for working with Kevin Mckidd again? would love to see you guys together in a play !

A:

Did Hitler smoke pot?


Q:

I would love that too. Kevin is a brilliant actor and he was missed on the set of T2.

A:

He never smoked anything. Marijuana was not popular among Nazi officials.


Q:

Hi Ewan, what was for you the most moving scene to shoot in T2?

A:

How much drug use was involved in the V-unit divisions? And how early did the meth use start into the war?


Q:

The scene in the Highlands where I read Spud's poem.

A:

I didn't find anything about the V-units and their drug use. I would imagine they were on it. The meth use started with the attack on Poland. It was officially used a bit later, however, with the attack on France starting May 10.


Q:

Have you ever met Louis CK?

A:

Thanks. Anything specific for guards in the camps?


Q:

Yeah I must've bumped into him somewhere!

A:

Found nothing on camp guards except that they drank heavily. But I am sure they used Pervitin - since Pervitin and alcohol "go well together".


Q:

What as it like directing your first feature film?

A:

What inspired you to do this research and then eventually write your book? Was there an "aha" moment when you realized Hitler & his nazis may have been on drugs?


Q:

It was a life-changer. Amazing.

A:

The aha-moment came in Koblenz, in the Federal Archives of Germany, when I studied Theo Morell's notes, and felt like a fly on the wall. Fascinating material!


Q:

Did you ever consider naming your book Kristallnacht to Crystal Meth? My psych professor keeps saying that would be a great title for a book on that subject.

A:

I thought about "Kristall" actually, when I was still considering writing a novel about the subject. But I think Blitzed is an amazing title. Don't you agree?


Q:

I assume the meth was taken in pill form? How is it different than the meds used today for ADD/ADHD?

Also, did Albert Speer use drugs? If not, was he aware of his "buddy's" habit? I ask, because in all of Joachim Fest's "Conversations with Hitler's Architect" I don't recall it ever being slightly hinted at, and that was indeed a very insightful book, relative to this space... or so I thought.

A:

Meth was usually taken in pill under the brand-name of "Pervitin". This is similar to the meds used today for ADD/ADHD - but in Germany the use was unregulated. Not even a prescription needed until Nov 1939. And remember, Meth is different than amphetamines: stronger, and more addictive.

In regards to Speer: He was a patient of Morell (Hitler's doctor) as well, so I would assume he received similar treatment. Morell loved injecting Eukodal (Oxycodone) to all of his patients. But there are no notes I could find proving this. Morell's notes are mainly on Hitler. So we cannot be sure.


Q:

Guten Abend Herr Ohler!

The Guardian newspaper has described Blitzed as both 'spurious' and 'crass', and argues that whilst your book is 'readable' it is at the expense of truth and accuracy.

In particular, your argument that drug use was commonplace amongst the entire German population is highly contentious; the historian, Richard J. Evans went so far as to describe your conjectured idea of drug use under the Third Reich as both 'wildly implausible' and 'having no basis in fact'.

How would you respond to those critics and your peers who have cast suspicion on the authenticity of the claims made in your book? What is your response to the idea that you may have purposefully misinterpret Morell's journals in order to substantiate your own view-point?

Finally, numerous historians have agreed that Hitler exhibited signs of Parkinson's disease; however, you claim that his tremors were resultant from experiencing withdrawals or going 'cold turkey'. Do you have any evidence to corroborate your claim?

It is undeniable that your book touches upon interesting subject matter, but I think we have to be careful when producing any piece of historiography not to mislead readers through the misrepresentation of information derived from primary sources.

A:

Well, there was even a chocolate laced with Pervitin on the market. And from the production figures of Temmler it becomes clear that the product was very successful in Germany. There are many many reports of doctors and psychiatrists describing the effects it had on their patients. In regards to Hitler, I think I rather understated Morell's notes. I don't dwell on Barbiturates, for example - Hitler became dependent on them at a certain point in time. Parkinson's? It is a theory (because Morell gave Hitler a medicine called Homburg once, and because of Hitler's tremor), and it might be true. But I think it is more likely that Hitler suffered from withdrawal because Morell's notes definitely indicate this. I hope this answers some of your doubts. Have you read the book yet? Thanks, N


Q:

Did you come up with your username? I might have to buy the book just for that.

A:

We thought about calling the book "High Hitler" in Germany. But my publisher decided it is too jokey for the topic. However, the Spanish translation that is being published in Latin America is called "High Hitler". Enjoy the book!


Q:

How extensive was Nazi research on methamphetamine before it became widely used by them? Do you know what dosages they were taking? Did they take it orally or what route of administration was used?

A:

The first research was done at several German universities before the war. Most professors (also taking it themselves) concluded that meth was great. Sometimes they used high dosages. One conclusion was that meth reduces fear if administered in those high dosages. I dedicate quite a bit of space in Blitzed on this subject. Usually the meth was taken orally. But Temmler also manufactured ampoules for injection.


Q:

First off, I would like to thank you Norman as I've read Blitzed and very much enjoyed it. Did you come across any interesting anecdotes from the people you met whilst researching the book? Do you have any plans to work on any further projects in the same field? Thanks for doing the AMA!

A:

I actually discovered another and quite fascinating story (about resistance against Hitler), which is pretty much unknown, and I am currently examining whether that could be my next book. On the other hand, I continue writing novels, and my next novel called "The Equation of Life" will be published in Germany in the fall.

Happy you liked Blitzed!


Q:

Some of your research came from US archives. What was it you found here in the US?

A:

US intelligence interrogated Theo Morell, Hitler's physician, and only shared part of those files with Germany after the war. I learnt quite a few things about Morell's actions in DC.


Q:

In your opinion, how valid is the thesis behind The Architecture of Doom?

A:

I am not familiar (yet) with the Architecture of Doom. Will look into it. Thanks for pointing it out. What do you think?


Q:

What turned Germany away from drugs, and meth in particular? Was there somewhat of a nationwide withdrawal when meth became illegal? Are there any lasting effects from this period on drug culture and markets in Germany today?

A:

Meth was very popular in the civilian population even in the 50's. Your question is very interesting: Why did it get less? I would have to do more research on this - in Blitzed I focus on the Third Reich itself.

The East German Army was still using it in the 60's, supplying their border troops with it.