Listen: Handmaid, Harvard, Bruce Miller discussed on The Archive Project
"I'm wondering if when you write something like the handmaid's tale or the testaments and you're drawing drawing on things like decrease seven seven communist Poland. What happened Argentina? These these events that happen to human beings whether you ever come up on a societal title or political version of the same problem that is just so all the time. And what are you all the time. Well you okay okay. So there's there's there's what is readable and the and then there's one happened so anybody who joined Amnesty International in Nineteen Seventy S. I did of that gave you a lot more information than you could ever ever ever is an book and people writing novels about war novels about atrocities that they all have the same problem but but that it's always worse in real life and it's it's worse and more so if you put it all in it would just it would be kind of overwhelming. You've got more of it in history books so I've been reading for some reason why I've been reading quite a bit about Stalingrad and grand recently and I've been reading. Vassily Grossman's two books about stealing Grad. And there's also a history of it which is more like a dog mentality so what was actually going on in. The history is worse than what's in the novel because when you're in a normal year following individual characters so you're not necessarily getting a pile up of of information anyway yeah. I think it's a problem that any novelist dealing with anything outside. Shall we call it a domestic drum. I think they're always going to have that problem there. There's a line in the testaments. Were one of the characters says something to the effect of you never. I think the sky is falling until the chunk of it falls on you and I. I was curious whether you think in this in this moment. Whether you're seeing something something fundamentally new happening or sort of warped extrapolation of something. That's always been there or a little bit of both. I think it's a question of of time and place so I said the handmaid's tale in Cambridge Massachusetts. Because that's the last place you would expect it or was certainly the lies place. They were expecting it then back. They're required annoyed. Harvard was angry at you. They were peed tarver. CARVER doesn't get angry at the beginning. They wrote kind of peeved review like the idea. New bodies hanging on the Herbert Mall would be so convenient. So they've come around but I put it there. I put many things from different times and places and put them there simply only because it annoys me when people say it could never happen here. There's there's no such thing it it whatever it is could always happen have been here. Wherever here is given the circumstances and let us not forget that the Harvard started as a theological seminary in the seventeenth century of when the messages? It's calling me was not a democracy not nor nor did it offer religious freedom. The usual the story you get in school as the puritans came in search of religious freedom. Well that's true for themselves Eh. But they were of quaker angers and I got to say that about them because some of them are my Ryan's esters. Harvard finally come around. Yes they've come round. Yes they've been quite nice of in recent years but but that may change once they read the test. It's just a question of repurposing buildings and you know that if you've traveled and particularly Eastern Europe or even the history of Paris during them German occupation that a lot of buildings were re purposed. So this used to be the axe during the was the Y.. And now it's back to being a hotel world. I mean you know. Harvard also rejected my undergrad applications. So to hell with them. Good on you I having such a hard time wrapping my head around the constraints specific constraints of writing a book. Like this in a moment like this not only the political moment. But you have this TV series. That's going on at the same time that is covering similar similar ground. What is the interaction like? Did you shut everybody else out. Do you collaborate what. How is the process of writing? Okay so they show runner then. Maids needs tells this person. Bruce Miller and Bruce read the handmaid's tale when he was a teenager and vowed that when he grew up he was going to do it and he did because he waited and waited and waited and waited The story of what happened to the TV rights is a little bit like the Hobbit and that so the TV rights were attached to the film contract for the film that was made in eighty nine ninety and Then that film got sold to a distributor a bitter then the distributor went bankrupt than the assets were dispersed different. People bought them and it was laws to track of who actually truly had the so. The ring of power went into the mountain disappeared from view. And nobody. Nobody knew that it was in there. All the time And then somebody opened a drawer and Lo and behold it was. MGM was like surprise brides but main while people have been saying. Can we do something with as an I would say. I don't know who has the rights so once it was discovered covered the MGM had them MGM. Thought that maybe they might do something with it. We're now win the present century and when it when it came up bruce lobbied to be the show runner and he knew the book so thoroughly that he got the job so he introduced himself and burst appearances about this. He would say hi. I'm Chris Miller. I'm the show runner of the HANDMAID's mainstay on I've got one Pena's too many but but but higher Delana women in Ireland of women so I talked with him. I have some sort of title. I'm not sure what it is. It's it's executive something or other which means Something I I read the script. I make notes on them. I have no real power. I have influence. We went influence So I have been fluent so I got home Bruce on the phone and or he gets hold of me and we have conversations nations About the notes that I in Britain on this grips but And he explains there's GonNa be something is GonNa do. It's different. He explains why and what I said to him. In this instance was you may not it. Kill and Lydia was going to be important. WHOA WHOA WHOA? It wasn't going to hands off that baby you so like that. But he didn't actually read them the full thing until it was until he had done series series three because he wanted to concentrate on what he was doing. He has a writing room general. That is a writer's room outside eligible of writers are not. They're not allowed. Nobody is allowed end. They let me and once before they'd written anything on the whiteboards around the rooms. I mean they've let you do they let you do a cameo is let me do. They have sorry they they knew better than to not let you do a cameo to him I was and they offered me a candy so this happens in a in a church gymnasium. I believe where they shoot this thing yet. They actually shot in the cellar of a church. So you're in this seller. There's cameras everywhere. Your job is to essentially walk up and Slap Elizabeth Moss. No I give her a bop up on the back of the head. So they're repeatedly having to reshoot the scene because you're not hitting your heart is correct and they added a sound effect in the. I'm just curious. How often in your life do you look around? And just say how the hell did I get here like. This is such a surreal real moment to go from this novel that you wrote thirty some years earlier to be in this place making a cameo in the new TV series about. What is the best selling the novel in the world?."