The visit to Boskone was fun. I got there around 11:00 am and paid my fee and then went over to the book signing. There was about 35 people in line and it moved pretty quickly. I was one of the last people to get an autograph. I thought he was real nice and you can tell he has a pretty ggod sense of humor. I intro'd and asked him where i could track Parris down. He pointed me over to the art exhibit so i left GRRM to finish signing and met Parris.
She was looking at some exhibits (she and George were bidding on some art) along with 2 gentlemen. She remembered me from the board so that was pretty cool. She introduced me to her 2 friends who turned out to be Les and Ernst from Roaring Studios so we talked about the progress of the Hedge Knight for a while and they made me promise to go on their site and check out The Battle of the Trident picture they did (Robert vs. Rhaeghar). They are really hoping the Hedge Knight does well so they can hopefully do some comics of ASOIAF. We talked about how difficult the skope of something like that would be but they were confident it could be done. They were great guys. Parris said a lot of nice things about Ran (as did Les and Ernst). She dropped Lodengarl's name too. She told me not to asked Trebla's question about Bill Parcells. George is pretty pissed that Parcells is coaching the Cowboys. She said George spends time on the Usenet groups talking Jets and Giants. She reiterated to me that he does not go on this board.
After speaking with them for awhile i went back over to George and hit him with a few question even though i felt like a total geek:
1. Who owns the Sept at Dragonstone?
Stannis does, the owner of the castle owns the sept within his grounds if it comes down to a question of actual ownership.
2. Why did Stannis sit silently on Dragonstone for months when he had reason to believe that Robert may have been in danger after Jon Arryn was murdered?
Stannis did not have a strong enough base of power but more importantly Robert and Stannis were just not close enough. They did not get along so Stannis may not have been considering the threat to Robert as much as he would have if they had been close.
3. Is Ned Dead?
Ned is dead.
4. My follow up question was "is he definately not coming back?"
He said Nothing is definate so the whole faceless man getting his head chopped off in Ned's place is still a very remote possibiliy (i can Dream right? )... He went on to say he does not give away specific plot details...
After that it was wrapping up and i really could not get anymore questions in at that time. Plus he was kind of stuggling to answer the questions i asked so i just felt weird. I did get one piece of info at the signing that i am not sure people know about. He is doing a story for Legends 2 that is about Dunk and Egg a couple of years after the Hedge Knight. That should be cool.
After the signing i went to the panel discussion about "What should good Fantasy do?" It had GRRM, Ellen Asher, Ellen Kushner and Beth Meacham.
It was alright but not really my cup of tea. The only parts that interested my was George's take on writing and Fantasy. Here are the details:
Sci Fi versus Fantasy - George does not see a big difference in the genre's. The main difference is in the "furniture" ie. Is there a sword in place or a space ship? Everything is story and character driven. He compared a couple of books which would be considered Sci Fi but were actually Fantasy and vice versa - "Metropolitan" by Walter John Williams and "Born to Exile" by Phyllis Eisenstein (sp?)
He was asked his favorite book and he said Lord of the Rings with no hesitiation. He went on to discuss Tolkein's use of magic as he has done in interviews in the past. The main theme was Tolkien's use of magic, or lack of "onstage magic". He thinks it is an effect way to write fantasy. Magic in writing does not have to be explained. Once it is explained it ceases to be magic.
George's take on bad fantasy was that bad fantasy often feels like someone is writing in the perspective of a lame D&D game. The more typical the worse it tends to be.
That was the panel. After that the readings were done.
When asked about the progress of his writing he said AFFC is not yet finished and it is taking a long time. He has Dany pretty much done and most of the Lannister chapters. He is still not done with the story on the Wall. He does not write in order but works on different POV's as it suits him.
I can confirm that GRRM did mention that Aerys was captured at Duskendale. But GRRM didn't go into much detail about how he was freed. Mainly he gave the background to the defiance. A wife with Free City ideas and Aerys wanting to prove that he was good as Tywin. That incident was the beginning of the end for Aerys.
What I would like to know was what Tywin would have done against the lord and how Aerys was actually rescued, ie. did Tywin seriously embarrase him by coming to his rescue. But GRRM did mention that it will be explained in the next book.
. . .
But one thing I did remember when reading the start of the Tyrion thread was that GRRM mentioned that Dragonstone was taken by the Valyrians not long before their doom.
. . .
Maia, I think GRRM said the defiance at Duskendale was the first time the split between Tywin and Aerys became so bad that he acted on his own. The jealousy that knawed at his heart finally caused him to act.
As for Illyrio. He was wealthy but not near as powerful as he is today. Only with the help of Varys did he reach a position where the daughter of a magister was willing to marry him.
Now, a lot of these I had heard before and are in the interviews so I'm not going to belabor those points but here are some tidbits of info I gleaned:
(1) In regards to Aggie's question, there are monkeys named in the series; a monkey was named at BITTERBRIDGE, apparently, in ACOK, I believe.
(2) MAPS: GRRM probably won't be doing maps of the whole world. REASON: in medieval times, they knew of no such things so he wants to keep it the same.
(3) AGGIE QUESTION: why are there no viewpoints of generals or cool swordsmen in the battles. Why are they always not so good warriors?
ANSWER: people in the trenches are more interesting than generals standing on Hills; GRRM considers it a tightrope to do it either way but seems to prefer the local soldier in the thick of things. Also, he implied that chaotic battles are more interesting to write.
(4) SOHP QUESTION: will we see Hot Pie in book #4.
ANSWER: No, but perhaps in later books.
(5) SOHP QUESTION: will we learn more of Rhaegar and will it be more than a paragraph?
ANSWER: Yes (I knew this already but was hoping he would expound which he did not).
(6) SOHP QUESTION: will we learn more about the Sword of Morning? And, can you tell me anything of Ashara Dayne to sock it to the R&L group?
ANSWER: Yes (regarding Sword of Morning); no comment about Ashara; and "Have some more cheetos." *GRRM grin*
(7) TREBLA COMMENT OF R&L THEORY TO PARRIS: Trebla proceeded to talk about the R&L theory and how he believes it, hoping for a tidbit.
HER REPLY (paraphrasing): Do you really think George would do something so basic as Jon being the son of R&L? *Trebla's jaw dropping open*
(8) LODENGARL ASKED: what made you NOT do the five year gap.
HIS ANSWER: mainly that the death of the Red Viper demanded an immediate reply. More importantly, he was doing too many flashbacks and couldn't get away with saying that nothing interesting had happened.
(9) DUNK AND EGG: there will probably be two more novelletes (his favorite medium).
GRRM noticed dealers getting him to sign and making hundreds at Ebay; he was charging regular retail; so, for AGOT, it was remaindered (means not all the books sold and went to him); he had over 500 hardcovers; he's got four left in his cellar and each is about $550.
As far as current popularity of fantasy series go, GRRM is very high; second; but a distant second to Jordan . .. heard that Tor marketed the first RJ book by giving out the first third for free .. . gutsy; but great marketing ploy, methinks.
A few questions I asked for Ran and a few I asked myself.
Can any noble have a paramour regardless of gender, rank, or marital status? For example, an unwed young heiress having a paramour.
Could each partner in a marriage have their own paramour?
Yes, but it would depend on the rank of the partners.
Is homosexuality tolerated to an equal degree for women as it is for men? If so, can one's paramour be of the same gender?
One's paramour can be of the same sex.
Is Waters the noble bastard name for KL and the immediate region (such as Stokeworth and Rosby) around it?
Are Prince Duncan the Small and Duncan, Prince of Dragonflies one in the same or are they different people?
They are one in the same.
King Maekar I Targaryen died in battle against an outlaw lord. Was that outlaw lord a Blackfyre Pretender?
Here are the questions I asked:
1. Who is over lord of the Riverlands? (Since the Freys have Riverrun yet Littlefinger was named Lord Paramount). George says that Littlefinger is the Lord of the Riverlands but that he is going to run into trouble. I commented that Littlefinger is really powerful now that he has the Riverlands and supposed control of the Eyrie. GRRM laughed and said that I need to remember that for all his power Littlefinger has no army. (I thought that was interesting). GRRM also commented that (I forget which Frey, Emmon?) the Frey given Riverrun really wants to be Lord of the Riverlands and has dreams of having his father be his vassel. (I thought that was interesting also)
2. The Greatjon has more sons than just the Smalljon. GRRM commented that we will see more of Crowsfood and Whoresbane in AFfC. I wonder whose PoV we will see them from, Jon? Perhaps when Stannis calls the Northern lords to him?
3. Have you publishers been on your case for falling behind or are they cool? GRRM commented that Bantam (American Publisher) was very large and that they were not pushing him to produce the books at a strict schedule. The British publisher is smaller though and has been more concerned with getting the books out. GRRM did mention that it doesn't matter which book you buy, he still gets the same cut.
4. How does the Citadel get financed? Lords pay for the service of the Maesters and the Citadel collects some of the revenue of Oldtown via taxes.
5. When armies are described as destroyed, does that mean they are annihilated or are they mostly dispersed? GRRM commented that when an army is destroyed lots of things happen to the men. They become outlaws, they go home, they find new homes, they become mercs, they join other households, they become"broken men" ( I took this to mean wanderers and semi-outlaws). GRRM also mentioned that certain battles were much more brutal than others. The battle at the Freys was very bloddy, while the battle in front of Winterfel was not.
Hmm, thats all I can think of right now.
Oh, and he did mention that he put lots of legends into the books such as Bran the Builder. Bran the builder is supposed to have built the Wall, Winterfel, and Storms End. GRRM mentioned that he has become a legend so that people will look at a structure and say "wow, it must have been built by Bran the Builder" when it actually was not. This is GRRM's attemt on creating a world with myths and legends so if at some point you see, "They say it was built by Bran the Builder or Lann the Clever" realize that its part of the mythos.
. . .
Bolton didn't lie when he says that the Karastark men were sent to Duskendale and they then were with him at the Twins...Bolton split the Karstark host. George seem confused by my question and I think this is really a non-issue for him.
I got a couple of "Excellent cheese"s and many "Have another cheese doodle"s as well as one "Wouldn't you like to know" (When I sat down next to him and said "So. Who put the raven in the pot?") I also got a few answers of "That's an interesting theory." And Parris is no better. She just said "I'm not going to tell you that!"
My questions were:
Who put the Raven in the pot? (Wouldn't you like to know)
Did Mormont warg himself into the raven when he was killed? (That's an interesting theory)
Did Ilyrio think that Dani would be the mother of the Prince who was promised? Is that why he gave her the eggs? (Have another cheese doodle)
So. Are the Seven choosing champions from the Seven Kingdoms? (Really, these are excellent cheese doodles. Have some.)
So what's Stannis going to do when Mel decides to sacrifice Shireen? (Now, that actually startled him a bit. He said, well, yes, it is the blood of a king. Then he just handed me the bowl of cheese doodles. I'm not sure if that meant anything at all...)
[Note: The following several reports all come from ConJose. Rather than break each indivdual report into its own place, each reporter has all of their statements placed in one entry.]
So, I asked a bunch of questions that got an "excellent cheese" response from George, who was at least amused enough by our observation that he used cheese to change the subject that he went on to use cheese as the *only* subject change...
Anyway, here are the questions that I asked that got an "excellent cheese" response, and others can chime in with theirs. Other questions got outright "No, that's just wrong" (most of them Trebla's!)
Is magic coming back into the world because there are dragons, or are dragons coming back into the world because there is magic?
Is Bran the first of the "undead" champions of the gods? We all think it's Beric, but isn't it possible that Bran actually died when Jaime threw him out the window, and his powerful warg abilities and prophetic dreams are actually a function of being "chosen" by the Old Gods to be their champion - after all the three-eyed crow tells him "fly or die".
Do The Others warg into the bodies of the dead the same way that wargs go "into" the bodies of animals?
I also asked him about more historical stuff about Ghis and Valyria, I talked to him about the fact that in his books, the big combats rarely occur "on screen" and when they do, they're never from the point of view of a character who is a competent fighter - so is that purposeful? I also opined that "A Song of Ice and Fire" might as well be titled "A Song of Child Abuse" since children get such poor treatment. Oh, and I did get another "excellent cheese" when I observed that Arya is incredibly psychotic for an 11 year old girl. Anyone else want to share their "excellent cheese"es?
. . .
1. I asked "Is magic coming back into the world because there are dragons, or are dragons coming back into the world because there's magic?"
George said, "Yes. Hmm, there's excellent cheese on that pizza!" (in combination with some of the stuff he said on a panel this morning, I take it to mean that the seasons, winter and summer, are magical in nature, and he's going to reveal what it's all about eventually, but not yet.)
2. Son of Hot Pie asked about Duskendale. George said that the Duskendale rebellion happened because the Lord of Duskendale demanded certain rights for his citizens and the Duskendale town charter from King Aerys. He stopped paying taxes to demonstrate his anger. George said this was a key moment in Aerys' reign, because until then, he had always worked closely with Tywin to solve the realm's problems, but he and Tywin were no longer seeing eye to eye - so Aerys went off with the Kingsguard and a small force of men, and arrested and executed the Lord of Duskendale. During the struggle, Ser whathisface of Gaunt died, and Aerys did bad things to Duskendale as retribution.
. . .
I'm not sure Aerys was really captured - my impression was that Gwayne Gaunt was just killed during the fighting. Also, George said that Aerys just went off and did this on his own, which was the first sign of his growing distrust of Tywin... and perhaps (though George didn't say it) the first sign of his growing madness.
On one hand, this sounds important - on the other, George was very off-hand about it, and didn't even remember the name of Lord of Duskendale.
. . .
Ran, I asked George about the Ghis/Valyria - Rome/Greece thing. He said that there was no clear parallel, though elements of both are in both Ghis and Valyria. He also mentioned that he sort of had the Mamluk's and Jannisseries in mind when creating the Unsullied. (in that they were slave legions)
. . .
George said at ConJose that the maps are not necessarily accurate and "to-scale" ... precisely so that people won't yell at him when there seems to be a mistake.
GRRM held a short question and answer session afterwards and I think I will include what I gleaned from it here . . .
He is still writing AFFC. When he delivers it to his publisher, notice will go up on his website immediately (So I would say please don't write him to ask when it is coming out...that slows him down. ) The book will come out in England 2-3 months after he delivers it to his publisher and in the States 6 months after (sorry other countries...I don't know when it will be coming out for you ;( )
During Q & A, GRRM revealed what seemed to be the major reason for the five year gap. He said that he realized something. He had to deal with the reaction to Oberyn's death in Dorne. He thought of different ways that he could handle things. He could have just summarized what happened, without talking about it very much, but he did not want to do this. He could have decided that for some reason there was no reaction, or a delayed reaction, but the reasons he could come up for to do that did not make sense. So, he finally realized that the story needed to be told.
Someone asked him what RR stood for and he said "my middle names". Of course he has a great delivery so the room found that quite funny. He said he had been writing professionally since 1971. When he checked into a hotel as "George Martin" he was asked if he was the Beatles manager. I had never realized their manager had that name, and that was one reason he kept the RR. So much for folk who think he imitates Tolkien....
He was asked how he could remember all the details as he wrote several books over the years, since things are so complex. He replied "Maybe I have a trick head. I forget people in real life". Of course everyone understood. He can't remember folks he sees at conventions, etc. (Well...erm...he recognized me. Guess he has seen me enough). He explained that it was difficult because he had not done anything like this before and was now in his fifties. Previously his longest work was a single 450 page novel.
An anecdote that I thought was funny, still on the subject of memory. GRRM said that he sometimes forgets details, eye color may change, etc. He said that his dutch translater once caught the fact that he changed the gender of a horse. Heh. He said he was happy if he could just remember the horse's name and color, and does not have organized charts which keep track of the names of all horses.
And of course there are the people who want exact details. "They were long on the road" was the example he gave. He said he keeps things like distance and time deliberately vague. But someone would write inevitably write in and ask "How long were they on the road?". He just does not have rules for measuring the speed of a latent swallow, according to GRRM.
. . .
GRRM explained, as I said above, that the chapter he would be reading was one of seven from a Prologue of about 200 pgs in length.
Q: When AFFC is going to come out?
A: It is going slow, but I hope to finish it before the end of the year, so it should be published several months later.
Q: And how long is it going to be?
A: Certainly not as long as ASOS. Perhaps about ACOK length.
Q: How many books are there going to be in the series?
A: I still hope it is going to be six, but it may as well be seven. It depends how the story will flow. I am not going to force anything.
Q: There was a preview of AFFC posted on Amazon.co.uk. How much it has in common with what is really happening in the book? I am asking because there were some unexpected things happening in it.
A: It has some in common. I send it more than a year ago and I could change my opinion in some matters. Remember that the chapters I read at the conventions also aren't the final versions. I can change my opinion there as well.
Q: Are you definitely going to write more Hedge Knight stories.
A: Yes, there is a deal made for the second story in the anthology Legends 2. I hope to write several stories and put them together in a book.
In Tuesday there was a meeting in some bar which was supposed to be meeting with local fans, but not many of those showed up. There were some fans form Poland who knew ASOIAF, but they didn't yet read ASOS. One of them mentioned that his favorite character is Robb. Poor guy. GRRM said only that he have some surprises coming.
GRRM's speech was in Thursday evening. It was titled "Bat Durston, the Bard and Me". I believe it is already known. he told abut his career as a writer, mentioned that he wrote science fiction, fantasy and horror from the very beginning and doesn't think there is any great division between those genres. He added that in seventies science fiction was fashionable genre whilst fantasy was considered somewhat quaint and archaic. He also said that he wrote some science fact articles for Analog. It ended with his famous furniture theory: The furniture rules. Where you have spaceships in the story, it is SF, when you have dragons, it is fantasy, and when you have vampires, it is horror, even if the story itself is basically the same.
At the midnight tea party with GRRM which lasted two hours into the night (he is really wonderful guy. It was scheduled only for one hour) there was a lot of questions asked. There are some of them:
Q: You often kill off your characters. Why?
A: I often like to kill one of the main character at the beginning, to establish that I play for keeps. Nobody is safe! It is not the first time I did it. I admire Tolkien, but I think he made a mistake returning Gandalf to life.
Q: Your characters are paricularly well-drawn and people care for them astonishingly much. Which character you like the most and which perhaps the least?
A: My favorite character is Tyrion. He is perhaps the most like me and his chapters are the easiest to write. I don't really dislike any of my characters. When I write, I become them to some extent and it wouldn't be possible for me to despise them.
Q: Isn't it very difficult to write from the point of view of character that is less intelligent than you? I mean, you must ask yourself: How stupid this character can really be?
A: I don't think any of mine characters is really very stupid. It would be certainly dfficult to write from the point of view of someone like Hodor.
Q: Are you going to return to your science fiction universe? I know that you have unfinished SF novel Avalon.
A: I have several unfinished novels. I love my science fiction universe and I would like to return to it, but I am afraid it is a little bit dated. There are no such things as personal computer, Internet or nanotechnology in it. The question it: Do I write it into the new stories, risking lack of consistency, or does it stay as it was? I also had at some point a deal for second Tuf book, but nothing came of it. Still, who knows?
Q: Do you give your books to read to some friends, and do you change things when they say you they don't make sense?
A: I do. I especially want them to seek out discrepancies. They do, but still some mistakes slip through. There was a matter of Targaryen dynasty when had to change brother of one kings into an uncle, because a fan wrote to me that the dates aren't consistent. He was right. Sometimes the eyes of some character change color, and my Dutch translator wrote to me an a mail tahn one of the horses changed sex between AGOT and ACOK.
Q: Do you know how the story is going to end, or are you making it all up as you come?
A: Yes, I know the end. I know the basic outlines of the story, but not necessarily all the details, because it would take fun out of writing.
Q: What do you think about open ended series?
A: I think it is all right in, say, detective stories, when you have a detective resolving still new cases, but each story can stand alone. A fantasy series should have an ending. I may return to Westeros, to write stories set in the distand lands, as Braavos and other free cities, in the past, or in the future (important! It shows that Westeros does have a future), but ASOIAF will end.
Q: How your day of work looks like?
A: I rise in the morning, I start the computer and I answer e-mails (a lot of e mails) I have a coffee, I start to write and I have second coffee. In in the best days, after hours the coffee is cold, because I went to Westeros and forgot about it. But it is only on the best days. Usually it is more tough.
Q: Do you strive for originality in your stories?
A: I think originality is overrated quality. Consider H, G. Wells who has come with the whole idea of time travel. It was terribly original, because nobody did it before him. Then came another person who wrote about time travel into the past. It was also very original, because Wells wrote only about travel into the future, but he was already working on the second story of the whole edifice. The came another person who wrote about time paradoxes, and it was also original, but it was already the third story. Today we are all working on the forty seventh story and we can only add new details to the things invented by others. That is why I think the quality of the story takes precedence before originality.
There was a lot more, but I think those are the most interesting.
When I heard 'im talk saturday (yay! still psyched about that) he explained that when he started to write the 4th book (now pushed back to fifth) after the gap, he turned out to be writing hundreds of pages of mainly flashback sequences, people sitting around saying "remember when xx happened". He couldn't manage to make the connection in a good way, so that's why he removed the 5 year gap in favor of aFfC. This, incidentally, also cost him 6 months of writing time which were ditched, which explains some of the lateness of the book.
[Note: Having solicited questions to ask GRRM, Jasper says he asked only one, concerning whether Sword of the Morning was a familial office or a unique epithet for Ser Arthur Dayne.]
GRRM: "There have been other Swords of the Morning."
I went Sunday, and of course I was present when GRRM was being interviewed(by the dutch translator of his books) and we were allowed to ask questions. He'd said several things about AFFC that were new to me:
First of all, the prologue will be different from the prologues of the previous books. In stead of one viewpoint, there will be several, from characters at different places. This prologue will be longer than the previous ones, and be divided into sections.
When he told us of AFFC, he explained the whole 5-year gap thing, and that instead of five years, AFFC will begin seconds after ASOS' ending. Well, that of course we knew already, but then he said there will be some overlap; some of the scenes in AFFC will take place before or during the ending of ASOS.
When I asked him which of the places we never saw before, he is going to show us, he said that there will be quite some scenes on the Iron Islands, and also Braavos and Dorne. I am not sure if he meant that these scenes will take place in AFFC or simply in the following books.
Someone asked (again) if he could tell us if Ned was Jons real father or not, and GRRM answered that he will not reveal it (of course) but that the whole mystery about Jons parentage will be made clear somewhere in his book, not in AFFC, but perhaps in the last book, or even the book before that.
GRRM still wasn't sure whether he would write 6 or 7 books. He still hoped to be able to finish it in six, but couldn't promise anything. He also told that writing about the Red Wedding was very hard to him. It was in fact the last he had written of ASOS; he first wrote everything that came after it, the whole ending, and only then about the Red Wedding itself.
He said that in his original plan (when he wanted to write a trilogy) the Red Wedding would take place in book one, and Dany's landing in Westeros in book two. Now he says that Dany's arrival in Westeros will take place in book 5, A Dance with Dragons.
GRRM also talked about series with no apparent ending. He said that while the Wildcards were such a series, those were meant to be so, everytime another adventure, but that when you have a fantasy-series that keeps on going, with the end getting farther and farther away, that's a bad thing. I woder if he thought about Robert Jordan when he said this. It was mostly in response to the question when his series would end.
[Note: The following is futher information Harren provided after seeing discussion concerning the Iron Isles and Dorne.]
About the overlap-thing, IIRC GRRM first mentioned that AFFC will slightly overlap ASOS(or/and some scenes might even take place before ASOS ending), and at the end he told that there will be some scenes on the Iron Isles, Dorne and Braavos, that in response to my question; I asked if he is going to show us places we haven't seen before. So the Dorne/Iron Isles thing does not necesary take place in the overlap, perhaps not even in the book, because when he answered my question I wasn't sure if he meant that those scenes would take place in AFFC, or somewhere in the rest of the series. He did say something like "quite some scenes on the Iron Islands" or something like that, which makes me think that there must be a POV sometimes visiting/staying on the Iron Isles.
[Note: Calibandar's reference to "Ted's point" is in regards to the immediately previous report by Teddy Mormont]
To return to Ted's point, about Dorne and the Iron Islands, I recall now that Martin said that it did indeed overlap, I believe he said we'll see what happened in these two parts (his words were "and" , not "or" so both will be shown) there during the end of SoS.
Another details from the elf fair that proably interests most of us here: GRRM not only said there will be no gap, but also said parts of AFFC set in Dorne and the Iron Islands overlap with ASOS. That should have impact on the speculations about the new POV. It must be someone in Dorne unless the Theon POV is revived and the prologue is set in Dorne.
[Note: The information immediately below is a response to probing concerning the exact wording with which Mr. Martin conveyed the information mentioned above.]
I believe GRRM said parts of AFFC overlap with the previous book after explaining about the end of the gap idea and mentioned the Iron Islands and Dorne. So the plural can refer to both these aeras combined.
GRRM said at the fair that he will start to work on the second Dunk and Egg story after he finished AFFC. So this can't be the main reason for the delay. I didn't understand the title clearly, but I think it is going to be named "The Sworn Sword".
[Note: The following reports come from the Elf Fantasy Fair in the Netherlands, where Martin was involved in being interviewed and answering questions afterwards, taking part in a panel with other authors, presenting a lecture, and a signing.]
I was at the Fantasy Fair this afternoon where GRRM had a lecture, not about ASOIAF btw, so you didn't miss a thing that you couldn't have read somewhere else ( it was a recap of Science Fiction books from the 50's to the 80's). At the end it became worthwhile after all, because we could ask some questions. A question was posed about ASOIAF of course, about the storyline and release date.
He stated that it was "definitly behind schedule" and then started to proceed with some reasons, which most of us here know, about the Dance for Dragons, 5-year gap thing, and how that initially delayed things and how flashbacks would never work. Still, it became apparent that things hadn't been going all that well but GRRM didn't give a date. Yet. At the end someone else asked about a specific release date (again) and GRRM said that "I really have no idea. There's no way of saying right now, might be in Spring 2003, might not. It's a big book".
There was another question about the number of books, if he could keep it to seven, a question most of us here must have heard posed a hundred times before. And again, GRRM said he'd keep it to six, while Parris, stepping up, said that it would definitly be seven. Which I think means that it *will* be seven books, because I don't see any reason why she would be so adamant about over and over (unless they're being Impish again and again).
[Note: This report and the following one are recaps of answers GRRM gave to various questions during Archon, rather than verbatim quotes of his answers.]
1) Would it be exceptional for a junior member of the Kingsguard to be made Lord Commander over Brothers who have worn the white for a longer time? Or is the Lord Commander position something chosen solely on ability?
The Lord Commander of the Kingsguard is picked by the king. Seniority might play a part, but ability would also be considered.
When was Jon Snow born in relation to the Sack of King's Landing? Around the same time, a month earlier or later?
GRRM stated that he would have to look at his noted to be able to answer but doubted he would answer this question anyway. ;)
What's Hardhome? It's on the map of the area beyond the Wall, but it's never mentioned in the book.
Hardhome is the closest thing that the Wildlings have to a city.
Did Tywin Lannister's campaign against the Reynes and Tarbecks play a part in him being named Hand of the King?
A: It played a small part. Aerys and Tywin knew each other from their youth. Aerys was 19 when he took the throne and wanted a young court, not a bunch of old men around him. Jahaerys was 39 when he died.
Where did the idea of the Red Wedding come from?
A: It is loosely based on the "Black Dinner" from Scottish history. The king invited the sons of his dead rival to a dinner. He feasted them and then had a final dish served to them, with a single drum playing in the background. The dish was a black bulls head, which was the symbol of death. The sons were then executed.