[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.
In regards to the conversation about the dire wolves and the Starks the point was made (I forget by whom) that Lady was dead and Sansa still alive to which I replied that Sansa wasn't really much of a Stark anymore. IIRC (this is a little hazy), at this point GRRM kind of leaned back in his chair, smiled and said something to the effect of "A very astute observation." (Note: I was hoping someone else would bring this up as I didn't want to do any hornblowing... since Terra brought it up, but didn't recall the wording I felt the need. If anyone remembers his words differently I'll gladly recant.)
The next Wild Cards book will be an anthology of stroies set all across the Wild Cards history. Unfortunately due to other obigations the Great and Powerful Turtle will not appear.
Discovered on the way down that GRRM played any number of RPGs earlier in his career - many of them from Chaosium (so dammit get over to Storm's board to comment on my attempts to adapt the Chaosium system to ASoIaF - no you don't have to know the system to comment!). Wild Cards is, in fact, based on Super World characters.
GRRM is interested in putting together a source book but probably not before AFfC and possibly not until later still. Didn't really comment on whether or not it would be on line with a good version (my words, not his) of the Big White Book or something on line with Karen Wynn Fonstad's Atlas of the Land/Middle Earth.
.... Glenn Cook was also present at the show. He resides in the St Louis area and, judging from his booth in the dealers room, actually runs a bookstore. I managed to find a couple of the Dread Empire books and got him to sign them and my Black Company books. He wasn't very talkative as he had other customers but he did say that he planned on revisitng the Black Company but that he has four or five other things that he has to do first. While I was talking to Cook, Robert Jordan stopped by to peruse his wares. I hung around long enough to greet him and introduce myself and to see what he was buying - picked up at least one Orson Scott Card book (couldn't tell of it was Ender's Shadow or Shadow of the Hegemon).
Gareth and I made it to the Opening Ceremoy where George was the Toastmaster. He introduced all of the guests, doing a real good job of mixing in humor. Some of the more notable guests were Steve Jackson, David Cherry, and the lucious Virginia Hey. Another guest was Jack Stauffer from Battle Star Galactica. When he heard that George had worked in the TV industry, he wrapped himself around George's knee and begged for a job!
George finally got to Robert Jordan and informed the audience that he had an announcement. George stated that he would like to address the Internet rumors regarding the fact that he and RJ had never been seen together. He announced that he was in fact Robert Jordan!!!! RJ had been listening and snuck up behind him. A surprised George said, "Oh, hi!"
.... The reading was of course great and afterwards, as Terra mentioned, George stood in the hallway with us and answered questions. I posed a number to him and he answered a bunch. One he didn't but was kind of interesting was when I asked him who was the crown prince: Duncan or Jahaerys? He said something like, "Which time?" Huh?!? He then said we would have to RAFO.
[Note: Immediately below is a brief description of GRRM's "near-death experience". See this report.]
.... George was very gracious during the meal, telling stories and answering questions. He told us one about being stuck in a bad cold spell and being almost out of gas while looking for a friend's house. He made it to the house and spent the night. The next day they tried to leave and barely made it out of the driveway before the car ran out of gas!!
Terra covered a lot of the conversation. He was amused at who some of our favorite characters were. He remembered talking to the 3 of the cute girls from BwB at Worldcon and who they all liked: One liked Theon, one liked Jaime, one liked Sandor. He was exasperated that none of them liked nice, sweet Samwell!! I brought up the dead direwolf with the antler in the throat and asked if it was an omen. He said it certainly was, but the whole concept was debatable. Did the sign mean it was destined to happen? Or did the reaction to it MAKE it happen, i.e. Cat's urging Ned to go South, Nymeria attacking Joffrey, etc. Another subject was guest rights. He mentioned the time the Tyrion came to Winterfell and Robb met him with bare steel across his lap. That meant that there was no guest rights for Tyrion. God, we talked about so much, I hope I can remember everything!
[Note: Edited for brevity,]
... Then my partner and I went to get a bite, thinking we'll make it to the Opening ceremony in time. Wrong. We got back after Martin had spoken. Apparently, Jordan made a short speech when he was introduced. You all should ask Trebla or Gareth to report it, since I wasn't there. But it's funny.....
.... Next morning, grabbed the complimentary breakfast at the hotel. Went to Martin's reading and met Hauberk (already with Trebla and Gareth) in the hallway. There were roughly 30 people, I think. Was in heaven for an hour. The room was reserved for anohter function (very minor and unimportant, not worthy of mentioning) so we had to vacate after Martin was done reading. Martin held court in the hallway answering questions while the child-care room right next door was doing sing-along with The Lion Sleeps Tonight and American Pie. People asked questions for about half hour.
... Off we went to dinner. Had to wait 5 minutes for large table. Took pictures outside of restaurant while waiting. Then we had a barbecue dinner. Good stuff.
Dinner conversation highlights:
1. Martin lamented that this group has no pretty ladies.
2. Trebla (?) mentioned that some board members would really love to see more of Bronze Royce, and Martin commented on the preculiarity on how some readers will become attached to a character who had so little screen time and pratically no dialogue. He related a story from the Wild Card, where he had to kill a supporting character that has been in 5 scenes and had one line of dialogue "Where's the food?" He received quite a few angry fanmails about the death of that character.
3. Martin mentioned that he had a SF show written and the pilot shot, but the plot was stolen (unproven, of course) by Sliders. Basically, his concept was a multiple universe setting like the one Sliders' has, "except that the show is intelligent," said Martin.
4. Martin said that he can't see the books being adapted to a movie. A TV miniseries, maybe, but even then it's unlikely. But perhaps short stories like Hedge Knight can be made into a movie that can stand on its own.
5. Two new books in the Wild Card series will be coming out. One novel and one anthology, I believe.
6. A short discussion on Stannis' slaying of Renly. Martin just sat and listened. I made the point that killing someone on the battlefield is different from assasinating someone in their sleep, and Martin asked "Is it really? Are you saying that you would not have participating in the attempted bombing of Hitler? Instead, you'd prefer to kill him in battle where he'd have a fair chance in fighting?"
7. Short discussion on the significance of the wolf to the Stark kids. Martin made a rather assertative comment about the significance of Lady's absence in Sansa's life. Though I can't recall the exact wording.
8. Martin said he'll be attending Wis Con. Woohoo!
9. Martin recalled a near-death (okay, not THAT near) experience in Wisconsin when he was attending Wis Con in the late 70s.
10. Seems like ArchCon is Martin's regular stomping ground. He was their first Guest of Honor 25 years ago. He's been to all but last year's.
... Oh, I forgot who, but someone asked me to ask Martin about Bronn (Amryc?), whether he'll live till the end of the series. Martin said he can't answer a question like that. Sorry!
.... The interview was held at 2pm on Saturday. We went to that one after lunch. Martin introduced Jordan, and he repaid Jordan for his quip during the oepning ceremony. I'll post both parts since Trebla hasn't come on to post yet.
In the Opening Ceremony, Jordan got up and he started saying that his mother had had some mental illness issues with manic depressive disorder. He went on to say that he had inherited her depressive mood swings and that he's been fighting it on and off for years now. Once in a while, when he's in the depressed mood, he'll write and later on, publish the work under the pseudonym of George R R Martin (because his real name is actually George B B Martin, of course). Hah.
So in the interview session, Martin got up and said that it's true that he didn't write the Song of Ice and Fire, that it was actually Jordan who wrote it. That's why Jordan didn't have time to actually write the WoT, and instead, the WoT was written by David Eddings. Muwahahahahah.
Okay, so the interview went on. The interview was about Jordan. I mean, it was all him. Very little Martin. So I don't think I'll repeat the majority of it. The pertinent part is that Jordan said he had planned the WoT series to be 5 books (I did a good job not to scoff), but the story has its own mind and can't be contained (again, I didn't laugh). Martin said that he had the same problem. He had originally planned that GoT and CoK to be one book.
Other than that, it was about Jordan. Not even mostly about his series. Just himself. The highlight is that he served in the Vietnam war and he was, apparently, quite an efficient soldier. It did a job on his psyche, it seems. One thing he mentioned was that there was a picture that his friend took of him, where he was sitting on a log eating his ration, with 3 or 4 dead bodies around him. One of them was a guy with half his brain blown off by a grenade or something. Quite gruesome.
At the end, Jordan said there's a poll on Motley Fool (not sure if he's making it up or not) asking:
Which event will take place first?
1. Robert Jordan finishes WoT series
2. GRRM finishes SoIaF series
3. Obscure reference I didn't catch
4. Heat death of the universe
and the poll has #4 leading 5:1 to all other choices.
Well, I couldn't really get in any info about Dorne except to say that we will see more about in A Feast For Crows. But I was able to ask some other questions and did get some info.
Question 1: It is noted on occasion that members of the Kingsguard have led armies. Specifically, Prince Lewyn, Jon Darry, and Barristan Selmy in the War of the Usurper and Selmy again in the Balon Greyjoy rebellion. Is this a normal happening or a rarity?
Answer: It has happened quite a bit throughout history. The fact is, Kings are more likely to trust the Kingsguard and their loyalty than the High Lords who will be looking out for themselves.
Question 2: What made Balon Greyjoy believe that he could successfully rebel against Robert considering his limited strength.
Answer: Balon Greyjoy did not believe that many of the Lords would answer Robert's calling of the banners because he was still viewed as an Usurper.
Question 3: It had been stated that Howland Reed would come out in The Winds of Winter, which is the 5th book. Will he still come in the 5th book (A Dance with Dragon)?
Answer: He will appear eventually.
GRRM also revealed that aFoC will hopefully span the next 5/6 years so that aDwD can begin where he expected it to do so all along.
He also heavily suggested that characters that will spend their time learning in the next 5/6 years will not feature very much in the next book. But all current POVs will appear. So one can assume that we wouldn't get more than one or two Arya/Bran chapters.
This reporter believes the new PoV is that was not revealed is in fact Brienne. GRRM first reported that he struggled with the idea that there was a five year gap but that important events occured within that time period. So, he decided to scrap the five year gap and push A Dance with Dragons to be the fifth book. The Winds of Winter will be the sixth book. Parris is betting that the series will extend to a seventh book but Martin still wants to keep it to six.
But, I digress, the main reason he struggled with the gap was that important events could not be related via flashback BUT would have to be if there was a gap. In fact, he said that the unrevealed PoV was the main reason for this. This makes me believe that the new PoV is Brienne because she had taken Oathkeeper and was actively searching for Sansa. Also, I have repeated asked him for a Brienne PoV and when he announced that there was a PoV that he was not going to reveal - he looked my way.
[This report and the two following it contain SPOILERS concerning the next book. While these are relatively benign, skip over them if you're extremely squeamish about spoilers.]
The 4th Book will be A Feast For Crows, and will cover what would have been the five year gap. Some POV's -- who George said will be "learning" during the five year gap -- will have only one or two chapters.
The first of the new POV's is -- Cersei! A great chapter where she is awoken and informed of Tywin's death. It's obvious from her POV that Tyrion terrifies her -- and that's even before she learns of Tywin's death. She asks Jaime to take over as Hand, and he refuses. It's pretty clear that their relationship has changed in his eyes. Cersei decides to name Kevan Hand, thinking he'll be easy to control. Others will have more detail, but that's the essence of it.
The second Chapter he read was Tyrion's. It covers Tyrion's sea trip to Pentos, where he ends up at Illyrio's compound. Good stuff, but the end of that chapter was where a bunch of stuff came together. Without going into the detail, it amounts to Illyrio offering Tyrion Casterly Rock if he will throw in with Danys. And of course, we didn't get to hear Tyrion's response.
The identity of the other new POV is something he's keeping a secret for now, but he did say its a character with a story to tell that really can't wait. My money is on the Hound.
I just came back from Philly, and since Interstate 95 has congestion even at 11pm I had time to do some digesting of the dinner (forgive the pun). I was 20 minutes early, but was already happy that I was that much on time, considering my 1.5 hour drive. TrackerNeil came in 10 minutes after that, followed by GRRM and Parris. Five minutes later, the floodgates opened and many a board familiar showed their face. I was lucky enough to share a table with GRRM (there were three, sadly enough for some) -- but since I will not be able to make it to the suite party tomorrow night, I cannot feel guilty.
My table included Sam, TrackerNeil, Padraig, Andromeda, GRRM, Telisiane, Trebla and David. Then there was one table with Lannister (whose butt seemed undamaged as far as I could tell), Leader Lodengarl, Lilith, GreenGerg. The third table had Jeff and his mother, babyRaven. I forgot quite a number of people, for that my apologies. The BwB poster did the rounds, beautifully done, with my name gracing (amongst many many others) the bottom -- I felt genuinely surprised by that.
At some point a picture from GRRM's highschool days circulated as well. I have to say, the only reason I spotted him, were the glasses.
Which brings us to the man himself. I had heard his voice before during a radio interview, and he has one of those pleasant distinct voices that carries well without being loud. Since I am not attending the Con itself (something of which I now say "stupid, Stupid, STUPID") I will not hear him read from the new work. Even if it was old work, I am sure I would enjoy it immensely.
He is charming, interesting and interested. He made us all tell what we do in real life. I will leave to you to guess who runs the adult section of a video store. I was a little hesitant to actually bring up the books, but Trebla had no such inhibitions. Nothing revealing, people, I am sorry. Maybe some of the other Conners will con something out of him; apart from the reading that is.
Parris was always a bit of a blank sheet in my mind, but meeting her I was sorry that I didn't have time to talk to her as well. I guess I should skip Disney World and come to xxxCon (wherever the next WorldCon is) instead, eh Parris?
The bottom line for me is that I enjoyed it immensely, and that I am actually a little upset I cannot make it to the suite party tomorrow. It would have been great to debate Jeff Semper Veritas, or find out where Lilith found that sari (saree?), or try to keep up with the sheer amount of witticisms flying across the room. Obscure Cultural References abounded.
I was delayed a bit with some last minute items, but after a two hour drive arrived at Philcon, registered and got to the BWB session about 30 minutes late to find GRRM and Parris answering questions of various sorts for a group of about 20. No new info, except that George mentioned that he had rejected the proposed audio book since they abridged it to 9 hours, and would not go beyond 10. He felt it was missiog too much and that 20 hours would likely be needed. Understandably given the nature of the book. He did mention that the first couple of books were recorded in audio form by audio books for the blind.
I picked up Mr. Martin from his hotel at 9:45 p.m. (shame on me as I was supposed to pick him up at 9 o'clock, but I couldn't ran away from work until a bit later). SO I met him at his hotel, and apologised at least 40 times for the delay (which is typical spanish of course!). we took a taxi, and headed towards Plaza del Sol. In the taxi we talked about our lives, as I showed him all of Madrid's buildings that were on the way. A note for spanish people, Mr Martin met his agent in Spain and I understood that he was going to get published in spanish soon enough, but don't believe me over this wholeheartedly... well, we arrived to the Plaza Mayor, we're we had some beers.
We talked a lot about spanish history (The Cidian legend, the Moors and the Reconquest, spanish military orders, spanish titles... etc) and he told me that he did not borrow much (if anything at all!) from spanish history, since his only language, is, of course, english. We talked about trivial things and joked (I tell you, such a contagious laughter!)- Then, we proceeded to talk about Literature, when he asked me if I read fantasy. I confessed that I read a lot of history and historic novels, and that I read fewer and fewer fantasy. We talked about authors like Jordan, Raymond E. Feist, Terry Goodkind ( I have 3 books from his series, which I bought a couple of years ago, and still haven't touched them yet), Ursula Leguin, Robin Hobb and Guy Gavriel Kay (which we both admire). We spent a lot of time talking about the Wars of the Roses and we talked about the Yorkist, Lancastrian and Tudor ancestry and claims, and we compared our sources. We also touched a lot the Cathar heresy and the Templar implication on it.
We talked about the Spanish empire, Charles V and Phillip II and their reigns, the disaster of the Armada. We also talked about the classics: Shakespeare and Cervantes essentially. We also spent a lot of time talking on Colleen McCullough, and it turns out, that Martin is eagerly awaiting for her next book to come out ( so am I... the October Horse for those interested). We also talked about Patrick O'Brien and naval novels. And he admitted to be a fan of alternate history novels.
Of course, we had to speak about the father of fantasy: JRR Tolkien... and his disciples (mainly Guy Gavriel Kay). Mr Martin confessed that he was eagerly awaiting for the Lord of the Rings film, since as he told me, after the disappointment of Willow, it is a major chance for fantasy to conquer Hollywood... he also confessed that the success of the film could open the gates of Hollywood to many modern fantasists, including himself... oh, wouldn't a SOIAF film be wonderful!!!
After that we went to some "mesones" (typical castilian inns) to have dinner.... and we talked about ASOIAF over some delicious hams, cheeses, sausages, olives, omelettes, and wine. There are some subjects that I will just point out (and I will keep the information to myself. Please understand that I believe that Mr Martin said certain things in confidence; a confidence I will not break, of course), others, I'll make an effort to recall what was said:
* Ser Loras ( and I will keep this to myself as he was explicit) (sic!) LOL
* Warriors and Knights: he told me that he was sort of fed up when people wrote to him asking "who's the strongest fighter? Who's the best? Etc." He explained to me that there are some very strong fighters, he only mentioned 3: the 2 Cleganes and Loras.... ;) however, he could not conceive how people could wonder who was the best in a fight, battle or duel.... it just depends in the day, and everything... a fight is part strength and skill, but outside factors weigh much more that those 2.
* The Lannister succession
* Valyria... oh, and we will get to know much more on the Free Cities during the next books
* Brienne... we joked a lot about this. He told me that it was insane and foolish to believe that as in all fantasy, women warriors were fair and beautiful... For mercy's sake! Female warriors are ugly, manly and brutish... if not how could you expect them to fight against the likes of Clegane!
* I asked him if the Baratheon fight for the throne was after the Trastamara struggle in Castile, (as I asked him in an email) and he replied that well... who knows!! All over the world there have been struggles for thrones! What applies to one is the same in the rest.
* If Robert Baratheon takes after any King in history, that's Edward IV...
* The Wildlings and Tormund... (literally "Oh yes... he is a nice fellow")
* Dorne... and the border struggles in the Marches.... well I cant remember a lot about this precise matter. But he told me that well yes, there have always been skirmishes in the Marches, and new fuel to the Dornish hate towards Highgarden was added when the Young Dragon appointed the Lord of Highgarden as regent...
* Martin does not read the board at all!... sometimes his girlfriend visits us, and comments him about certain matters
* In his books, he takes ideas from everywhere (for example, the Rock is taken from the rock of Gibraltar - for which I glared at him... after all I am a Spaniard!), but he makes these bigger and wider... (Casterly Rock is way way way way bigger than Gibraltar)
* Ways in which you could storm and take the Eyrie with an army... :) basically just besiege it completely, and they will give up!
Someone ahead of me in line asked about the reissue of the Wild Cards books, and GRRM replied that they were going to be reissuing the first eight, hopefully to be followed by two new volumes. And that, if they can find Brian Bolland , they'll be using the Bolland artwork that was on the UK editions!! [you can see three of them on GRRM's SFWA bibliography page]. And if you don't know Bolland's work, I'd highly recommend seeing if you can dig up the trade paperback of Camelot 3000.
I mentioned in another thread that I asked GRRM if we would ever see a Cersei POV. He said that he is considering it. He thinks that it would be interesting to write but that he is not certain that it would be necessary to further the plotline. If it's not necessary, he probably won't write it. When I told him that I was trying to figure out if it was worth it to continue defending Cersei, he laughed at me and said: "You're defending Cersei???!?" Not very encouraging. All I could say in my defense was: "Well, I used to defend Jaime too, and that worked out rather well."
I just got back from a book signing with GRRM. Wow! It was relatively small, no reading, so my brother, two friends and I had the opportunity to stand around and pick the Great One's brain for nearly forty minutes. He was wonderfully accomodating and I was very pleased that he -exceeded- my expectations.
Varys was the other conspirator with Illyrio Mopatis on that stairwell beneath the Red Keep when Arya inadvertantly did some spying in AGOT...
This third Targaryen might very well be -not- a Targaryen, to quote his exact words... "Three heads of the dragon... yes... but the third will not nessesarily BE a Targaryen..."
We will meet Howland Reed, but not in the next book... he(Howland) knows just to much about the central mystery of the book...
We will learn lots about the Harrenhall tourney in the next three books, so, any prequel work he is considering will strictly be the continuation of the Dunk and Egg stories...
He has a meeting next week in Hollywood with a few execs' who want to make a TV mini-series out of these novels, I strongly tried to dissuade him... but he seemed leary of accepting thier proposal anyways...
About another two years for ADWD... but he is hoping to boost his production speed... hope he can...
The rest was just about his world building and how deeply he immerses himself in reference materials,... I tried to pick his brain for any writing tips he could give me... wow!
Quite a guy, it truly was an honor to have the opportunity to question him repeatedly, and enjoy his Tyrion-like wit... though he wasn't very forthcoming about many of the things I wanted to know, that's o.k. I am very happy...
As to his world building . . . he related how he is a monster reader. Always reading. Reading reading reading. On his holidays that is -ALL- he does. He plunges into whatever reference materials he can find that pertain to what he is writing. Seven Kingdoms? Medieval history, warfare, life and times. You got to live and breath it, know your world so intimately that there is no question what utensils they eat with. Even which hand they wipe with! Once one is this comfortable with their realm, diving in and finding stuff to write about is instinctual, done without coersion.
He told of how he started this tale of the Seven Kingdoms. 1991, he was about fifty pages into a sci-fi novel when he had a sudden inspiration, which in the written word, translated into the first Bran chapter from AGOT. It evolved from there. He had to put it aide for a couple of years as he was still screenwriting and had other commitments, but after that he found he had much to say about Westeros.
I also queried about the possibility of him endorsing a 'Legends' type book, allowing other authors to also dive into Westeros... Gods... he looked at me as if I were an Other who had jumped out of his subconciousness... ha! I wish you could have seen it! He loves his creation much and jealously will he guard it.
Oh yah... and he has finished the screenplay for 'Feverdream'. Disney bought the rights. It was very hard for him. He had to dismantle one of his own favorite works for a movie, it was very difficult for him.