The Citadel is an archive of information for George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.
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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.
I will go ahead an reveal one thing I learned at the signing. I took copious notes so much of what I say will be Martin's actual words.
A woman to my right asked "How many books will there be?" I braced myself for the usual type of statement GRRM makes, which is that there will be six and no more. But that was not exactly what was forthcoming.
Martin said that he hoped to do the story in six books. He said "I'm gonna do my damndest to finish the series in six books". He then said, "It_is_possible that it will go beyond six books". He said "the story makes its own demands". He mentioned that A Storm of Swords was quite long and said "I'm gonna try to get the later books down to the length of ACOK". He explained this a little bit. The implication was that he has a lot to tell and he is finding how limited he is with regard to the size of manuscripts. Then he said, "Hopefully, six books, but I'm not gonna swear it in blood anymore."
Later, over beer,I asked his specific permission to share this on the net and he gave it. He said its not definite that it will go beyond six books. In fact, he implied it might well stay at six books, but he is no longer going to swear that it will happen.
Ok, here are a few book questions I got in:
1) What is Casterly Rock like. Is it a fortress or is it actualy within the rock?
GRRM started giving descriptions. As we already know, we will see Casterly Rock in the next book. He said it was basically in the rock but that there were fortifications there. I don't know the exact words, but he said something that brought a picture to my mind of some walls and ramparts, framing the mouth of a cave. He also said, as brosan previously shared, that Casterly Rock should be thought of as like the Rock of Gibralter, but bigger, because this was fantasy.
2) I asked him about the Tower of Joy. What was its location - we know it the mountains of Dorne were in the background, but could he be more specific? I asked if it was a part of Summerhall.
GRRM replied that the Tower of Joy was not part of Summerhall, but did not want to say more about it.
3) I asked "If its not too spoilerific, could you tell us the translation of valar doeharis?"
GRRM replied "Naw, wait till the next book."
A fan asked "I was wondering if the fans ever bother you or bombard you with email and IMs?".
GRRM gave a lengthy reply, and he made very definite delineations between emails and IMs. Regarding IMs, he said you would not believe how many times he got on the computer and a message came through from "Fred the Lizard" or someone, saying "Are you really GRRM?", :::pause::: "Can you prove it?" We all laughed. He explained how he was on AOL so there were two things that happened with IMs. If it was another AOL member, the IM just came up on his screen. If it was a nonmember, he got a message asking him if he wanted to accept or ignore the IM. He said that he was choosing to ignore them more and more, because he had to. He said that many times he would just get done with one IM and another would start. He also said it was OK if it was a person with whom he had established a relationship and they had a specific question (I suspect this was partly a reference to my IMing him about his signing schedule a few days his departure for Germany. - One of my two IMs to him in three years.) "If they have a specific question, fine, but I really don't want to chat" is an exact quote.
Regarding emails, he said "I really don't mind emails so much because I answer them arbitrarily". He went on to explain about different types of emails he received. He said that sometimes he answers them very quickly, or even right when they arrive, because they have a simple question or remark. He said that other times, he puts them in a queue. "There are some letters in the queue I am embarrassed to answer because they have been there for two years", he said, and then gave a hypothetical example of how he might write "Hello, in response to your question of two years ago, I have now published two more books and as you can see.." We laughed. His comic delivery is good in person. Then GRRM said something that I thought might have been just the eensiest bit because I was seated in front of him and had identified myself. You see, if I email him, I always say not to answer if he is busy. He rarely answers me. But that has always been perfectly fine.
. . . he said "You must understand, the more philosophical and complicated the email, the longer I may take to respond to it. I will think, hmmm...thats a good one...I want to think about that" Then he might not get back to it.
I will now tell the story of what GRRM said when asked about the Stark children and their ability as wargs. He was asked if the trait of being a warg ran in the Stark family.
"I don't know if I want to get into genetics - this is fantasy, not scifi" He replied. "I don't think this is necessarily a 'Stark' ability, though all the children have it to one extent or another. They also realize it to one extent or another. Arya doesn't realize she has it, she keeps thinking she has these weird dreams, and of course Bran is much further along". Thats all I have in of an exact quote in my notes. I believe he went on to say something about how Bran was seeking the crow and then took the next question.
I am not sure this is anything new. But perhaps he had not said -all- of the children had it before. And perhaps he had not implied so strongly before that it was not genetic people like Ned would probably not have it. However, the later is my interpretation of something he was implying by words and vocal tone. He acutally only said what I recorded above, he did not want to discuss genetics, but the children had it.
Even better, at the GRRM meeting Lodengarl and I had with him, there were some Hollywood types he will be meeting with about the books. He wasn't too sure about seeing it as a movie since one book is too large for 2 hrs but he was hopeful of a miniseries like SHOGUN.
He didn't say anything about it until he talked about how some of his books didn't do well but now they're wanted b/c of ASOIAF. I told him that this series was the one that would make him a legend (not a big risk to say on my part!), he grinned and then told us about the information.
First off, here are a few extra tidbits which most of you may not know:
(1) I asked about getting more info about Jon's parentage at the Menlo Park Q&As . . . he mentioned that it wouldn't be in #4 but it would be in #5 and on . . . so, we can argue about Rhaegar and Lyanna for the next several years;
(2) At the Berkeley meeting, I asked if we'd be able to meet Howland Reed and while he said that there wouldn't be a POV most likely, we would get to know more about the man and his connection/knowledge to the Tower of Joy and Ned at Starfall. Well, I asked about his connection with Ned and at Starfall so he just said yes, we would, basically.
(3) Arya was one of the first characters created. Sansa came about as a total opposite b/c too many of the Stark family members were getting along and familes aren't like that. Thus, Sansa was created; he ended by saying they have deep issues to work out.
(4) GRRM totally "puts on the skin" of the characters; whoever it is; easier said than done but not all authors truly do that . . . he said (paraphrasing): "I like my readers to feel tears, horror, horny, hungry, in danger, exultation . . etc."
(5) Prefers to keep some POV info second hand b/c it's true to life; he has a big problem with some fantasy authors b/c you'll have three POVs or more in one chapter.
(6) As he already said, Tolkien is his model for magic . . . there's very little screen magic in LOTR but only wonder and legends . . . even the true power of the ring was never found out. So, basically it's best not to explain too much, have lots of mystery about it and be sure there's a price to pay for it.
(7) Lodengarl asked about how the different bastard names came about: GRRM pretty much told us they weren't from anything Historical but that he really like the name, Jon Snow.
(8) His book, WINDHAVEN, had a section of islands which were never explored. These became the model for the IRON ISLES.
(9) BEAUTY AND THE BEAST has several references to winter. Certain context and themes seem to have carried over to ASOIAF. He didn't say it but it was implied.
(10) Jealous that Tolkien had 5 or 6 names for many places; he has a hard time just getting one good one.
(11) Pearlman, from BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, would be great for Sandor. Best guy for Tywin: the father on THAT 70s SHOW and who was the father of the kid, who shot himself, in THE DEAD POETS SOCIETY (I think I spelled it all right).
(12) Of course, getting 2 or 3 big names is really hard so we probably wouldn't have all the big names that you guys listed on the boards. He didn't say that . . . I know that from my studies of Hollywood.
(13) It's his story and he knows he's going against the grain, but that's the way he wants to tell it (i.e. killing off characters, etc.).
(14) Tisha's fiance (I think I spelled Tisha right), Lodengarl and I spoke about why we liked the series: the gray characters, the lack of closure in some areas, focused POVs, good not always winning, the context, the way legends are so strong even if they haven't been fully explained (something RJ could learn from . . . oooh, SLAM!) . .. .GRRM was pleased and just grinned but heck, he can't say much and give his story away, right? He's getting his due finally and I think he's very pleased in that regard.
(15) He doesn't outline much for novels. He works with bits and creates as he goes. Since he hops around a lot, he worries that someday he may lose his sense of story and have nothing to write. I was going to suggest he could write more ASOIAF but I didn't think that would be considerate.
(16) ARMAGEDDON RAG almost killed his career b/c no one bought the book. Before that, FEVRE DREAM pushed him high up so it was a big drop.
(17) Most people read the paperback version of AGOT and a lot of his writing got around by word of mouth. He also feels that LEGENDS created a lot of awareness. People read his short story on Dunk and then looked for the series.
And, that was pretty much it on ASOIAF. We spoke a lot about DOORWAYS, since Tisha had been a child actor on it, and there were lots of stories. Lots. Interesting enough, he doesn't seem to care for Hollywood and gave his condolences when I said I would be pursuing it before novels . . . yet I think there were some things he really liked about it, since he spoke about many stories here and there.
Tisha spoke about her life. She reads his works, too, and recently stopped reading at the wheel. GRRM told her that's what audio tapes are for . . . lots of other things like her work in acting as a teacher and at plays, her fiance's music, their wedding, etc. Oh, turns out some fans invited GRRM to some wedding with the SEVEN KINGDOMS as a theme. A bit much, no? lol
After he signed my three books, he mentioned that maybe he should give him [Hot Pie] a son. Someone in back of us said she liked the idea, too.
He said he'll treat some of the younger POVs like adults in ADwD, even though they're technically young adults. Um... he thinks Arya is "older than some of the 40-year-olds in the book", what with all she's gone through.
He isn't planning on dropping any POVs in ADwD, other than you-know-who.
Oh, and Catelyn is three syllables. The "y" in Tywin is pronounced like a long "i". Targaryen is Tar-gair-ee-en (I think).
And some mildly spoilerish stuff:
My friend (who is a big Gendry fan) asked him, "Will Gendry come back?" He said yes, and "laughed mysteriously."
Sorry to those awaiting breathtaking news, but the MG signing didn't reveal a whole lot of new information, most of the questions were geared on the how-do-you-write-such-and-such level. Someone asked if everything was planned out in advance and GRRM replied that while he had to outline in Hollywood he doesn't do it naturally. Although some writers do outline to a fare-thee-well, and he knows the broad strokes going in, it works better if some of the twists and turns are spontaneous along the way. And in the event of his untimely death, we're just SOL. Comments about his writing women characters really well (which he was pleased to hear, because when identifying with a character not of your own gender, you have to do it purely on empathy, and it's nice to hear you got it right). The reading we got was from the Jon Snow meeting Mance Rayder scene. He mentioned that he's picking a different passage for every reading.
I had dinner with him afterwards (weep with envy!), but being a spoiler-phobic person, I talked about a lot of Other Things instead (collecting things off e-bay, origami, comic books, cons, the Frankfurt bookfair (which he said was BIGGER than the ABA with ten halls and attendance in the 100,000s, waiting to see who was president [he'd stayed up until 3:00am while in Toronto the night before], Ran's working out of the Targaryen succession, etc., etc.) But I did get up the courage to blurt out one small SoIaF query, which was if we've met a descendent of Dunk's in the SoIaF. He said yes. I also asked if his older books were coming back into print and he said that Bantam does intend to re-release them, in the order of most-like-SoIaF to least-like: so (I think. I have teflon brain) Dying of the Light, Windhaven, Fevre Dream, and then Armageddon Rag.
I don't think I was very entertaining during dinner, and it was just me and him (or it could be the fact that he'd just lost three hours [shifted from Toronto, the signing was actually 10:30p, and he'd stayed up until 3am for the voting results]. As to how I managed it, I'm still not quite sure, but it started about a dozen years ago at the San Diego Comic-Con. GRRM was still guesting the SDCC because he was doing Wild Cards. At that time, I was having fun learning origami out of books, and I had learned to do a turtle. So, while at a panel, I folded one, and then gave it to him afterwards (for the Wild Card virgins, GRRM wrote a superhero character called The Great and Powerful Turtle for that series). I apparently did this in successive years, although, with my teflon brain, I'd forgotten.
But when I wrote him my first fan e-mail this last August after reading SoS, he remembered, and asked me in the e-mail if I was the person who'd handed him an origami turtle, and was I coming to the signing. I said yes and yes, and he sent me another e-mail asking if I'd like to have dinner with him aftewards. After recovering from the heart attack :^), I said "HELL YES!!!" So, I've had about a month to choose a restaurant and fold origami, and specifically one particular model from a book I had.
[Someone mentions GRRM's statement about how hard it was for him to kill characters, and that he would play computer games to distract himself.]
I loved that, too. Also the mention of Lord Vance as a tribute to Jack Vance (GRRM mentioned that the Dying Earth books are back into print as one volume), and that he starts to put in those kinds of names when he has to fill out a list of minor lordlings and can't come up with anything.
Oh, for the historical fiction fans, the author that GRRM most enjoys is Nigel Tranter (whom he said was often depressing because he wrote about Scottish history :^). We had an interesting conversation, because we were sort of mirror images of each other in our Scottish historical reading. I'd read one Tranter, and all but one (King Hereafter) of Dunnett, while he'd read a little bit of Dunnett and all of Tranter. He mentioned his frustration that Tranter books don't have maps since Tranter tends to describe journeys using ALL the available landmarks (I also stupidly complained about there not being a map of the landmass Dany's on in the books, and he VERY politely pointed out to me that there was one in SoS [O the shame!]). He also recommended that I compare and contrast how both Tranter and Dunnett write about MacBeth, going off in very different directions with essentially the same historical material. And also that while he'd read some of the Niccoló series, he'd never read Lymond. I told him to stop reading Niccoló and start reading Lymond, or he'd be really confused by Unicorn Hunt. He said he hadn't got that far with Niccoló, yet.
I asked GRRM if we'd met one of Dunk's descendents in the SoIaF, and he said Yes. I didn't ask him who, because I'd rather find out by reading or reason, only I'm lousy at the reasoning part and want to make you guys do it for me.
Found out from GRRM over dinner last night that the BosKone book will have four pieces in it. The two previously unpublished pieces already mentioned [the script for the pilot of Starport, a proposed SF tv series, and the first part of what would have been a mainstream historical/horror novel set during the height of yellow journalism in the late 19th century, Black and White and Read All Over, "Blood of the Dragon", and "The Skin Trade."
God, my teflon-brain worsens. Another driplet missing from my reports: I asked if we were going to Dorne in DoD, and GRRM said "Yes. Briefly." I guess that means we're gonna see at least a few more Dornishmen.
A couple more drips and dribbles of what I remember: I mentioned that Beauty and the Beast scene (in the episode "Snow") I'd found where Snow dressed all in black (Lance Henriksen) says to Gabriel (Stephen McHattie), "Cold Night." and Gabriel replies "Yes. Winter is coming." He laughed pretty hard and said something along the lines of no harm in using a good image over. I then got cute and asked him if Winter was ever gonna frickin' arrive. He said, "Yes. In Book 5: the Winds of Winter."
LE's description of the Rock jiggled loose another small piece from the San Diego signing. Someone complimented GRRM on his ability to write realistic swordfights, and he thanked the guy, and mentioned that he uses experts to help fact/feel check for him: he knows an architect who can help with the castle designs, an SCA combat expert to help with the swordfights and a horseowner (something he said made me guess Melinda Snodgrass, but not sure) to keep him from turning horses into "cars with legs," as one sees in lots of fantasy. All the names of the guilty parties :^) are listed and thanked for their help at the end of the books.
Min and me went to the Frankfurt book fair to meet George. I think Min will keep you posted on how it was. But here is just a short overview on new information that we got:
Since George has not started writing DWD everything though can be changed ...
DWD will be thinner and quicker.
No new POV
Catelyn will not be a POV
More attention on Casterly Rock
No introduction on what has happened between ASOS and ADWD, but POVs will "reflect" on what happened (so no flashbacks either).
A new story (presumably Dunk) after ADWD, quicker if we can get Silverberg to do a "Legends 2" and he'll as George to contribute. Action please, Ladies and Gentlemen!!!!
A Television station has asked for a meeting regarding an ASOIAF TV-Series. But nothing serious till now. Could change though, if LOTR becomes a box-office smash hit.
George was very precise on "reflections" as opposed to flashbacks. Flashbacks would be "Tyrion remembered being resurrected from the dead ...." while reflection would be "Tyrion wondered why anybody would have tried to resurrect him ..." (of course that resurrection thing is my own theory).
One more bit. George said that the male lead from "Beauty and the Beast" (I forgot his name) would be perfect for playing Sandor. And that the Eyrie is based on Neuschwanstein and Casterly Rock is based on Gibraltar.
... His reason for the gap is simply that he thought each of the first three books would cover a longer timespan. He told us that since he was able just to write down a fictional span of 1-1 1/2 years in these books he had to make the break, otherwise he ASOIAF would be 10 books long.
He said on The Eyrie that he imagines it like Neuschwanstein (esp. how he walked up there) and that CR should be like the Rock of Gibraltar. That means not a fortification on a rock, but a rock as fortification.
One more note. George said that there is no written plan on how ASOIAF will end. So let's all pray for his good health.
...In fact he did not state that he did not know how it will end, he just said that there were no notes on it...
...George _will_ continue the Wildcards series. He thought the books constantly lost appeal since they became too dark, but he really wants to revive the series.
I had planned to go to the Frankfurt Bookfair, where George had said to appear. Min was not too sure whether she'd find the time but she sent a mail to George, asking for a meeting the next friday. On wednesday he called her at work, very politely and quietly waiting to be redirected, even to dial again as she was not there- and confirmed to have lunch with us (Min, her boyfriend and me, that is) at friday, 13:00. We should pick him up at the Fanpro booth. Now Min _was_ sure that she'd go and off we went on Friday morning. Traffic was not too dense so we were there way early. We looked a bit around to find Fanpro and saw George sitting there already and all alone. So Min went up to him, introduced us and asked whether it's a problem or not to start right now (it was 11:00 !!). George said no and so we sat down and chatted a bit. He seemed to be very happy to meet fans as only recently people begin to be interested in him (He told us of an incident where he had a signing session and no-one had appeared for a few hours).
Half an hour later, he invited us to dinner in a restaurant inside the fair where we presented him our present, a Cambridge History of Germany. He was very happy about that since he'd tried to find a book about that topic in English in Germany, but couldn't find one. Then he talked about Leipzig, meeting Omer, and other writers. We talked about Jordan, Tolkien, Cook and Howard, about Arya, Sansa, Sandor, Catelyn (he said that he himself was very surprised by what she did, but he'd had to let her have it her way). About movie business, epublishing, Armageddon Rag, Gothic Rock and Beat-bands, Wild Cards (he constantly came back to that topic), written notes and why people should buy proofs for over $1000. I showed him my drafts for the Castles of Westeros, which he approved.
We went back to Fanpro, still talking about various subjects and later met Werner Fuchs, George's German agent, who showed us the t-shirts (George gave Min the pile to choose one from as gift and she actually picked a Stark one for me! Lady Enchantress, that is.). George willingly signed all the books we gave him. Later he told us that he'd be in Cologne next tuesday, so we agreed on meeting there in the eveing to have lunch together. This first meeting was 4 hours long!
On tuesday, George again called Min to pick him up at a cafe near the Cathedral, which he'd visited after he'd been to the Romanic-German Museum in Cologne. As the chinese restaurant was closed that day, they agreed for a Balinesian one. We met there at 18:30, George bringing Andreas with him, who is his translator. Another friend of Min came with us, so we were 6 people happily eating the balinesian rice-table offered to us. Again lots of talk about ASOIAF, about translations, about Kane and LOTR, about Role-playing with fellow authors and why John Maddox Roberts was not allowed to take part in it. Lots of anecdotes which I won't tell here, and after some beers George even said the one or other not-so-nice thing about some fellow authors, but all with his very warm, nice and touching humour he possesses. Around 23:00 we went to a local in-house-brewery, where Min presented George her personal present while George recollected some incidents that happened to him, e.g. how he was responsible for the fall of the berlin wall. Finally we said good-bye to each other (everyone of us equipped with t-shirts) about 01:00. I had volunteered to drive George back, which took about an hour in which we talked about more serious things, such as history, christianity, ethnic leansing, asimov etc. So after 02:00 I said good-bye to him at the reception of his hotel.
I've met a lot of famous people in my life, but not somebody like George. He was very easy to be around, very witty, funny and good-humoured. It was more like having a beer with your neighbour than with a guy who's received several awards. On two occasions I heard him talk to other people (his agent and his translator) about how proud he was having such "cool" fans. And although he meant Min, D. and me, I think he included the board itself too. He was so enthusiastic about the in-con Asoiaf con and was very proud about it. I'm very proud to have met him.
...About Asimov, I had asked him if he thought about writing an auto-biography, but he said that it would be too boring. He referred to the second part of Asimov's biography where he just writes about when and where he wrote which book and how much money he got out of this, but didn't give away any personal information on his divorce.
...George said that although he has no talent at all to remember people's faces in real life, keeping a cast of thousands inside his head was much easier. He'd forget you in real life, but if you were one of his characters he'll know you.
Yes, in fact he stated he was surprised by what Catelyn did. Those characters seem to have a life of their own that's what makes them so unpredictable.
...I'll not go into details but may point out that GRRM confirmed that there are parallels between christianisation and what's going on in Westeros.
[Note: The report concerning two new WILD CARDS books is confirmed in an e-mail here.]
There are gonna be two new WILD CARDS books, as well as reissuing some of the oldies.
And about A Dance with Dragons, Martin said that he could easily put in a new PoV character, but he probably won't, because it'll make the book thicker, and he has to make ADwD thinenr than ASoS.
... Martin said A Storm of Swords was on the Limit of how large a book can get. So it just CAN'T be any thicker.
And I'm pretty sure Martin's gonna edit the Wild Cards book, probably with Snodgras's help.
He also said he has 200 pages of an unfinished Historical Horror novel that are gonna be published at some sort of an anthology in the near future.
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