The Citadel is an archive of information for George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.
New to the series? Read our spoiler-free review of A Game of Thrones.
Question 1 - How can I be an extra?
He doesn't know. He's suggested to HBO that they sell the rights to be an extra.
(Someone brought up information about Extras Northern Ireland about being an extra.)
Currently looking for swarthy men who can ride horses. (He didn't think the person asking would meet the requirements for swarthy.) He hears they are looking for a certified butcher. Then you would have a chance.
Question 2 - When will the show appear on tv?
He doesn't know. Next year some time. Earliest would be March or April or May...maybe next fall if HBO decides to delay it. He thinks most likely next spring.
Question 3 - Does he have a walk on part on the show?
We will have to watch and see. Maybe.
Okay now on to the reading...I'll try to post the Q&As as they are asked when we get to them in a while...
I apologize in advance for any errors but I'm typing on a tiny computer on my lap with no spellcheck.
Question 4 - Where do you come up with all the character names?
He makes them up. Names are sometimes difficult and he struggles to find the right name for a character...one that sounds right. As a young writer when you are learning how to write - other writers tell you the rules - like you should never have 2 characters with names that start with the same letter. He followed this for years. You don't want Edward and Edmund in the same story. Its a great rule but with ASOIAF, more than 26 characters so he would run out of letters. So he drew inspiration from English history where everyone is named Edward or Henry with a Richard here and there. You differentiate the way historians do. The Percy family (Northumberland) loves the name Henry but they have nicknames for each title holder like Hotspur. He wanted that sense of realism with his names. So Brandon occurs frequently. Tries to make each family with naming patterns that are still a little different. But with innkeepers...wtf to name them? When the name is right, you feel it is right and when you don't have that feel you keep casting about for them. Tolkien had a gift for names. He not a linguist or Oxford don so can't hope to duplicate this. Jack Vance great with names.
Question 5 - As you are writing, how much of your day is consumed with the series?
It varies day to day. He does stop thinking about it when in the middle of other things. In the fall, he takes Sundays off from work due to American football games but works the other 6 days. The rest of the year he works 7 days a week. This doesn't mean he is writing that whole time. As a writer he has many obligations - correspondence, covers to approve, contracts to sign, 3-4 agents to deal with, movie deals - this all infringes on writing time. But ASOIAF is always there in his mind. Sometimes he gets into grooves where writing is going well and he will devote more time to it. On such days, starts work in the morning and vanishes into the word and when he stops and looks up it is dark outside. These are great days. When this happens it can last for several weeks and he will get lots of writing done. But then everything else is neglected and publishers will start calling with demands and he has to switch his attention to them. He wishes there were 3 of him or twice as many hours in a day.
Question 6 - How much development of story before he starts writing a book?
When he began writing, nothing in advance. He barely knew who the characters were. Its an ongoing process and it does get complicated. He has all these fans which is great - but they are sons of bitches and will point out mistakes.
Question 7 - Jim Butcher relies on fans to keep the details. Do your fans help you with the details?
He has his own notes. He has uber fan - Ran - when he is doubtful about something he runs it past Ran...like re eye colors. Eye color...he regrets giving anyone colored eyes. Some stuff you can kind of look up - thank god for search and replace to see every mention of a certain character - but can't search for blue eyes as its too common.
Question 8 - Do you have rules worked out for magic?
Whole book is to his discretion as to how it works. He doesn't have a magic system specifically. Some authors do but too like D&D for him. He went back to Tolkien when he got into the book seriously. Thinks Tolkien is still the master. What you discover when you read Tolkien with eye to magic is there is very little magic. Gandalf is wizard - wise but he doesn't whisper a spell and slaughter an entire army. He thinks fantasy needs magic as a seasoning. Too much seasoning and you can overwelm the dish. Too much magic can ruin a fantasy. Magic has to be magic - something that violates law of nature. "Unknown" - published between the two World Wars writen by Campbell - a real rationalist with a particular brand of fantasy. Campbell treated magic as science. GRR enjoyed reading them but that approach to magic and the aproach in role playing games is...just science, not magic. Magic has to be more mysterious than that. He wants less Campbell and more Lovecraft. It has to be dark stuff we can't fully comprehend. Use it sparingly so it has impact.
Question 9 - In Feast, some chapters have titles, others have names...what is reason for this?
He will let us try to figure it out.
Question 10 - How important is realism in his work?
Well he writes fantasy but he tries to give it some realism. Obviously his characters and world don't exist. But he wants it to feel like its real. He is a fan of historical fiction and wants his books to have the realism of historical fiction.
Question 11 - Re titles he considered for series or individual books and didn't use...
So far no ASOIAF titles he has come up with that haven't been used.) ASOIAF originally supposed to be a trilogy. He likes all his titles that he has come up with so far - they ring for him. That doesn't mean he won't change any if he comes up with something he likes better. He has put future titles out there so hopefully no one will use them. But he worries that someone is going to come out with a book titled D w/ D before he does. Fever Drem was River of Blood then Red Thirst then a couple of other titles. Sometimes publishers weigh in but not in his case.
HBO series is called Game of Thrones not ASOIAF. Second Season going to be Game of Thrones - Season 2. He agrees this is a better name for TV series than ASOIAF.
Question 12 - Does he know how the series is going to end?
He does know - not going to tell us.
Question 13 - Is it going to be easier to finish the books after A Dance with Dragons?
Not going to say anything is easy - just tempting fate. Especially last book. Last book has frustrated him in terms of how long it will take and when it will be done. Some fans complain he doesn't update enough re the status of the book or give predictions of when it will be done. There are actually fans who feel he finished D w/ D years ago and is witholding it from them.
Question 14 - Did the work he did previously in script writing influence this series?
Yes. He worked in television for 10 years (1985-95) and wrote for a lot of tv shows. While doing this wrote and edited Wild Card series. Both had impact on structure of series. TV is driven by commercials. There is always a fear that if each part ends on a dull note, people will turn to a different channel with the commercials start. So tv shows must be structured around cliffhangers at the end of each act before you go to commercial. That seemed to him a valid way to structure a book as well - structure your book with a series of act breaks. In his books you don't get commercials, he switches characters instead. Some readers read the books one character at a time instead of straight through. This frustrates him as it goes around his structure. The writing of dialogue was also greatly influenced by his time w/ television.
Question 15 - Will there be more Hedge Knight stories?
Yes. But ASOIAF must come first. So only in between.
Question 16 - He has a repeating motif of the buddy story in other books like Fever Dream or Hunter's Run - the characters have a bromance. If he could do a buddy story w/in ASOIAF, who would it be between?
Jon and Sam have a buddy...but this is distorted by Jon being a commander. With chapter he read from D w/ D (Jon chapter), he is trying to show how lonely it is to be a commander. He does think friendships are important. In new book some situations that might qualify as buddy stories but with a sting in the tail.
Question 17 - Whats with all the horrible things that happen to his characters?
Complex question. You write the stories that you want to read. He likes to read stories that involve him but he hates predictable stories. He likes to surprise his readers. There are many things we get out of reading fiction - but most important is vicarious experience. The best books are those where the adventures feel like they are happening to the reader. He looks back on Lord of the Rings which he first read when in junior high school - he can't remember who sat next to him or who his teachers were back then but he can remember everything that happened in the book. For him these fictional things are more real and remembered like they were his own experiences. There are techniques for achieving this - you engage the emotions of readers and make it real. You engage their senses. When he writes about feasts, he wants you to taste the food and smell it. He wants sex scenes to be arousing or frightening. With battle scenes, the reader needs to be afraid. War is filled with moments of boredom punctuated by extreme terror. Wars are part of fantasy. There is fear and then there is fear...we enjoy "fear" from riding a roller coaster and we call it "fear" - but it isn't really fear. We don't really think we are going to die when on a roller coaster. We experience a different fear when walking down a dark alley alone, thinking someone is behind us. We aren't afraid for Indiana Jones when he faces 40 Nazis - we know he will handle them okay and we will enjoy it but it doesn't really invoke our emotions. He wants the reader to sense that any of his characters could die at any moment. This needs to be established very early on in series. He doesn't want you to think anyone is safe.
Question 18 - Any characters in his books based on people he knows?
Some people. Where do we get characters from? You base them on people you know, from other books, and on yourself. Yourself is the biggest source of any character as it is the person you know best. Empathy is the most important skill for a writer - the ability to imagine yourself as someone other than yourself. He doesn't tend to do 1 to 1 things - cousin Fred is not replicated in whole. He might take some traits, however and give it to a character. It is a mixture of ingredients. Empathy and yourself most important in writing.
When he teaches a writer's workshop he gives an exercise to the students where he asks them to write an (anon) simple page about the wrost thing they have ever done. There is a certain vulnerabilty as a writer. Eventually you are going to write a story you don't want your mother to write. Its a good test for a writer. Most of us are saints and sinners and the most heroic of us have done shameful things.
Another useful exercise for a writer is to write a story from viewpoint of someone you hate. Someone who would violate all your...if you are right wing, write from viewpoint of communist. Try to make that person human. Its a good exercise for building empathy. He really tries to get inside skin of all his characters. Even Theon. Theon has his own reasons for doing appalling things so needs to be able to see why he does what he does and undestand it.
Question 19 - Re Tolkien being surprised at what happens in his books.
He has experienced that to some extent. There are 2 kinds of writers - architects and gardeners. An architect outlines everything before writing. Architect does models and drawings in advance before building gets built. A gardener digs a hole in the ground and waters it with his blood. A gardener knows a few things in advance - like what he planted. GRRM and Tolkien are more of gardeners than architects. Analogy of a journey. He is going to western Ireland after this. He has a map and a GPS and know places they will be visiting but doesn't know every twist and turn along the way. He doesn't know what hitchhickers they will meet or restaurants they will eat at. There is the unknown. His books are like that. The small details are the fun of the journey. It makes it fun and not a chore. For an architect all the fun is in the design stage.
Question 20 - Religion increasing as focus in series?
The religious revival in Westeros will continue to grow in series.
Question 21 - What books can't you stand?
He doesn't like to slag other authors. There are many books he puts down that don't capture him. As he was pulling books from his shelves for this trip, he realized he has too many unfinished books on shelves. But he prefers to concentrate on good books and authors.
Question 22 - CE Murphy asked re killing off his characters...but lost her question mid sentence and just gushed for a minute instead.
Question 23 - Anything he has kicked himself about including in book?
Too strong to say he kicked himself for including anything. He has a very complex plot. As he has struggled recently he wishes he didn't have so many balls in the air. Did he really need 7 kingdoms? 5 would be good. Or 9 free cities? Gene Wolf (editor for plant engineering magazine) was not dependent on his writing for income so he wrote an entire series of 4 books before sending it to his agent. This allowed him to go back and edit the entire series after knowing what happened. There are days he wishes he had the freedom Gene Wolf had to write like that. But then none of us would have read anything from him at this point. But he has no salary except writing so to pay his mortgage he had to publish books as he finished them and has to deal with result. But sometimes wishes he had freedom to revise.
I was lucky enough to sit next to George and have a drink at the party. I asked him how they built the Eyrie and did they use any magic. He said no magic, they just built it slowly. And as I didn't win anything in the BwB raffle at the party, I got a consolation hug from George.
[Note: This report is a tiny bit spoilerish, describing both the identity of the prologue character but also the identity of which POV has the first chapter in the book, a detail we have not previously had. If you're interested in reading full reports and speculation on the prologue, visit this thread on the A Song of Ice and Fire forum.]
Hello everyone. My name is James--I was at AussieCon, and as a part of my write up for Dragonmount I included reports on the HBO panel with George, a transcript of his reading of the prologue, my recount of the BWB party and what I remembered from the coffee talk with him (basically nine of us at a table with him for an hour talking). I thought I'd share those with you--hope you enjoy.
I'm not gonna put the transcript up straight away because I'm not sure how you guys handle spoiler stuff like that. Can someone post and let me know?
HBO panel at AussieCon
We also did make it to pretty much every panel with George R. R. Martin on it. Friday’s one was about the HBO series, which was hysterical because George wasn’t allowed to actually say anything about it. He wanted to show us a trailer, promo pictures, behind the scenes stuff and at each point HBO was like "oh no, you can’t show that! It will ruin everything!" right up to and including his own personal pictures taken in morocco. So it was a very strange panel—one where he couldn't speak about what he was supposed to speak about.
It was nonetheless awesomely fun. I could sit and listen to George talk about nothing, frankly. He's brilliant. In this case George told us about his past in television. He worked on both the Twilight Zone (at one point he was speaking about working on Twilight, which horrified me until I realised he'd gotten distracted and simply hadn't finished his sentence) and the tv show Beauty and the Beast. He said that his scripts were always too long, with too many characters, which led to him eventually deciding to write A Song of Ice and Fire—where he would have thousands of characters (I think the phrase he used was "families with a hundreds of members, rather than three").
So essentially, he set out to make A Song of Ice and Fire "unfilmable". Yet when something hits the bestseller list (especially a series, thanks to Star Wars and LotR), Hollywood will sniff around. The problem was length—Lord of the Rings (the entire three part trilogy) was the length of game of thrones. Three, three hour movies to do one of his books. Twelve to do all the books currently written. Twenty one to do the entire series. As such all pitches for a filmed aSoIaF were along the lines of "Ned’s clearly the main character, let’s cut everything but him", and "Dany is on another continent, let’s get rid of her". Then finally came the suggestion—a HBO mini-series.
If I walked away from that panel thinking anything, it was that I now feel safe that the adaption is being handled with the care it deserves. No Legend of the Seeker rip offs, so yay for that. The one other thing I remember was George saying something like that now he’s met the young actors he wants to go back and change the books so they’re nicer. He wrote these horrible things happening, and now lovely young people have to act it. He was quite funny about it.
Brotherhood Without Banners Party
Was a lot of fun. I understand there were all sorts of problems with the hotel, which was crap, but I nevertheless had a brilliant night. Me and my freind Josh got to meet George. Josh asked him whether the triangle between Rhaegar, Lyanna and Robert was meant to be a tripod on which the series stood, and George said no. (Don't ask me why he asked that. Josh has some weird concepts). There was more to George's answer too, but I don't remember, sadly. By this point I'd had several of the tasty beverages the BWB were kind enough to provide us with. I did get a photo with him though. :)
Then I got to meet several of the BWB, including Stubby and Neal. Those guys were so awesome--we chatted about the organisation of the party--which sounded nightmarish with all the mess ups on the behalf of the crown plaza, so more power to them--and then they gave me a limited edition brotherhood without banners badge, which rocked! They also gave me a whole bunch of Wheel of Time bumper stickers to hand out at the WoT panel the next day, and a Brandon Sanderson/Way of Kings bracelet which I later learned glowed in the dark--I tell you, waking up at three in the morning to Brandon Sanderson glowing a vibrant green inches from your face is an experience!
Then the raffle happened and Josh won! Which I suppose stands to reason because he bought twenty tickets. But still, awesome. Josh asked George what he should take, and George said the Pat Rothfuss illustrated book--and it was awesome. It's called The Adventures of The Princess and Mr Whiffle, and lookes like a childrens illustrated book--with a gold sticker on the front that says "This shit is not for children. Seriously!" And it wasn't, but it was cool. :)
That was about it. Josh and I went back to our room, and did normal pre-bed stuff--you know, brush your teeth, debate the inherent implausibility of the concept of perfection, get a drink of water--and went to sleep.
Coffee Talk With GRRM
More writer based panels, and then Kaffelatches with George R. R. Martin. Now I translate Kaffelatches as "Word I Cannot Pronounce", but apparently it means "coffee talk". So that’s what we did, sat around drinking coffee (or in my case hot chocolate because I’m like twelve), and chatting with George. Which is precisely as awesome as it sounds. There were nine of us, and I got to sit directly besides George (through some degree of active bullying, I’ll admit).
Someone had brought George Tim Tams, which I hadn’t realised was an Australian thing only. Then another person at the table informed George that he had no idea who he was, to which George replied "That’s ok, I have no idea who you are either." Then we discussed football, and I got the glazed expression I always get when people discuss football around me. George certainly seemed to get a kick out of it though.
Then someone asked about fan fiction, which George says he’s asked about often. He said that no he doesn’t like fan fiction, and he made the point that it doesn’t help the writer grow. He spoke of when he was young he would write what was then called "fan fiction", which was not writing other peoples characters, but rather if you were a fan of super hero comics you would write your own superhero. It was fans writing fiction. He also pointed out that they haven’t paid for this right, and that if they wanted to write fan fiction then they should approach the publisher or the author and buy the right to do so.
He brought up slash fan fiction, and said he’s been called a homophobe for being against it, and that he’s not a homophobe and there are gay characters in aSoIaF, he just doesn’t want people making his straight characters gay any more than he’d want people making his gay characters straight. It was then asked if he saw role playing as different, and he said yes. Writing your own voice in the world was like a way of exploring the world, expanding. I asked if he then had problems with roleplayers changing canon events—say keeping the Kingdom of the North alive and well to allow you to roleplay in Robb’s court, and he spoke of the fact that alterations for the good of the new medium happen—he used video games as an example. He didn’t seem as concerned with that, as with altering characters.
I’d gotten the sense that he’d faced a lot of flack for his hard stance against fan fiction, so I asked him if he had to deal a lot with the fans sense of entitlement. He replied that he had to deal a lot with the fans sense of entitlement for a Dance With Dragons, and then he spoke about some of the emails he received, and how they could be quite hurtful and nasty. He spoke also about having to moderate messages on his blog because of trolls, and how much he hated that—not just because they were writing attacks against him, but because then his fans would come through and protect him, which would lead to fights which he felt bad about.
Then he spoke about the opposite, receiving grand reviews like "GRRM has written the best book since Tolkien", which was awesome, who wouldn’t want to hear that? And then the next days he sits down to write "the best scene since tolkien" and goes "oh fuck!". That got a good laugh.
I asked whether he’d enjoyed the Suvudu cage match, and he said he had. He said he hadn’t really cared about it, but then they’d chosen Jaime. He said something along the lines of "there are all these characters with super powers, and they give me a swordsman who’s lost his sword hand. What the fuck am I supposed to do with that?" And everyone had a good chortle. He said he hadn’t gotten involved until the second match when they’d put Jaime against Cthulu, and that then he’d felt he had to—and so he wrote a way for Jaime to win, which was essentially having Tyrion ensure Cthulu never shows up to begin with.
Then he spoke of the battle with Rand, and the rabid Wheel of Time fans (said with affection) and someone outed me as a WoT Admin on Dragonmount, and George gave me a look like "Oh, you’re one of those are you." Heh. Then he spoke about Robert Jordan—he’d met him a fair number of times at conventions and the like, and they’d gotten on very well.
Someone asked him about music influencing (something—his writing, the HBO, not sure, I missed this question, but made a quip about the fates and allegiances of minstrels in aSoIaF always being nasty, which got a laugh, so yay). He then gave some advice about writing—said that people, including him, too often told instead of showing, but then went into further depth than I’ve ever heard, pointing out the insane overuse of eyes. He told us he hadn’t even noticed what colours our eyes were, much less whether they were "shifty". He said look around the table and see if you can see someone shifty, and three of us all pointed to the same guy at the one moment, which got a laugh (he was a nice guy).
Then Paris (George’s partner) arrived on this moped thing and called out "I’m here to pick you up darling", and they joked back and forth a bit. It was pretty cute—they’re both just like big kids. And that was sort of it. Paris had a Tim Tam and we all said bye, and then I walked outside and bounced off walls for an hour.
Ran, I am sorry I didn’t ask George a single ASOAIF related question, however I did ask him whether he had ever considered revisiting his "Thousand Worlds" mythos and perhaps filling in some of the back story. His answer was (as best as I can remember) that he wrote those almost thirty years ago and that he is a different person and writer now, so it would be very difficult.
I’ve just typed up a few questions that WERE able to be asked today. I will try to ask more at the party tomorrow as well. Now, these aren’t from a transcript…they’re not word for word. They’re the answers he gave in essentially the wording he used, but I’ve written it from my notes and memory. He also mentioned that he’s really overall very pleased with the actors, especially the children. He said Maisie, Isaac, and Sophie are all amazingly talented, grounded actors. One story involved Isaac climbing to the top of these stone walls and towers with a harness on and just having no fear. Was great to see him so excited about the people breathing life into his works.
In any case, here’s the questions and answers so far:
1) Q: To what extent are you consulted when it comes to additions or changes to the story to make sure it doesn’t create inconsistencies for you that’s in store for the rest of the series. Have you had to review any secrets of the book series the eighth and development of the show?
A: Yes I have actually, there have been many meetings and such to discuss this and the result has been I had to share several secrets of the upcoming books In order to help out with the writing of the series itself.
2) Q: Do you think that once the show comes out and you begin watching it, It’ll influence what you write in the rest of the books? I.e. do you think you’ll be influenced by the actors and write something that maybe when you wouldn’t have otherwise written?
A: My honest answer is I don’t know. I will try everything I can to not let it influence me but the fact is, I’m human and I’ll be watching the show just like everybody else and who knows what will happen? I like to think that nothing will influence what I have in store for these characters and the rest of the books.
3) Q: Are the designs for the costumes and swords and that sort of thing brand-new or are they taking it from you and existing art, posters, replicas, miniatures etc. Do you influence them? Because we know you’ve given descriptions in the books and that sort of thing… or are they being designed by artists and set designers from scratch?
A: Honestly it’s entirely brand-new. HBO has been doing it their own way with their own artists and designers because to take it from anything existing would breach copyright infringement. So for the sake of legal reasons as well is artistic pride, it’s really been done for the ground up and it will be HBO’s version of all these designs, elements, weapons and armor and that sort of thing.
4) Q: Have you seen any of the footage that’s been shot so far?
A: I’ve seen a rough cut of the pilot that was put together and I’ve been there for some shooting so far and everything that I’ve seen really looks great. I’m very excited about it–Very happy with it so far.
Stubby had introduced me to George earlier in the day, and it was so fantastic to finally meet him, shake his hand and have a chat. My day would have been absolutely great just with that experience, but wait, there's more ... dinner with George - I'm sat a fair ways down the table away from George, but honestly it was perfect to begin the evening like that. Paxter was sat opposite George and Cam made a joke about whether he would accept $50 to swap spots. Later Parris left the table and Cam had an opportunity to sit next to George for a while. After the meals were eaten, Paxter and Ski got up together (obviously sharing a room featuring a frosted glass window to the ensuite is not enough! :lmao: ) and I said to simhanada "QUICK let's move down GO GO GO!!!" and I ended up getting to sit right opposite George for the rest of the night, so so so so cool!
Today George talked about the HBO series, he said he wanted to show us photos that he'd taken when he was on set for some filming, but HBO wouldn't let him because it showed the actors in costume (oh my! like we can't imagine what they're going to look like!) and bits of set in the background. So instead he just talked generally about the bringing his books to the screen, thought I don't think there was particularly anything that I didn't know.
I did my best for Jake to get him into the show, at dinner last night I told him in front of George that I could see him as a knight!! HINT HINT GEORGE!!! It's true though - Jake could definitely pass for one of Renly's knights of summer. Oh, and also last night, I was very impressed that George himself brought up that very taboo subject of which we must not speak, and again today in his panel he mentioned it, so I think finishing the series is very much foremost in his mind, even though sometimes it might appear that he's not focussed on it.
So I got my ASoIaF calendar first thing this morning - after hearing last night that they were just about sold out, I was very relieved. George is doing a signing tomorrow after his reading - I'm thinking Valar Dohaerys will look good on the cover.
Nice to see you, too! And definitely. BTW, here's the fruits of my labors that evening.
I was mondo lucky and got invited to a dinner party where GRRM was guest of honor. Unfortunately, I was mostly brain dead and didn't ask anything interesting. But HBO-series wise, he is going to be writing one script per season. They are going to attempt one book per season (although GRRM posited that when they hit SoS, it'll have to be split over two seasons). He said that the number of episodes per series isn't necessarily set in stone, so they might be stretching out to 12 episodes later on. I also asked him if having the series dramatized was going to affect how he envisions the characters and he said that was a good question. He thought about it for a second, and then said that there's one actress (they're currently in negotiations with, so he couldn't mention the character or the actress's names) who doesn't look anything like the character she auditioned for, but she's so damn good that they want her, and if she does get cast, it's definitely going to have an effect on the how the character gets written in the book.
The only other thing I remember (and it's of no interest to anyone, I just thought it was funny) was that I was burbling on about NTLive and Alan Bennett's The Habit of Art, and GRRM said that they'd tried to get Richard Griffiths for Game of Thrones, but it fell through. I was just joking and said, "Who'd you get instead--Ian McNeice?" and he laughed and said, "Yes, actually."
[Note: This remark expands slightly on this report from the same event.]
He did say "I have this (after he read the prologue) and about 1400 other pages".
GRRM read the ADWD prologue. He fielded the typical questions: Jon Snow's parent's etc. He could not announce casting news or "HBO would kill him" and since he is sans net here in SD, did not know the news about about Gregor's casting. He has "1400" finished ADWD pages, hasn't begun on the 4th Dunk & Egg short story and had to review all the casting videos for Shae "many times".
I live in Phoenix and I just got back from a Dance With Dragons reading and a brief question and answer period with George at Leprecon in Mesa, Arizona. George was simply fabulous. I make it a point not to read any Dance sample chapters that he posts. I want to read the entire book in its entirety for the first time. I decided to break my rule however, when I saw that George was doing a reading in my neighborhood.
It was a Bran chapter and man was it good to get lost back in Westeros if only for a few moments. George later told me that he thinks he has read this chapter once before but he didn't seem sure... George had me spell-bound. I did notice that he seemed to stop a time or two to correct something with a black pen. Proof reading has got to be the bane of all authors.
This reading was easily the treat of my month. A very special moment for a long-time fan. Thanks George. You rock.
After, GRRM was nice enough to hold a Q&A period. He has another one scheduled for tomorrow. I'll try to get there, but my kid has a football game that I can't miss if there is a time conflict. Among the things he spoke about concerning Dance were that while March was a great month, things have slowed down a bit lately, but his writing continues. Over 1300 pages so the end is inevitably closer.
As mentioned before, one of his Sansa chapters for WoW is written already. Similarly he added that there is also an Arya chapter written for WoW (not sure if this is news or not).
Regarding the HBO series, George mentioned that casting calls are currently going on in New York, LA, London, Dublin and Australia. When asked about how writing for TV has changed since his last television efforts, he mantioned that one of the things he struggled with on episode 8 was getting used to a computer program called Final Draft that is apparantly an industry standard. One of the funnier moments was when someone asked him about character cuts. He said that numerous smaller characters would either be cut completely or possibly physically referenced in the background without lines. He listed the Nightswatch as examples. Jon and Sam would be the largest roles. Then possibly Grenn and Pyp might have a few lines. Toad, Rast and others may or may not have small lines after that. Finally he mentioned that Desmond (Guardsman at Winterfell) has been cut. He that said "So those Desmond fans out there are fucked".
Now for the big scoop (at least imo). I asked him to please give us some insight as to wether Syrio Forel is alive or dead. He chuckled and said that Syrio was alive in the series at least because he had written some scenes for him in episode 8!!!!!! Whew! That puts alot of doubt to rest in my mind!
So there you have it. I hope some of this helps. One last thing. George was nice enough to take a picture with me. I showed my eight year old daughter who asked me "Who is that?" I told her "George R R Martin". She didn't miss a beat when she replied "is not your bitch!" I guess sometimes I sing too loud in the shower!
Just got back from dinner. Had a great time. Being able to talk to two published authors (Wild Card author Mary Anne Mohanraj also joined us) was rather spellbinding. They had some great publishing stories and we talked alot about other books and authors we all liked. So there wasn't too much ASoIaF talk.
However, GRRM did talk a little bit more about ep. 8 which he is writing. He really wouldn't get nailed down about where the episode ends but he did say it would also involve the NW finding Otho and Jafer Flowers and the Dothraki and the Lamb Men. So pretty cool!
One thing I found interesting that she didn't mention was GRRM's response to a question about how he keeps all the details straight as he writes more books.
GRRM responded that this was one of the things that was making Dance take so long, namely having to go back and check a bunch of details. He said that without search functions in documents he would have gone mad.
He gave a very funny rant about eye color - about how in the real world, we really notice anyone's eye color unless we're very close to them, but in books, everyone has their eye color described. Having to go back and check the eye color he gave for hundreds of characters was an example of a detail that could drive him batty; GRRM said he regretted mentioning the eye color of any of his characters. He also noted that as a brown-eyed person, he finds it annoying that brown-eyed characters are always portrayed as ordinary, while the doers of great deeds always have blue or hazel eyes or something - he notes that he himself was somewhat guilty of this with the violet eyes of Dany or the red eyes of Melisandre.
He said that in all seriousness, what was most important in rereading prior books to make sure he got the continuity right was speech patterns - each of his hundreds of characters has a distinct way of talking that he wants to make sure he is faithful to.
Another interesting thing he mentioned: he mentioned the coming of age of Arya in Braavos in the context of how a writer had to discipline himself to write only as many chapters as were necessary to serve the story, saying that what Arya was dealing with in Braavos could make a worthy young adult novel in its own right.
Another tidbit I liked (this I think from Friday night): that while Tyrion was his favorite character and the most like himself, and for those reasons perhaps the easiest for him to write, these chapters have been harder in Dance because of the dark turn Tyrion's story has taken.
He talked about how in typical fantasy, a magician will throw lightning bolts and kill thousands of men, but in 'real' medieval times, more men died of disease than on the battlefield, due to the unsanitary conditions involved in keeping together a large army - to me, there was a hint that we may see some of this effect of disease in Dance.
In talking about his progress writing Dance, he mentioned that he is now writing the epilogue - this doesn't mean that he's finishing up; he was clear that he was writing this part out of order. As we've heard before, the he said that resolution of the Meereenese knot was the major thing left to complete in Dance.
In response to a question about whether it was hard to kill a character, he said that it always was, even if the character was an evil bastard. He said that the Red Wedding was the hardest thing he's ever written, and that he put off doing it until the rest of the book was complete.
The Friday night reading was the lengthy Jon Snow chapter that others have probably read before, but which I had disciplined myself not to view online. Martin does the voices of his characters very well - I liked Sam's squeaky, stuttering falsetto.
Finally, to me the most interesting thing he said publicly all weekend were some comments about the nature of writing and what he tries to do. He said that pure good-and-evil fantasy wasn't interesting to him; while Tolkien had done Sauron masterfully, he'd had a lot of bad imitators doing 'dark lord' villains. He noted that to him the most interesting characters in Lord of the Rings were the more flawed heroes, folks like Boromir and Denethor.
He made the point rather dramatically by saying that all fiction could be lumped into two types: Good guy punches bad guy in the nose, or the human heart struggles against itself. He said he was really only interested in writing the second kind of fiction.
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