The Citadel: SSM

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Reports from Signings, Conventions, Etc

Corte Ingles signing

This is about the session at Corte Ingles in Lisbon on July 1st 2008. Moderator was Safaa Dib, and the topic was A Song of Ice and Fire followed by a signing session, and along with a pre-release of the portuguese translation of the first half of A Storm of Swords ( I think.)

Room was filled, it was standing room only before the beginning of the session, perhaps some 200 people in all, I was impressed by how diverse, ages, gender the audience was.

First thing is, the book is not finished. Probably another 6 months, the hope is by the end of the year, so it comes out sometime in 2009.

GRRM was asked the typical question, of where the idea for ASOIAF had come from. He replied that in the summer of 1991, when he was working as a Hollywood screenwriter, in a gap between assignments he began work on a new novel, a sf novel called Avalon ( personal note, no I would not swap it for ASOIAF, but I would have loved to have read it), set in his future history universe. And somehow, he found himself writing the first chapter of AGOT, about the direwolf pups un the snow. And after that came a second chapter and pretty soon he spent the whole summer writing AGOT.

From there he started to plan a trilogy, since there were 3 main conflicts ( Starks/Lannisters; Dany; and the Others) it felt it would neatly fit into a trilogy (ah!), but like Tolkien said, the tale grew in the telling. He ended up putting the project aside after being asked to write a tv pilot, he had about a 100 pages written of both Avalon and AGOT. With his projects he has a problem that when somethings goes cold he can not pick it up again. Avalon has gone cold, but with a ASOIAF it has never happened, he kept thinking about it. Some time after, driving through Britanny once he was thinking of Tyrion and what would he think or do, despite having been years since he wrote about Tyrion and being a couple years till he wrote again about him. He summarized it all in that he has no idea where the idea for ASOIAF did come from.

Another question was about the sucess of ASOIAF and if he ever expected it. He said he hoped but not expected sucess and that Armageddon Rag was supposed to be his breakout novel but it tanked instead. It got great reviews but nobody bought it. So he is always anxious when a book comes out. And sucess for ASOIAF was slow, it only picked momentum when the 2nd book came out in hardcover and AGOT was released in paperback, around 1997/1998. The Legends anthology did a lot to help popularize ASOIAF, he hears frequently from fans that they bought the anthology to read the story of this or that other author, but ended up loving Dunk´s story and from there finding out about ASOIAF.

On being asked if he feels comfortable getting called the American Tolkien, GRRM considers it a great compliment, since he loved Tolkien when he was a kid, that his were some of the books he never wanted to end reading. But he is very different from Tolkien and writes very different type of books. The moderator somehow blurts out sex, general laughter, GRRM´s replies he does not know where little hobbits come from. But that he thinks Tolkien has darkness,that the end of TLOTR is crucial, the Scouring of the Shire, that the Tolkien immitators always end with triumph but never cover the cost of triumph.

From then the questions moved to historical fiction, there being similarities between ASOIAF and the War of the Roses, if he had ever thought about building a story about them. GRRM replied he liked historical fiction very much, mentioned Cornwell and Pressfield as infusing history with the tropes of fantasy ( I think) but that his problem with history is that he knows too much history, that he can not read about the war of the roses without knowing who won the battle of Bosworth Field. With history, a lot of readers will know who wins and what happens and he likes to readers to not know what is going to happen (ah!!)

He used an interesting analogy to his use of magic in fantasy fiction, he compared it to, on a college dormitory take out, him being used to plain style New Jersey pizzas, first trying anchovies in a garbage pizza (that was the expression used, really). He loved those anchovies, but when he next ordered an anchovy pizza he thought it was awfull, overwhelming. Magic and fantasy can be like anchovy in pizza, too much unbalanced can ruin everything . Tolkien did it right, on his opinion, that his magic is often knowledge and the sense of magic is very low key, that we are often not sure, are the fireworks real magic or just fireworks? Magic should be mysterious, unnatural. In a Song of Ice and Fire (or ADWD) we have two sources of magic descending on Westeros from opposing directions.

He mentioned he created history and dynasties as he goes along and that it was Tolkien which created the truly serious worldbuilding expect in fantasy. Before Tolkien a lot of fantasy writers did not bother, Robert E Howard had perhaps the name of 3 kings, Lord Dunsany did even less ( paraphrasing "there was a king who had a daughter"). But with Tolkien it was like an iceberg, 3/4 are under the waterline. All other authors ("us") are just pretending, ice on a raft floating giving the impression it is an iceberg. Some fans get furious at that admission. Once a fan wrote asking him for word lists in high valyrian so the fan could start to work out learning the language on his own. GRRM says he knows 8 words of high valyrian, and when he needs a 9th, he will just make it up. ( despite this very funny impressive anecdote which was very well received, in the question session, yes somebody started to make complicated questions about language).

Another classical question, on what writers had an influence on him. GRRM replied the authors he read and enjoyed when he was young, Lovecraft, Robert E Howard, Heinlein was his favorite sf author, Zelazny, Jack Vance. Apropos of Jack Vance, GRRM mentioned he is editing an anthology, where 20 top fantastic writers are writing each a Dying Earth story ( or so I understood it. Dont quote me if it contradicts other reports). He mentioned also other non genre authors, Goldmann, F Scott Fitzgerald, Lawrence Block, McDonald, Raymond Chandler.

When asked what he considered to be his greatest strength as an author, he replied characters, that he thought characters to be the most important part of any story. And on what was his favorite PoV characters, he likes all of them, that it is important to consider that a hero is a villain from the other side, that Theon, Cersei and Jaime all think they are doing the right thing. perhaps Tyrion is his favorite character, his chapters are the easiest to write and he is the most like GRRM himself. He can think of no good definition of good and evil and that struggle to define it is a common theme in his work. That is one difference between him and Tolkien, that there is nothing redeeming in a orc or Sauron. It´s fine in Tolkien, but it´s a problem on his less subtle immitators.

On if no character ever being safe if it was part of a writing strategy , he said he he tries to write with honesty about war, it´s not about who is going to win a soccer match ( personal note - well, there actually have been real wars about that. And he probably has not hear of a *few* matches I can think of. And the Maracanazo probably caused deeper social trauma than any brazillian border war of the 20th century. sorry, can´t help myself) and that death and grief can happen to all characters not just extras. He brought up a anecdocte about the tv show Beauty and Beast and network concerns ( network speak violence is bad, action is the euphemism for it). The series lasted 3 years, at the end of series 2, the main character (the beauty, Catherine) was killed because Linda Hamilton, the actress wanted to leave. The writers, against the network´s opinion ("get on with it, don´t mention the name again"), had some episodes written which dealt with the grief of remaining characters. The ratings plummeted - so while they made the right artistic decision, commercially they had failed. GRRM thinks authors can not worry about commercial sucess when writing.

The moderator praised ASOS has being his masterpiece, he said with the proviso that AFFC was not a complete book but half of a whole he agreed "so far". When she asked if If the pressure of being considered the "best fantasy writer" ( there were probably a couple adjective there like american or living) affected his work, he says he does not enjoy the pressure but is still enjoying the writing. Most days, some days don´t go well!

About the famous 5 year gap and the delay of ADWD he sais the problem was precisely the idea of the 5 year gap, which would give the kids time to grow old. he spent over a year writing the book that way, but ended up writing endless flashback scenes so he had to scrape that.

If he knows how the series will end, yes, he does in broad strokes, compared it to a drive from Lisbon to Moscow, you know where you are going, but not seeing all the steps of the way.

There was some talk also of HBO optioning AGOT, that two scripts have been written and the BBC is now a partner and budgets are being drawn ( if that is the word). Possible locations mentioned were Ireland, the Czech Republic and New Zealand, but of course they are looking at any possible cheaper options. He thinks a pilot might get filmed. After that a possibility is maybe that each book will be a season, 12 hours but is not really sure if ASOS would fit that.

Then GRRM himself very kindly asked if fans wanted to make some questions. And yes, somebody did ask if Ned was really killed ( to be fair, only AGOT and ACOK have been translated into portuguese yet, so I am sure lots still had some hopes for Ned to do a Gandalf act by the end of ACOK).

When the manuscript for ADWD is finished it will be rushed over in 3 months, which is amazingly fast for the book industry.

He does find hard to keep track of all characters and keeps flipping back and forth through his notes to find out the color of this character´s eyes or the name of this cousin. Elio and Linda are great help, so sometimes he writes to them asking them this or that. He is very good at changing the sex of horses between books, he calls those his transexual horses.

An interesting comment about the focus and pace of LOTR and ASOIAF. TLOTR starts slow and very focused, on a small part of a very large world, with things unfolding and the world getting bigger. He wanted to do something like that in ASOIAF, starting with a very tight focus on Winterfell drawing bigger and broader. The action is now at its broadest point, and it´s going to start narrowing again.

We were read a prologue chapter for ADWD. The reading was very good, somewhat spoiled by some noise with the audience, I think something to do with the selling of those pre-release translations of part of ASOS. I did not get any notes on that, just enjoyed it.

And that is about it. Any misquotings or misinterpretation (nevermind missspellings and assassinations of grammar) are all my own, for which I apologize.

Odyssey Con 2008 (Madison, WI; April 4-6 2008)

The first, on friday night, was discussing POV's. It was intending to be a panel on managing multiple POV's but it became more of a discussion of character building and how the writer relates to his characters. Nothing we haven't really heard before. Still its a priviladge to hear a writer of George's calibre talk about aspects of his art at length. The panel was well moderated and there were a couple of other pros on it, though not names I knew that also had quite a bit interesting to contribute. Couple of highlights from GRRM's comments: 1. He strongly prefers limited 3rd person point of view as compared with first person or omnicient 3rd person. Probably obvious to any read of ASoIaF. Still, this is a artistic preference that he strongly feels and not just something that he finds works well in his current project. 2. He tends to write from a single POV a couple chapters at a time to stay with the same voice. Switch POV's can cost him a couple of days of writing to be able to get back into the voice of the person who's viewpoint he is writing from. He goes back and rereads the last couple of chapter's he's written from that POV to help him. 3. Writing the the kids is the hardest. Not new information. He clarrified why that is though. He finds he has to check every sentences to make sure its something a child would think or so and to check every word to make sure it is one a child would know. Because he doesn't have children nor has many children in his life he doesn't have a model to work from expect his own childhood which makes it far more a stretch.

The second panel, on Saturday morning, was on writing for TV compared with writing novels. While there were other panelists most of it became George and the moderator (Jim Frenkel, senior editor for Tor) sharing stories and complaining about the the world of TV from the writer's perspective. Its lucritive but apparently a real pain in the arse.

A couple of notes, though nothing big from the Q&A seccion following the reading: 1. He's hoping to have ADwD done by June. He seemed reasonably confident that this could be done. He said though, that if he can't get it done but sometime that month that it would be delayed quite a bit more. He has a busy summer coming up after that which will not allow him time to work. So if its done by June, we should see the book by christmas if not earlier. If not then its going to be a while. 2. He still really thinks he can get it done in 7 total books though there did seem to be a bit more doubt on that lingering behind his words. That was my impression though, not anything that George actually said. He is commited to the 7 book idea at the moment. 3. The HBO show is still in limbo. Which we already knew.

That was about it for noteworthy material. Any panel George is on though is enjoyable and worth attending.

Odyssey Con 2008 (Madison, WI; April 4-6 2008)

[Note: The following report is excerpted from a LiveJournal post by author E. E. Knight, with his permission. It should be emphasized that this is a rough transcript, and features paraphrases throughout rather than being word-for-word.]

Okay, here's my write up of the Martin panel on characterization. Well, it was about a lot of stuff but mostly characters and points of view.

Please, keep in mind that this is a rough transcript. The description of what was said is as accurate as I could make them typing on my laptop but I had to paraphrase here and there, therefore I'm not using any quotation marks. I'm sure I made errors. So don't write George R.R. Martin and say that you don't understand what he said or you think he screwed the pooch with his Gandalf observation unless you were actually there, m'kay? All errors of style are mine.

The panelists were:

Monica Valentinelli (moderator) (MV) free-lance writer of games and fiction
Sean T. M. Stiennon - (SS) college student, some short fiction and an anthology
Richard Chwedyk - (RC) Nebula winner, short story writer
George R.R. Martin (GRRM)

What sorts of characters do you like to write?

GRRM: I like to write many different kinds of characters - part of the reason my books have multiple viewpoints - people perceive differently. Different POVs allow you to explore all the varieties of humanity - people you can love, loathe, or have mixed feelings about. The goal is to let you understand the characters even if you find them reprehensible.

Do you prefer some over the others?

GRRM: I like all of them when I’m writing them.

I don’t believe in omniscient viewpoints. It gets in the way of understanding the character. The reader must see the world as the character would experience it as they’re living events. The 3rd limited allows closer identification and deeper understanding of how the character sees the world. Once you get inside them the common humanity makes you sympathetic with them.

Did you hate any?

GRRM -The act of writing them makes you like or understand them.

RC (or possibly MV)- Characterization is kind of like method acting, do everything you can to get in the role of the character.

Any way to get into the mood to write?

GRRM - I wish I had something entertaining to describe, but it’s just me in front of the computer, no strange creative rituals.

Different character creation for gaming and fiction?

GRRM - Told a story about a superhero turtle, with many hindrances to improve his armor. Recreated him for Wildcards fiction to make it more interesting.

MV: Challenging in writing game fiction is that I had to imitate powers and game mechanics exactly. Book packagers were demanding that she adhere to game mechanics right down to time spent concentrating and so forth.

GRRM: You can’t just take your games and make fiction of them. Today the most common story sent in to sf/fantasy genre editors is someone who has written up their RPG - often starts with meeting in a tavern. Start a story in a tavern and it’s coming right back to you.

RC: I’ve read some of those manuscripts.

SS: Characters have to be beyond a list of traits, they need personality.

GRRM: Would like to write about leper king of Jerusalem - has a lot of empathy for his problems and it’s a fascinating exercise to try to get into his mind. Creation of a character who is not like yourself is very difficult. You have to be able to project yourself into these different kinds of people.

How do the tropes influence your writing?

GRRM: You have to be aware of them but you have to smash them with hammers and make up your own. Tolkien twisted an old cliché of elves (tiny faeries) into something else - met with resistance from his editors at first, arguing over what an elf or dwarf is. Now Tolkien is the cliché. Can’t just regurgitate them you have to do something with them.

RC: Games are open ended - with certain characters I know the ending. There’s a gravestone waiting - there’s a dramatic structure to a story. You’re focusing on a very crucial moment in a characters life and you know the outcome.

MV: Purpose of a game character is to make it playable. In fiction the point is to make it readable and interesting as possible. When I write I don’t know how they’ll play off everyone else.

GRRM: How you experience life is unique to you, and it should be unique to each character. You have to somehow get from inside your body and into theirs - we all see life through one set of eyes, none of us are telepaths, we all have internal monologues - at the same time we’re experiencing the world.

Use of POV has to be structured, has to be under control. Have a reason for switching POVs. The big problem is when you’re switching promiscuously is it’s not clear.

MV: A common pitfall of new authors is to try to do too many POVs.

RC: 3rd person omniscient is annoying to read. It’s tough.

Character creation process?

GRRM: Hopefully you know the general shape of your story. Writers generally come in two flavors: architechts and gardeners - gardeners plant a seed which is the character and in the earth which is the world you created and you water it with your blood.

Is it hard to write when a character dies?

GRRM: It can be tough. Hardest chapter I ever wrote was the death of a character - had to skip over it for a long time. Part of the process is emotional - something like grief, because you’re dealing with the grief of the characters who knew the person, also the commercial consequences, what will editor and readers think of this. But it’s good to kill someone off now and then. Tolkien made the wrong choice when he brought Gandalf back. Screw Gandalf. He had a great death and the characters should have had to go on without him.

RC: Death has a strong effect, writing a death’s been murder. Opening scenes leading up to death have been incredibly difficult to write.

GRRM: My books deal with death, but I do try and deal with mourning and grief. There’s a moral component to people who kill.

Horror stories in the 19th century were morality plays, showing how a flaw in a character brings about a tragic downfall. Innocent characters being killed by the horror is a more modern version - we have rules. "The Grudge" doesn’t obey any rules as to the guilt or innocence of who it kills.

RC: SF is a way of looking at the world that isn’t tied to a story or genre structure. There aren’t demands on characters short of space opera.

Favorite character?

GRRM : Tyrion in Ice and Fire. Abner Marsh in Fevre Dream.

Glad to hear you pronounce the names

GRRM: In my youth I had a strong NJ accent, only reader in family, knew a lot of words that I had never heard spoken aloud. When I went away to college I found I was pronouncing a lot of these words wrong. I came to not care much about pronunciation. Pronounce the names of my characters however you like.

There are dangers in being a gardener, the story can run away from you - Shakespeare had to kill Mercutio because he was taking over play.

RC: Has a character who thinks of herself as a background character in revolt against being a background character.

How important is religion and myth in your stories?

GRRM: Mythos is important and it can also be very difficult. An author’s beliefs color the character, audience’s beliefs color it. Easier for me to write a secular character or someone who mocks and insults the gods than it is to write a sincerely devout character. It’s a secular society, especially our sf/fantasy readers.

How do you keep dialogue distinct in different points of view - how do you bring personality through dialogue?

GRRM: What appears between quotation marks is what was said. But you don’t have to quote everything a person says. You can paraphrase, or use someone’s perception to illustrate their character. Can present dialogue as stream of consciousness.

RC: Make sure the voices are distinct and what they’re saying is important enough you don’t want to paraphrase it. Try and strengthen dialog with each draft.

Technicon 25 (Blackburg, VA; March 28-30, 2008)

[Note: The following refers to remarks from the previous Technicon report, that GRRM stated only a page was left to be completed in the third Dunk & Egg story.

I thought that he said he needed about two days to finish the story.

Technicon 25 (Blackburg, VA; March 28-30, 2008)

I would like to share one comment GRRM made about the release date of ADWD. It is still incomplete, however, he added the caveat that if he completes the book by June the current release dates on Amazon are accurate. He seemed much more up beat about the book than when he appeared at Trinoc Con back in August. I'm now cautiously optimistic that we will see ADWD by September/October.

GRRM also said he believes he's a page away from completeing the third Dunk and Egg story. It is still to be published with the anthology Warriors.

GRRM at his panel on "Anti-Protagonists" made the comment that Jon would soon become a much greyer character than we had seen in the past.

World Fantasy Con (Saratoga, NY; November 1-4 2007)

George threw me under the fangirl bus last night.

See, we all somehow got seated so that GRRM and I were back-to-back with Tim Powers and his wife, and I had mentioned to Lugalirra just how much I love Powers' books. George asked if I had actually told Powers this, and when I answered "No, I don't like to harass writers at Cons because they're probably mobbed at all hours" he said "nonsense!" and turned around, thumped Powers on the back, and said "She loves your books! (turns to me) Tell him how much you like his books!!"

And so Mr. X and I got incredibly dorky and fannish with Tim Powers, and discussed his work teaching at a high school for the arts. He's incredibly friendly and very gracious, despite being accosted in the waning moments of his dinner.

Other notable con guests who rolled on by the BwB party: Scott Bakker. I'm not sure he remembers it all that well -- all 8 feet of him was listing dangerously due to a fair run on the beer downstairs. Hal Duncan stopped by for an hour or so, too, as did a bunch of other people I'm forgetting. I did not bartend much last night (big props to Yags, Mr. X and Alchemist) and spent it wandering the party and the rest of the hotel.

World Fantasy Con (Saratoga, NY; November 1-4 2007)

George read a revised version of the prologue. I'm not going to post anything here (spoilers, etc), but I thought it was pretty good. The ending is a total kicker (as all prologue endings should be). He also answered some questions regarding warging (the term only applies to those who can communicate with wolves/dogs), the HBO series (no greenlight yet, and it's in vague competition with a King Arthur-themed series), and Wild Cards (the January release is the first of a 3-book series, and there is the possibility that if this series does well, all the rest of the Wild Cards series will be put back into print).

I've just fled from a panel on HP Lovecraft. As much as I fangirl Tim Powers, I was just not ready to spend an hour listening to people talk about Lovecraft's rejection/subversion of the supernatural. Especially since I STILL have to finish this damned article for work. Which is what I'm about to do right now.

Trinoc*Con 8 (Durham, NC; August 3-5, 2007)

At Trinoc GRRM confirmed he has several publishers interested in the 3rd Dunk and Egg story he just hasn't settled "on the best venue" yet. He also said that D & E will be collected into a book and that all of the stories he has planned will not fit into one volume.

Trinoc*Con 8 (Durham, NC; August 3-5, 2007)

Another interesting thing from the con, at one point in a panel GRRM was commenting that he didn't like how in a lot of fantasy stories various races are all defined by a single personality (i.e. all orcs are evil, all elves are wise, etc), whereas it would be more realistic for various individuals within a race to have different personalities, viewpoints, etc. Some quick-witted audience member asked him how that idea applied to the Others in his own books, to which he replied, "I'm not gonna answer that." Food for thought.

Trinoc*Con 8 (Durham, NC; August 3-5, 2007)

Nobody as relayed this-but the question about this did come up with GRRM at the last con. And his answer was-basically... forget about it. For now there is nothing happening and he said that HBO could loose their option (let it run out). They are still waiting for an initial script and that would probably be rejected, a new one resubmitted, etc. It sounded to me like the option was probably going to expire with nothing happening - but that is just my take on what he said when the question was asked during the reading as well as later.

Trinoc*Con 8 (Durham, NC; August 3-5, 2007)

Oh, George said all the Stark children of this generation were full Wargs. I thought they were like one shot Wargs and were only bonded to their wolves but no they can warg into just about anything. Bran is just the only one working on it.

Trinoc*Con 8 (Durham, NC; August 3-5, 2007)

We did talk quite a bit of football...

I believe that he said that he felt that the Jets would do better than the Giants this year (i hope i didn't get that backwards)...He's very knowledgeable about football. I lament the fact that i had other duties at that particular time.

As far as fans of Oberyn (of which I'm the biggest, of course), I was talking to him about how much I liked the character even though we only got to spend a short amount of time with him and that the mountain killing him was my throw the book across the room moment. He then asked me how much I liked his daughters. I answered that I liked them quite a bit and that the Martells are my favorite family in Westeros. He commented that I should be very pleased with some of the coming events then.

Trinoc*Con 8 (Durham, NC; August 3-5, 2007)

I'll post more details and stuff later. It was really great meeting everyone. we had 19 people at dinner, and when we invided George to party with us in our rooms, he countered with inviting us up to his suite. He made sure he talked to most people up there at least a little. It was great being able to be that personal with him. an all around awesome experience.

...

Most of us were not pre-registered, but that wasn't a problem. Registration was opened pretty late too. As far as I know, it went rather smoothly for most of us.

The biggest problems were of course with the schedule. As noted earlier, it wasn't until nearly the last 2 weeks that a schedule was even posted online and only a day or so before that the program had been posted. Of course the schedule that was posted was drastically different from the schedule given to us at the con. Eventually we got it figured out. The only real problem after that was with George's reading. The "Reading Room" had a capacity of 25. stunned.gif of course 3 times this number wanted to hear George. More then a few missed the reading because of this. Plus points to the con though, they very quickly realized the problem and moved us down to the large room where the meet and greet was held and moved those 6 people up to the reading room. Any of those that had stuck around trying to stand in the back or hear from the doorway were now all able to sit and listen to the reading.

Immediately after the reading, SSE and I talked to George and made dinner plans. The hotel staff was great in helping us out, letting us know of a good local place and such.

I don't think many of us spent much time in the con hospatality suite as mine and LP's rooms served for most of the BwB, but I did stop down there Sunday morning to give them our left over sodas. It seemed nice and well stocked and the people were very friendly and inviting.

All in all, the con was a great experience with very minor problems once it got going.

InConJunction (Indianapolis, IN; July 6-8)

DWD is not done. George believes writing is an art and he has to find the right words and the right structure and that takes time and some re-writes. He still hopes for seven books.

He may write other stories in the IAF world that take places 100's of years before or 100's of years after.

He is a student of popular history and likes the story aspect of them. But he does like the sensation of not knowing what is going to happen next.

His experience in television influences the way IAF is written through act breaks that hook the readers.

Wildcards too was a training ground for ASOIAF. IAF is a Wildcards mosaic novel with George telling all the parts.

About the HBO series. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are writing the screenplay. They have written the first draft of the pilot and have sent it to HBO for revision. There will be twelve hours worth of shows and George will write one hour. As for it all actually happening, George has not yet "bought the couch" meaning it is definitely not set in stone.

There are plans for nine D+E stories covering their whole life.

The concept of heroes and villains is a false dichotomy, in George's opinion. Real human beings are a mixture of good and evil.

All the characters are in danger.

There will be no gods on stage in the books and the reader will have to decide whether there are gods or not.

Once the books are done, we will have such a detailed description of Robert's Rebellion that a prequel will not be necessary or at least have little suspense.

The challenge with IAF is that he has to publish each book as it is written so he doesn't get to go back and edit earlier volumes like he would if had won the lottery.

I asked Ran's question about the King of Mountain and Vale [how they came to fall under the rule of the Targaryens] and George told me to keep reading for that one.

Opus Fantasy Festival (Denver, CO; May 25-27)

The Con was O.K.. I enjoyed sitting and listening to Mr. Martin talk for a couple of hours. I felt sorry for him. Like he was a goldfish ina bowl up there on at a table alone. oh well, I think his voice is strangely interesting to listen to. He has some good stories, and is very intelligent.

As far as notes go, I only wrote down a few things:

Every time the HBO thing was brought up he stressed the fact that there are a thousand things that could derail the train before it hits the station. Long and short of it is not to expect anything for at least 2 years.

George is doing an appearance on "Second Life". A virtual reading where he appears as Tyrion. That sounds interesting, except I have worked very hard not to spoil myself on the next book before it is out. If he is reading a new chapter then I don't want to hear it.

One small note, that I am sure he has done before, is that he made sure to add the "I hope" line after saying that he will finish Song of Ice and Fire in 7 books. Not that that says anything.