The Citadel: SSM

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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.

Comic-Con (New York City, NY; February 23-25)

[Note: The following is a response from Parris, George's partner, regarding the Comic-Con reports which seemed to believe the pilot was greenlit.]

I hate to have to tell you this, but the reports coming out of ComicCon that the pilot for HBO's GEORGE RR MARTIN'S 'A SONG OF ICE & FIRE: A GAME OF THRONES' will be filmed in the summer of 2007 are wildly optimistic.

Here's the current status of HBO GRRMs' ASoI&F:AGOT as far as we know today, Februrary 27th, 2007.

The writers/producers, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, are, as all writers who are WGA members must, waiting for the formal contracts, deals, and options to be completed. Then they'll begin work on the first major draft of the pilot script.

Once that first draft is finished, they'll submit it to HBO and then, sometime, maybe in a week, maybe in a month, they'll get Notes.

Then they'll do a second draft, and repeat the process until HBO is satisified and gives them the green light to start pre-production.

So let me clarify for everyone, that there is not much of a possibility that we'll see even the beginning of pre-production this summer.

David Benioff and his wife, Amanda Peet, just celebrated the birth of their first child, born on Feb 20th.

I'd also like to correct an earlier post about WILD CARDS - Melinda Snodgrass has developed an independent new script based in the Wild Cards universe. But it is not for a televison series.

Comic-Con (New York City, NY; February 23-25)

My first stop was the George R. R. Martin session. He began things by stating the rules: no asking who dies, what happens at the end, and when the next book is coming out. He announced that they're re-releasing his book The Armageddon Rag (the book that "nearly ended" his career and sent him to exile in Hollywood). He also announced that Tor will be releasing three new Wildcards books. And, of course, he announced (for anyone who didn't already know it) the deal with HBO to do a set of Song of Ice and Fire miniseries. The one difference in this announcement is that while the original stories that came out indicated that the miniseries would be produced for sometime next decade to coincide with the ending of the heptology, Martin today indicated that the producers were working on a pilot episode now with the intent that HBO would pick it up and start on season one next year. He is very, very happy about the HBO deal, btw, gushing over the quality of television that HBO is producing and saying this was really the only good choice for getting Song produced in the visual media.

Some other bits of info from Q&A: In Song, he considers Bran the hardest viewpoint character to write, while Tyrion is the easiest. The Red Wedding was partly based on a historical event in Scotland called the Black Dinner. His biggest lament in splitting A Feast for Crows from A Dance with Dragons is the parallels he was drawing between Circe and Daenerys. He credits the creative success on Wildcards to the system that they put in place, making all authors sign an agreement at the outset and establishing a point system that gave creators extra distribution of profits for use of their characters in the works of other authors (thus encouraging them to let others play with their creations, making the shared universe cohesive).

Comic-Con (New York City, NY; February 23-25)

On the shooting of a pilot it did seem like it was definate that they would do one but I don't remember him ever specifying "quot;this summer"quot;. He also said he was happy that it was HBO because of the odds of it happening. GRRM said if HBO "quot;develop"quot; 5 shows 3 will be used.

Also, as I said in the "quot;New POV"quot; thread, GRRM kept referring to the new POV as "quot;He"quot;. As in "quot;He will be the last new POV"quot;.

Comic-Con (New York City, NY; February 23-25)

[Note: Thanks to Relic for bringing this to our attention, and to Stag Lord/Chris for providing additional details.]

Some notes form the George RR Martin signing and Q&A that I thought would be of general interest to the community:

A: I was able to distribute every single promo card, play mat/poster and demo deck/rules set within about twenty minutes of my arrival. People seemed genuinely impressed by the art and happy to have cards like Ilyn Payne, Jon Snow, Ghost, and Harrenhall. I was even asked by tow people for demo decks after I had given them all out. It was very encouraging but whether or not it will bear fruit in terms of the local play group remains to be seen.

B. One of the questions Martin fielded was about whether or not he was happy with the ancillary art surrounding AsoIaF. He said that although he wasn’t crazy about the response time of some artists on the comic books, he was thrilled with the job FFG is doing. He talked about how he is aware that "people love the card game and the board game" and the most frustrating thing for him has been with other licensees like Guardians of Order and Testors. He now owns all stocl on the RPG stuff since Guardians bit the dust and he really wants to see the miniatures game get to market -- he seemed annoyed with Testors for how long they are taking. So kudos to FFG -- he was very positive about the work you gushy are doing.

C, He said about the HBO series: Its in development, which means there is nothing like a timetable for when (or if) we will see the series. But he is very optimistic about it getting the go ahead -- they will be shooting the pilot over the summer for submission to and approval by the brass at HBO, and if all goes well there, they will really go into high gear on the series we are all so excited about. He seemed really, really pumped to get going on this adaptation.

D. There will be a new PoV in Dance -- but he isn’t saying who. This will be the last new PoV we get for the series and he expects the current list to be culled down as the story progresses.

E. His dragons have no front limbs -- just rear legs and wings. He said that although the traditional depiction of dragons as six limbed creatures has become a staple of fantasy -- the fact that no animal in nature has ever evolved in such a way always bothered him. As a sci-fi writer originally, he insists on the depiction of the dragons with just four limbs. I never heard that before and though it was pretty neat.. In addition, he said that although AsoIaF dragons are intelligent, they cannot speak and will never evolve into the sort of dragons we see in Tolkien or Le Guin. Specifically he said’ Drogon is never going to share witty aphorisms with Dany. The Targaryens rule by Fire and Blood and that is what the dragons represent in the story". I guess the power icon is more Nedly for them than some of us thought when they were first rolled out back in AfoD.

F. Cersei and Daenerys are intended as parallel characters --each exploring a different approach to how a woman would rule in a male dominated, medieval-inspired fantasy world.

G. He is getting a lot of interest in his Wild Cards series. Specifically I think there are new books coming out and there is a possibility of that being developed for TV as well. He isn’t sure how this is going to fly though in the wake of Heroes -- which apparently is very similar in concept. Either Heroes will open the door for Wild Cards, or it will close it entirely. I’m no really into either -- but I figured a lot of you would be interested in this tidbit.

H. When asked about ideal casting choices, he formally endorsed the idea of Nicole Kidman playing Cersei. He says she has the perfect look for her. But it would never work, because where are you going to find a guy that looks like her to play Jaime? I really got a kick out of that. He also said Ron Perelman would be perfect as the Hound -- but I am pretty sure I had hears or read that somewhere before.

I think that’s all the really important stuff. Somehow I really felt responsible to the CCG community to get back to you guys with some notes form today’s event. If it bores anyone I apologize. However, I urge anyone who gets a chance to go to one of his signings or talks to do so. He is very entertaining and very down to earth. This is the second time I have seen him and would definitely do so again.

...

He didn't talk about budgets at all.

While talking about how HBO is the perfect medium for the series, h e mentioned Rome and Deadwood several times as examples of how HBO is best equipped to get the look, fell and themes of his work in place without having to cut much of anything.

...

Just to follow up and reiterate (because I really don't wnat to start any rumors or get anyones hopes up too much) please make it clear - we are still a long way from seeing anything. HBO will see the pilot and decide where we go from there. Although I did get the impression that this part of the project is moving ahead very quickly - Mr. Martin was very matter of fact about it, and I am just worried I heard what I wnated to hear.

I don't want to get anyone's hopes up too high is all I am saying. I love Mr Martin and I love the community.Please make it clear that alhtough I stand by what I worte - we are still very very far of form seeing anything.

Boskone 44 (Boston, MA; February 16-18)

OK, just to make this an actual Con report, I'll report on the only panel I was able to attend: The Increasing Rift Between Fans and Pros.

On the panel was Steve Miller, one of the Boskone organizers, Gay Haldeman and GRRM. The panel itself turned into a rather pointed criticism of most professional writers (which naturally angered the professional writers in the audience, as I heard a few bitching to each other after the panel), who think rather highly of themselves and sequester themselves from their audience. The panelists did make the concession that a WorldCon is a different beast from other Cons (in that a shitload of business and flesh-pressing with editors/publishers happens at WorldCon, and doesn't leave most authors a lot of time to socialize), but they were all pretty critical of authors who never showed up to the party floor at a smaller Con.

GRRM's quote that stands out: "There are, what, 50 or more professional writers here at this convention, and I only saw a handful of them on the party floor last night."

(for the record, I remember seeing Daniel Abraham and Gay Haldeman and meeting Nick Mamatas -- at least I think I did. I was pretty hungover at that point. There were at least 4 or 5 others I recognized, but I cannot remember their names. Anyone want to help me out? Which writers did y'all see either Friday or Saturday night?)

Boskone 44 (Boston, MA; February 16-18)

I might as well add that it looks like GRRM has a good bit left to write. He is still suggesting that he might add other POVs from aFfC into aDwD but it still depends on how big aDwD will be without these chapters. Since he isn't sure as of now, he clearly has a good few chapters to write. He is currently on the prologue. He is apparently finding it difficult to get right and has made several attempts at it already.

Parris did say that the renovations are done now and they just have to move back in everything. So things are better on that front. She also said that he is anxious to get back into aDwD when they return from Comicon but I know some people will never believe those declarations.

Boskone 44 (Boston, MA; February 16-18)

... When we returned to the room, George was already there, as was Daniel Abraham. They were discussing M. John Harrison and his recent essay on worldbuilding. When asked my opinion, I simply said:

"I think he's a pretentious snot."

Daniel agreed, though he admitted to omitting the "snot" part. George, as per usual, kept his own counsel, though he seemed to enjoy the opinions, and did defend Viriconium a bit. This led into a conversation about Tolkien, of course. I do not know if there is anyone who respects Tolkien more than George, and he made some points that would probably have shut Harrison up, had he been there to hear them. (Though he did not aim them at Harrison, per se.)

Boskone 44 (Boston, MA; February 16-18)

[Note: The question being asked is whether there is anything that fans can do to improve the odds of HBO putting the proposed "A Song of Ice and Fire" series into production.]

For what it's worth, I asked George your question on the Friday night, Ran. He said that at this point it's up to the writers to develop and deliver a great script, and even after that it may just get to the pilot and HBO can still say no. We can just keep being supportive, but there's not really a write-in campaign or anything that we can do to help directly.

US Signing Tour (Chicago, IL)

[Note: The following report comes from Kiran Bellubbi's SmallDoses blog.]

Yesterday Karen and I spent 45 mins listening to George R R Martin talk about his writing philosophy, how he channels his thoughts on a particular story he is writing and what influences his stories from the real world. Both of us were introduced to George R R Martins work by our good friend Amit Rathore - who has read a LOT of fantasy fiction. I was always hessitant to get into reading fantasy sci-fi since I always thought it was too time consuming (gigantic epics all of them) and my friends tended to fixate on characters in these epic books and the character would live on forever and conquer one and then conquer all.

When I started reading the Song of Ice and Fire (which was about a year ago) I was introduced to a new kind of fantasy fiction that George R R Martin gave to the world - one that still holds some roots in reality. The Worlds described by him are alien and unnatural but the characters seem so REAL! Well - anyways - you should really read the books. I guarantee you will enjoy them.

Something interesting that GRRM mentioned in his chat with fans yesterday was that for him Ideas were Easy but words were really difficult. He stated that sometimes he spends upto 3 days on introducing a known character into a room - "How should the walls look?", "who notices him/her first?", "how do the people in the room react?" etc.

Finally, GRRM spoke about a guy he met at a convention who wanted to do "business" with him - he apparently had this "great idea" for a fantasy series and wanted to get GRRM to "write it up" so they could "share the profits".

What do you say when you meet someone with this disease?

LA Con IV (Anaheim, CA; August 23-27)

I was talking with Grogmosh Longspear, Elgereron(sp) the Nightraven and Maltaran before the reading as we were some of the first ones there. We talked about the books and I showed them the questions from the board. Maltaran liked the Davos question and ended up asking it. Coyote's Daughter showed up as well as Fillipa. I met Chataya, Mak and Kalbear.

Then we all went in for the reading once Kevin J. Anderson's crew got out. He commented that he should have brought beer too to get this many people as George outdid him by about 60 or so. George arrived a little late and read Jon 1 after offering us Davos 1 and Tyrion 1. Ran was sitting right next me and raised his hand for Davos 1. I leaned over and said, "Dude, you were the first one to post a summary of that from the hard copy we received."

Question and Answer

I asked why the Targaryens waited so long after the Doom to invade?

GRRM said they were mostly just content on Dragonstone for awhile. Aegon's grandfather and father stayed there. Aegon was the one that chose to invade and conquer Westeros. The Volentenes tried to entice him into a Grand Alliance to conquer Valyria, I think, or all the Valyrian colonies. Conquer the East I'm sure. Aegon was very young when this offer came to him.

Someone asked about he creates novels and he gave his architect and gardener speech. That is covered in detail in the SSM if anyone wants to check it out.

Maltaran asked why Davos smuggled the onions and George said it was for profit. I wasn't sure if this was a joke or not but he said Davos saw a bunch of starving guys who did have some gold and saw an opportunity to make a good profit with some cheap onions.

A person asked if the reader reaction's surprise him. He said some of the reactions to characters surprise him. Sandor is very popular and Theon has some fans too.

Bittersteel was asked about by Chataya. He went over a lot of stuff already covered in the SSM then said that the Golden Company wants or wanted to overthrow the reigning lineage of Targs as they consider them usurpers. Interesting implications for ADWD.

Will the rest of the books have all the characters? Yes, he hopes to have all the characters together in the same book after ADWD. He said he has to kill some off though which garnered laughs.

Anymore art books?

Look for the World of Ice and Fire. And I think it was Linda that was saying we will get to post questions and do some sort of poll as to which get asked of George for the book. That will be done on the board.

Sorry I didn't get to ask more questions but George only called on me once and I won't ask him at parties as he said he doesn't like that so much.

LA Con IV (Anaheim, CA; August 23-27)

The most interesting stuff however, and IMO, was in the Q&A. JT asked George why the Targaryens waited so long to invade Westeros, and he said that mostly they had just been happy to sit on their rock. It was Aegon who had the ambition ... and there had been temptations to go east, rather than west, with various Free Cities trying to lure him to their side on their interminable wars (JT has copious notes, and he'll do a better job -- my PDA went on the fritz and I couldn't copy anything down, but I did video it on the camera and with any luck the sound quality should be sufficient to transcribe any other interesting details). A grand alliance was involved in some fashion.

Oh ... and George doesn't seem to have known that Darkstar isn't very popular. ;) He thought that a "bad boy" character would go over well, since people seem to love the Hound and even Theon Greyjoy so very much. We will probably have to have a discussion about this at the BwB party. ;)

Comic-Con (San Diego, CA; July 20-23)

Here are some recollections from GRRM's panel on Friday (I apologize if these have been previously reported):

- The spoiler chapter he read was the same as this one.

- GRRM realized that AFFC was going to be too unwieldy when his prologue alone weighed in at 200-250 pages. He then chopped the book in two, introduced a new PoV, and weaved the prologue into the main story.

- When asked about killing PoV's off in the near future, GRRM commented that he managed to keep the number of PoV characters fairly steady until AFFC, when he introduced several and didn't kill of any.

An amusing incident from Saturday... Veira called me on my cell phone (thanks Veira!) and told me that GRRM was signing comics at a booth but no one was around. I had yet to meet him, so I quickly rushed over. GRRM was there signing preview copies of the Fevre Dream comic with no one paying any attention to him. Unlike his other signings, this one had not been publisized at all and there was nothing at the booth mentioning GRRM at all.