I wrote to you once last summer to congratulate you on ASOIAF, but after reading ASOS, I just had to do it again (not to mention that I came up with more questions :-)
That's life... there are always more questions...
ASOS kept up your tradition of attention to details, amazing and realistic characters, and no dumbing down of violence or sex or ugly details to please younger audiences. Jaime's POV was a fantastic addition - I had been wondering if we was a hopelessly corrupted man or just one who'd lost his way. "That boy had wanted to be Ser Arthur Dayne, but somewhere along the way he had become the Smiling Knight instead." I think that was incredibly poignant and revealing about Jaime, and it was those words that convinced me that Jaime had been had started out as a good man who grew corrupted along the way.
The Jaime sections were very challenging, but I enjoying writing them. Complex characters are always the most interesting.
Another thing I very much like about ASOIAF is the amazing size of the cast of characters. Sometimes, a character seen in one book will pop up in another without warning. For me, the best example was Anguy, the archer in Beric Dondarrion's band, who, from his skill with a bow, I believe to be the Anguy who won the archery contest at the Hand's tourney (am I right?)
Yes. Good catch.
And now (surprise, surprise), the questions. 1- With time and effort (say, the five years between ASOS and ADWD), can Jaime learn to fight left-handed, like Quorin Halfhand did?
He's going to have to find out, I suspect.
2- Now that Tywin Lannister is dead, will it be Kevan or Cersei who will assume control of House Lannister (and the throne)? I'm assuming that Jaime cannot because he's in the Kingsguard and seems to want to remain there. Whether it's Kevan or Cersei, there's bound to be trouble. Cersei is shortsighted, quick to take offense, and very protective of her children (I think that's why she had a knight of the Kingsguard try to kill Tyrion), whereas Kevan was used to taking orders from his older brother.
Sorry, that's another you'll need to wait for the next book to resolve.
3- After five years, will Daenerys's dragons have grown large enough to be ridden?
4- Did the Targaryens own a family sword made of Valyrian steel, like Ice or Brightroar or Longclaw?
And if yes, what was it named and what happened to it - Rhaegar had it on the Trident, maybe?
The most famous of them was named Blackfyre. It was long lost by Rhaegar's day, however.
Or, if you can't tell right now, will we find out about it in a later book?
5- Will we know in time, with certainty, the identity of Jon Snow's parents (I don't believe Edric Dayne's tale)? Personally, I really hope he's Lyanna and Rhaegar's son, despite looking so much like Eddard.
Jon's parentage will be revealed eventually, yes.
6- Since Tyrion is going to the Free Cities (and one of Varys's contacts there likely being Magister Illyrio), is it a possibility that he might hear of and hook up with Dany and her dragons (he's fascinated by dragons, if I remember well)?
7- Rhaegar is described by Ser Barristan and Ser Jorah Mormont as being melancholy and noble and honorable. That hardly strikes me as the kind of man who'd cheat on his wife, especially at such a public event as the tourney at Harrenhal. So why did he did he choose Lyanna as queen of love an beauty?
8- When Arya says she "dreamed" of finding her mother's corpse, did she actually take over the body of her lost wolf Nymeria, the way Jon and Bran sometimes do?
9- It's not really a question, but I've noticed a great similarity between ASOS and Lord of the Rings - the two Sams, Samwell Tarly and Samwise Gamgee. In particular, in each series, a Sam made a desperate attack on a hopelessly superior force (an Other and the huge spider Shelob) to protect a defenseless companion (Gilly and her baby and the bound Frodo). Would you care to comment?
There are a number of homages to LOTR in my book. I am a huge Tolkien fan.
By the way, I hope Jon Snow isn't ASOIAF's Frodo. Jon's my favorite character, and I wouldn't want him to end up like Frodo, sick and scarred inside from his burden.
He's taller than Frodo.
10- Have you begun writing A Dance with Dragons? And if yes, when will it be coming out?
The next book will be out in fall, 2002.
11- Is ASOS selling well? Better than ACOK and AGOT?
Yes, as a matter of fact, it is.
12- Do you have plans for more stories set in Westeros aside from ASOIAF and The Hedge Knight? I'd really like a story about Robert Baratheon's war to unseat Aerys or one centering on the great tourney at Harrenhal - with Rhaegar's POV, if possible, to learn what made him choose Lyanna instead of his own wife as queen of love and beauty.
I want to do more Dunk and Egg stories. Beyond that, I don't know.
Thank you for taking the time of reading this, and, I hope, answering it :-)