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!