I showed up to B&N a little before 4 and the seats had already filled up, so I took a seat on the floor in the standing room line. I was early enough that I was about 60 or 70 people back in line, which meant I still got through pretty quickly once the signing began and was out a little before 9. Big props to the B&N staff for keeping things organized and moving quickly.
George got a standing ovation when he came up the escalator and his first words on the microphone were, "Wow. See, I really was working on it!" He talked about how much bigger the crowds are now than when he was on the book tour for AGOT and told the story of how the four people at a signing in St. Louis got up and left as he was about to start ("Some writers talk about having no one show up to their signings, but I think I'm the only one who can claim a turnout of negative 4!").
George said he'd talk about the three questions he gets most often. Most people here know the answer to "What took you so long?" The second question was "When will the next one be out?", and he said "It will be done when it's done. I've learned my lesson not to make promises." He also said he hoped to have the ASOIAF World Book out next year. The third question was "What do you think of the TV show?", and his answer was "I love the TV show, I think it's amazing." He talked about the Emmy nominations (Peter Dinklage's nomination drew the biggest applause), mentioned that ADWD had the biggest first-day sales of any new novel published in 2011, and then opened the floor up for questions.
Quick summary of audience questions and GRRM's answers (the quoted parts are my notes filled out to the best of my memory):
Q: Is it possible the tale will grow in the telling again and we will see eight book?
A: "I would like to do it in 7," but he didn't want to make any promises.
Q: Do the many gods serve any other purpose?
A: George answered this by talking about what he sees as the two schools of readers: those interested mainly in plot and those who are interested in the entire experience. "My philosophy of fiction is not necessarily all about advancing the plot... I want to give my readers a vicarious experience. Ten years later, I don't want you to remember you read a book, I want you to remember you lived an experience."
Q: What new advice for young writers did you learn by writing Dance?
A: "Don't try to write something so gigantic! When I finish the series I'm never going to do it again," adding that he would write more short stories and standalones. His summary of advice to young writers is "write everyday," "read voraciously" in multiple genres, and "start with short stories."
Q: What is the last book you read that you thought was great?
A: Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey. George admitted he was a bit biased as Corey is really his assistant Ty and his friend Daniel Abraham, but he did love the book.(Right after he said this, a B&N employee walked down the aisle I was standing in, grabbed a big stack of copies of Leviathan Wakes, and brought them out to a table by the top of the down escalator. I heard later that they sold all of them by the end of the night.)
Q: Is a certain POV character in ADWD gay?
A: "I can't answer without spoiling, but if you're talking about what I think you're talking about, then yes." George mentioned that there are gay characters in ASOIAF. He mentioned Loras & Renly, saying that he included "what I thought were subtle but clear hints. HBO was not subtle about it."
Q: Will you make a cameo in the HBO series?
A: "Probably, though you'll have to watch very carefully." He told the story of his cameo in the original pilot and the crazy hat he wore as a Tyroshi.
Q: How do you stay plugged into the story and keep track of the details?
A: "Most of the stuff is kepts in my head. I do have notes and charts, but not as many as I should." And he emails Ran with questions about character details. :) He said he gets upset with himself when he makes a mistake, because there are already intentional mistakes in what characters say. "Some inconsistencies are deliberate. There are unreliable narrators, especially when they are remembering things."
Q: Did you have to fight with your publisher to keep that huge thing that happens in the first book? (There was a no spoiler policy in effect for the Q&A.)
Q: How long should an aspiring writer stick with one idea?
A: "If an idea comes to you and demands to be written, you need to write it." (My apologies for not taking better notes on the answer.)
Q: Hodor hodor hodor, hodor hodor, hodor hodor hodor hodor?
A: "Definitely hodor."
And then he started signing books, and then we all ended up at Professor Thom's where the bar had made a sign for the "Game of Thrones Fan Party" on the second floor, and it was a good time.