The Citadel: SSM

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US Signing Tour (Half Moon Bay, CA)

Jon Targaryen has already reported the important stuff, so there's not much to add. It looks like the Jaime/Loras shippers are out-of-luck, as are those wishing for an explicit flashback to Renly and Loras in bed. Caress of Cersei was entertaining throughout. She said "We've had descriptions of Tyrion's bulbous purple head, and Sam's fat pink mast, when are we going to get a detailed description of Rhaegar's cock?" George laughed all such suggestions off, good-naturedly but you could tell he found the idea dubious at best. Sally/Arya/Asha from Berkeley was very outspoken about wanting Sansa to die and George kept a straight poker face through that and all similar serious pronouncements about where people wanted the plot to go. The same sort of breakdown was evident at the Half Moon Bay signing. He was quick to squash suggestions that Brienne and Tyrion might be a couple, but gave no reaction at all to questions about R+L=J. I think we can trust that if George says no, it means no, and if he says nothing, it could go either way.

At both signings George talked mostly about the history of his writing career, the ups and downs of being an author (at Half Moon Bay he told some anecdotes about Stephen R. Donaldson, who also lives in New Mexico and is a long-time friend of George's), and stories about past signing tours. The one about the -4 turnout in St. Louis has been reported here already. At Kepler's he told another story about being upstaged in Dallas by Clifford the Big Red Dog, with some miming of a person in a dog suit signing books with a big red paw print. He didn't say much at all about the plots or characters of Song of Ice and Fire unless asked by the audience. The Half Moon Bay audience asked more of those questions than the audience at Kepler's did. I got the impression that the audience in Half Moon Bay was younger than the audience in Menlo Park, probably because of the time. It's easier to cut work in the early afternoon than to cut school...

[Note: Teri is asked about GRRM's Donaldson anecdote.]

Well, let's see. It came up in a context of someone asking him if, after he completes Song of Ice and Fire, he intends to write more stories in that world, or whether he will switch to something different. To which he said that he would prefer to do something new, but he really likes his work to be read (the biggest reason he left the film industry was frustration at writing pilots and concept treatments that nobody but the studio execs ever saw). Then he listed a number of authors who had trouble selling anything set outside the world and characters that made them famous, including Arthur Conan Doyle with Sherlock Holmes, Frank Herbert with Dune, etc.

That led into an account of Donaldson's publishing career. He told about how Donaldson wrote all three volumes of the first Chronicles of Thomas Covenant before sending any of them to a publisher, and he sent the whole package of three books to all 43 companies that were publishing science fiction and fantasy at the time, and got rejected by them all. The publishers all felt the basic premise was unmarketable. "Who is going to want to read about a leper?", they asked. Then he started over at the beginning of the list, modifying his cover letter to address some of the objections. He finally got someone to take a risk on it, and it became a best seller. Suddenly the publishers were all over him to write more of the same. The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant was also a big hit, and he got begged to do a Third Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. But Donaldson was wanting to try something different. So he wrote "Mordant's Need", and, as George quoted Donaldson "lost three quarters of his audience". Not learning his lesson, he followed that with the Gap series, and "lost three quarters of the readers he had left." He found that his best sellers were not due to millions of Stephen R. Donaldson fans, but to millions of Thomas Covenant fans. After that, publishers wouldn't touch a non-TC Donaldson novel with a ten foot pole. Finally he came back in 2004 with The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, which is selling again.

Then GRRM recapped his concern that he hopes he doesn't just have Song of Ice and Fire fans, and suggested that the audience buy the reprints of his earlier works like Fevre Dream, Dying of the Light, and Armageddon Rag, to prove to his publishers that there's a readership for GRRM works set outside the world of Westeros.

...

I asked "Will we get information in A Dance for Dragons to resolve any of the cliffhangers from A Feast for Crows, or will we have to wait for book 6 to find out what happens?" And his reply was that first he wants to bring all the POV characters not in A Feast for Crows up to roughly the same time period that A Feast for Crows ends. Then, depending on how many pages that ends up being, if he has room he will start mixing in points of view from the characters in the south. So probably we will get some information on the cliffhangers in A Feast for Crows, unless the North and East storylines end up taking more pages than he expects them to.

This was in the kitchen when we were both topping up our wine glasses. I don't think anybody else was in the kitchen right then.

One thing to consider is that for each book, he likes to end each point of view either on a cliffhanger, or on a full resolution (like a definite death), or on a major change of scene (someone leaving for a new destination or arriving at one.) So he may be a bit reluctant to continue from a particular cliffhanger if he doesn't have time to develop that character to the next good stopping point.

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