The Citadel is an archive of information for George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.
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There was an impressive crowd there for the first stop on the American leg of Martin's A Feast for Crows tour. Based on the group size (25 per group, and I was in the 8th out of 9 groups), there were slightly over 200 people who had bought the books at the store that day or prior. The entire front half of the lower level of Davis-Kidd was packed with people and I ended up standing behind a shorter bookcase and leaning against it for the entire 45 minutes or so that Martin spoke.
As I expected based on previous reports, Martin himself was a humorous, polite, and charming person. He gave a funny introduction to his SOIAF booksigning experiences, narrating a story from the A Game of Thrones signing in St. Louis in 1996. He had been booked for a signing at a coffee shop/Leftist store called Left Bank Books on the same date that Ray Bradbury was the guest of honor at a nearby SF convention. He said there were only four people there in the store/café when he arrived, but when it was announced that he was going to talk and sign for a fantasy book, all four of those people left! He said he might just hold the mark for worst attendance for a signing, driving away customers rather than attracting even a single one!
He answered quite a few questions from the crowd, often with wry humor. He said that when he decided to write A Song of Ice and Fire, he did not want to write a story with an Indiana Jones-esque character, full of dashing and heroism, that the audience/readers would know would most certainly survive to the end, even when fighting a whole platoon of Nazi-type bad guys. He doesn't kill a character just to kill them, but only when the story calls for it. He said emotionally that the Red Wedding was the single hardest bit of writing he's done so far in the series and that he had to write around it before being able to write that at the end of his work on A Storm of Swords.
When asked about his favorite/least favorite characters were, he quickly said Tyrion was his favorite character to write and that Bran's chapters were the most difficult and usually the ones left for last in the books released so far. But there aren't any characters that he dislikes per say, as he maintained that he had to be able to 'get into their heads' and 'understand them' in order to be able to tell the story as he wanted. He said the multiple PoV perspective was essential for understanding SOIAF, as he believed it offered a way for not just him, but for the readers to gain multiple perspective on the same events.
In regards to the genesis of A Feast for Crows, he detailed again what was written on his website, about how he started writing it with the infamous five-year gap in mind (in order to let the children grow up), only to learn that it was hampering the story. He said that his publisher told him that 1600 manuscript pages were the maximum that they could put in a book and have it hold together, so once he reached 1650 and still had a bit to go in order to close the narrative cycle appropriately, he called and they agreed to split it. Since there was no convenient dividing spot and having all the storylines advance only halfway would just only be a recipe for criticism, that was when Martin divided it into the North and South. Since the South chapters are finished, that's what became AFfC, while the remaining North chapters to be written, along with Dany's adventures to the East, will be published in the near future (no timetable set) in A Dance with Dragons.
For those interested in the non-SOIAF aspects of Martin's writing, he not only confirmed that he's about finished with the third Dunk and Egg story, but that he hopes to write 8-9 of them in all and have them bound together into a single volume edition. He also confirmed that he's interested in exploring again writing a sequel to Fevre Dream as well as something to add to Tuff Voyaging and Wild Cards, but there's only so much time he can devote toward anything, considering he wants to get SOIAF complete.
As for his writing days, some days, the coffee grows cold before sipped, other days, he finishes off a few cups and ends up checking and rechecking his email in hopes for inspiration, after staring at a half-written sentence that 'sucks,' according to him. And speaking of the fans, he did say quite a few words about the wonderful people that run Westeros and said that fans such as the ones that visit there have helped him remember quite a bit of the "small stuff" that often goes into telling a story.
It was a very pleasant signing (my third in the past year and a half) and Martin seemed genuinely happy to be there, even when it got to be my group's turn to be called to line and I had to go up there and whisper my name to his publicist for my copy to be signed. I would highly recommend people interested at all in the series or even thinking about learning what the fuss is about to attend a booksigning near them if at all possible.
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