I expect I'll come to San Jose for the worldcon there in a few years, and maybe before that... but you can keep the dollar, thanks. Use it to buy my books.
In high school, I was reading J.R.R. Tolkien, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Jack Vance, along with some writers I'd gotten hooked on in grade school, like Robert A. Heinlein, Andre Norton, Eric Frank Russell, and Poul Anderson. Also lots of Ace doubles and comic books. (The first thing of mine ever published was a letter in the FANTASTIC FOUR).
I was also writing for fanzines in high school.
I read a lot of history, and mine it for good stuff, but I also like to mix and match. That is to say, I don't do straight one-for-one transplants, as some authors do, so you can't really say that X in Westeros equals Y in real life. More often X in Westeros equals Y and Z in real life, with squidges of Q, L, and A.
In the case of Dorne, yes, Wales was definitely an influence, for all the reasons you cite. But there's also some distinctly unWelsh elements down there. South of the wall of mountains you have a hot, dry country more like Spain or Palestine than the cool green valleys of Wales, with most of the settlements along the seacoast and in few great river basins. And you also have the flavor given the culture by the great Rhoynar influx led by Nymeria. I suppose the closest real life equivilent to that would be the Moorish influence in parts of Spain. So you could say Dorne is Wales mixed with Spain and Palestine with some entirely imaginary influences mixed in. Or you could just say it's Dorne....
Well, my books are edited by my editors -- Anne Lesley Groell at Bantam (US) and Jane Johnson and Joy Chamberlain at HarperCollins Voyager (UK). I do send them sections as I go along -- not individual chapters but sizeable chunks -- but the editing does not really begin until I deliver the finished novel. At which point they read the book and give me notes, and I revise. Then the manuscript goes to a copyeditor, who checks it for grammar, syntax, spelling, internal consistancy, and the like, and flags any mistakes. Which I then fix. Then the book goes to the typesetters, and I receive a set of galley proofs to check and correct. The typesetting process introduces new mistakes that have to be found and corrected.
All this takes time, obviously.
I have heard the same tales as you of writers who submit chapter one while still writing chapter two, but I could never work that way. I revise constantly as I go along, always honing and polishing. I may get a new idea while writing chapter fifty two which requires me to go back and change chapters three, nine, and twenty-one. If you lose the ability to do that, because the earlier chapters are already set in type before the later ones are finished, you're binding yourself in chains.
I am delighted to report that A CLASH OF KINGS has been nominated for a Nebula Award by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). The final ballot in the novel category is:
George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings (Bantam, Feb99)
Vernor Vinge, A Deepness in the Sky (St. Martins Press, Feb99; Tor, Jan00)
Maureen McHugh, Mission Child (Avon Eos, Dec98; Eos, Nov99)
Sean Stewart, Mockingbird (Ace, Aug98; Ace, Mar00)
Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents (Seven Stories Press, Nov98; Warner Books, Jan00)
Ken Macleod, The Cassini Division (Tor, Jul99)
The book's still not done, but I'm getting awfully close. Another couple of weeks should do it, I hope.
It looks as though it will be the longest volume to date.
[Summary: This is the text of an AOL Instant Messanger chat between Flayed Man and Mr. Martin, concerning both reputed mountain clans in the North and the attitudes of the valelords towards the Starks]
Flayed Man: mr martin please answer this for me.. in north while it is being invaded by ironborn and possibly by BOB, there are resistant factions and you once said that there are "mountain clans". and in north there are mountain clans yes?
GeoRR: in the mountains northwest of Winterfell, yes
Flayed Man: and they remain loyal to starks? since they fight for their land and north? like scottish clans loyal to their kings?
GeoRR: yes, they are loyal to Winterfell... at least they have been loyal in the past
Flayed Man: finally (i know you are busy and all) as of your personally thinking the lords of vale they are friendly to starks and tullys as if they are brothers and there are lords who are "itching" to get pieace of lannisters and want to help robb. Also tell me how friendly are they with robb right now (how the lords of vale feel about robb).
GeoRR: The lords of the Vale are numerous. As with any large group, their views vary.
GeoRR: "Brothers" overstates the case, but certainly Ned made friends during his years in the Eyrie... so did Robert, however, so some of the Vale houses would be just as well disposed toward Baratheon as toward Stark.
GeoRR: Do some of the them want to join Robb? Certainly. Most notably Bronze Yohn Royce. Others, however, want no part of the war, and some may even favor the other contenders.
I hope you're a little kinder to Tyrion in the future! He's my favorite character, but he somehow seems to (undeservedly) get the shortend of the stick on a regular basis. Fortunately his wits compensate for all the ill luck you seem to throw his way. Sorry... I just hadto speak my mind.
Well, I'm fond of Tyrion as well... but I am afraid his travails have just begun. Of course, that's true for all of them. Things will get a lot worse before they get better, I fear.