[Note: The following report comes from the kaffeklatsch held at Interaction.]
1. How do you deal with the writing if/when you get to a "sticky" bit that slows you down?
GRRM writes each person's POV story in isolation and then weaves/edits them into 1 piece. So if he gets stuck on, say an Arya chapter, he changes to writing Tyrion stuff and then goes back later.
2. There is a song about the seven gods, but only six are mentioned. Is there a verse that is missing/cut out?
Sorry - got a bit sidelined on this question and digressed to Magic & Gods in Westeros. More about that later.
3. There seems to be an awful lot of suffering in these books (especially the female characters, who get treated pretty brutally). Should we expect the next books to get lighter or darker?
On this one, he said that a lot of the male characters got it pretty rough too - Robb losing his dad, thinking he'd lost his brothers + Arya and then dying. But he said that at least in the short term, it's going to get darker.
4. How important is your fans opinion of the books to you? Would you ever consider making a change for the readers?/Do you know what will happen in Westeros in the next books, have a definite ending in mind for it, or are you now letting the story evolve as you write?
As they were related, I asked this as 1 question. He was a little cagey about it, but he pointed to the planned "5 year gap" between ASoS & AFFC (books 3 & 4 for the layman!) as an example of where fan's opinions - as well as his own efforts, pushed him into changing his storyline slightly. He made the point that his overall story hasn't changed but certainly elements of the sideline stories have become more fleshed out than he'd originally intended. Thats about as much as he went into on that one.
5. You're pretty active on the Internet forums and discussions f your work, albeit sometimes as a "lurker"...Have you ever changed something you'd planned to write because a fan's theory got too close to the mark, in order to keep the element of surprise?
He says he's stopped doing this for that reason! Well not really, but he doesn't change storylines because people have guessed where its going. He just hopes his work doesn't get that predictable!
6: Magic has steadily increased throughout your novels from pretty much non-existant in book 1 to rising prevalence by book 3. Will this trend continue in future books?
"That's a fairly safe assumption, yes". Good news for you magic fans out there I briefly discussed the role of Gods in the magic of Westeros. R'hllor etc. He has ruled out any appearances of "demigods" or direct involvement from the Gods in Westeros though.
7. Will there be life after "A Song of Ice & Fire"? In other words we will see any more stories set in Westeros?
Yes. He's already working on another Dunk & Egg story and plans to continue to putting these out whilst writing his new ASoIF books. Interestingly one of his fans (not GRRM himself) pointed out that he'd mentioned to GRRM that as Dunk ends up as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and each short story so far has been "a step up" (Hedge Knight, Sworn Sword etc) will he continue making the title of each story another "level". Apparently he's considering it, but hasn't decided yet.
To continue in the same view he has comprehensively ruled out ever doing a 'prequel' novel on Robert's Rebellion. Some ideas he has for future Westeros stories are (and again I stress he has not confirmed yet that he will do these) a novel on Aegon IV "The UnWorthy" from his POV and also a story set in Braavos and the Free Cities - possibly some kind of murder mystery type thing.
For potential future topics, GRRM is very keen on doing a novel set in a Roman-era fantasy world.
I asked if George really had an idea for an Aegon IV the Unworthy novel, first mentioned in this report.
Yes. He's a very interesting person. The idea would be to do it as a first person novel, a kind of I, Claudius meets Flashman thing. Aegon had something like nine mistresses, he had a difficult relationship with his queen and his brother, and so on. He was the worst king Westeros ever had. It's just an idea, though -- nothing set in stone, as he wasn't sure how well a first person story featuring that sort of character would work with readers.
Zollo asked if a Targaryen family tree will ever be published.
Eventually, perhaps. Right now there's lots and lots of names in there. Originally GRRM had the problem of too many names being too similar, which he tried to correct by making many new names only to decide he wasn't too happy with a lot of them. The current tree is something like the third or perhaps fourth version, he's not quite sure. For now, though, nothing is canon until it appears in the books.
I asked on behalf of Ormond how George came up with names and whether Joffrey and Sansa were named after Jofrie Borgia and his wife Sancia of Aragon.
Originally, George had babyname books and that sort of thing, and very carefully tried to pick out his names. By now, however, he has a feel for it and he just makes names up and sees if they sounds right to him. Joffrey and Sansa were not named after Jofrie and Sancia.
I asked GRRM about the curious response he gave to someone once, as reported in this report regarding whether Duncan the Small or Jaehaerys had been heir to King Aegon V (Egg).
He intends to keep that vague, because it's supposed to be a revelation for future Dunk & Egg stories.
Zollo asked George whether he would continue with the naming pattern that he has used for the first two Dunk & Egg stories, essentially titling them after what stage Duncan is in his career. At one point I mentioned that the last could just be called "Summerhall".
He said he was considering it, and might well do so if he could come up with good titles in that mode and they actually fit with the story. When I fished with that suggestion for the last Dunk & Egg story, I believe -- but cannot verify -- that George gave me a curious look. It may be that I hit close to the mark, or it could just be my imagination.
Cerys the Patryn talked to George about Samwell. At the end, she asked if Sam would ever have some sort of revenge on his cruel father, Lord Randyll.
He said to read and find out.
George was asked if there'd be any more sex scenes involving two women.
Yes, there's one in A Feast for Crows, and it does not involve Daenerys.
I asked George about the new covers that both editions were receiving, for Mean Mr. Mustard.
Basically, the idea is that a lot of his publishers realize that GRRM already has a high recognition value in the fantasy market, and it's a good time to try and expand his readership to a broader range. So, the marketing and new covers, etc., are aimed at trying to bring in the sort of people who read, say, Bernard Cornwell and the like -- historical fiction, etc. Martin did say some fans were upset at it, wanting all the covers to be the same, but what can you do? It's a business decision (which, I gather, he really doesn't have much say in) and it's one that seems to make sense.
Jane Johnson, head of Voyager in the U.K., added more information regarding their thinking. British booksellers are very unsupportive of science fiction and, especially, fantasy. So the new covers are one attempt to try and get them to take the books more seriously and display them more prominently. There was a strong sense that there's a strong current of elitist snobbery both among critics and booksellers in the U.K. Even now, Voyager feels that GRRM's books are being underordered. On a related note, Voyager cannot afford to republish the series with the new-style covers in hardback, because they operate on thinner margins than their American counterparts.
Cteresa asked George if Harry the Heir was going to appear in AFfC. I later asked the same for the King of the Mummers. The names from this mail.
Harry would not appear, but would be mentioned. The King of the Mummers would not be appearing until A Dance with Dragons.
Maltaran asked about comparisons of Bretan Braith (from Dying of the Light) to the Hound.
He said yes, they are similar, but Bretan has much more duality in him, as he is handsome on the unburnt side, while Sandor was only average before the burning.
Cteresa talked with George about how very long summers can be as bad as long winters, because of drought, forest fires, etc.
He was very vehement that they had enough rain in Dorne so they should be ok.
Cteresa comments on the fact that George said something regarding Sam and Jon. Others add further details
I remember GRRM talking about writing a chapter with Sam and Jon on the wall from Sams PoV , and that he was thinking of writing the same chapter for ADwD but from JonԴs PoV. Mormont added that he had first mentioned that George had once shown the same scene from two different POVs in the Wild Cards series once, and that it was this remark which led him to reveal his thinking regarding the Sam and Jon chapters. But he also said he had to try it to see if it worked first. If it didn't work, he'd junk it.
I asked George about where AFfC was in the editing process.
He still had a last proofing/copyediting to go through. At this juncture, it was just a last pass through to try and catch any minor errors that hadn't been caught by himself, his editors, his copyeditors, and his proofers in previous pass-throughs. Hopefully no significant errors would be found, as it was pretty much too late to try and insert corrections.
At the Creating Characters panel, George makes some remarks relevant to ASoIaF.
The "Boba Fett effect" has struck him before. In Wild Cards, a throwaway Ace named the Howler was created specifically for the purpose of being killed off. He had, perhaps, one line in the series. But he actually had a fan following, for no reason George could understand. Similarly, Tytos Blackwood has developed a similar following, though he's hardly had more lines, and his main distinguishing feature is his raven-feather cloak and his yellow and black armor.
At the Collecting Miniature Knights presentation, George makes a remark concerning armor in Westeros.
When discussing the Courtenay figures he collected, he noted that their period was more or less during the Hundred Years War, and that the sort of armor they wearing was what he imagined for many of the knights in Westeros. There was variation, of course, as some knights are poorer and some richer and so on, but that gives a rough starting place.
SirRots asked GRRM about the size of Dany's dragons, and whether they were going to be large enough to ride by AFfC/ADwD.
George said that they were not big enough to be ridden at this time.
Bastard of Godsgrace talked with George about the very large cast of POV characters he now had in the books.
George meentioned that he had too many POVs - 19 - and he has to go down to about 9. When it was suggested that he could just drop them rather than kill them off, said that he doesn't have to kill them off, he can just drop them, he said that he could possibly do that, but seemed rather dubious about it.
Bastard of Godsgrace spoke to George regarding the third Dunk & Egg story.
George mentioned that since Silverberg is not interested in doing Legends 3, he signed a contract for the third story with some small press publisher. Rhelle added that she was almost sure that published was Subterranean Press, so that's the probable (but not absolutely certain) publisher.
Mormont learned some information regarding Wild Cards from John J. Miller.
John has written (and George has edited) the MS for the next book, which will feature 5 PoV characters, three of which are new characters. The ID of the other two is spoilerific. John also said that, due to a death at the head of the publishing company [Byron Preiss], this might be delayed, but that they have a contract to publish a further two new WC books and reprint some of the older ones (7-10, IIRC).
Following the "Creating Characters" panel, Linda and I mentioned to George that some people gave Sansa and Catelyn a lot of grief, claiming they "whined" too much.
George was quite adamant that he disagreed with those readers. He pointed out that the problem is that readers often don't seem to make a distinction between internal thought and external speech in a way that an author might prefer. Specifically, in terms of "whining", to him whining is a verbal act -- you actually have to speak to whine. Cat doesn't do that, though -- all her dark, depressed thoughts are kept to herself. Yes, the reader is aware of them, because they read her POV, but she absolutely does not burden other characters with them. Basically, everyone has bad times among the good times, and they think negatively then but just having negative thoughts isn't whining.
Bastard of Godsgrace overheard GRRM remark on the Boltons in ADwD.
George mentioned that we will see a lot of Roose and Ramsay in ADWD.
Finally, some pronounciations: Ghis sounds like Geese (with possibly a little bit of the h apparent). Dothraki = Doth-, not Doath-. Pyat Pree = Pee-at, not Pie-at. Myrcella = Mer-sell-ah, not -kell-ah.