[Note: The precise date, beyond late November 2005, is unknown.]
My husband went with a few of his buddies to the Albuquerque signing last night, got a few of our books signed, and managed to get most of the talk and QA recorded on his PDA for me, which came out pretty well in spite of ~75 people being in attendance; it was standing-room only. I suppose I should have posted a note ahead of time to see if anyone would be there, but since I knew I wouldn't be going myself, I didn't think of it!
- George gave his usual humorous talk about his signings - the story about having his signing in Dallas ages back being trumped by Clifford the Big Red Dog, and also the one about driving four people out of the feminist bookstore in St Louis. Good stuff!
- He discussed his tour and seemed pleased as punch that his British edition made the Times bestseller list in England, and the American edition debuted on the NY Times list at #1. Big applause for that! He thanked his editors, agents, publicists, publishers, bookstores, readers, and Parris (who was present) at length, attributing his success to them. The part about 'word of mouth advertising' and people forcing their friends and relatives to read the books, really hit home with me... I've addicted at least fifteen people to the series by myself hehe, and I hound the newer ones to finish!
- He told the story about how the series got started, how he was writing something else and the scene with the direwolves in the snow just came to him and demanded to be written.
- He talked about the 5-year-gap, and that he trashed it primarily because he just couldn't skip all that time for the adults and write everything in flashbacks; what might have worked for the children didn't work for the adults. Also, he mentioned the problem with a gap meaning he'd have to recreate all the tension and foreboding, especially on the Wall, which felt false.
- He discussed the reasons he took so long for this book, that it just kept getting bigger and bigger, got to 1600-1700 pages long and still not done, and also why he divided it up - largely because he didn't want to cut anything out - he couldn't do that by just 'deleting all the adjectives', he would have had to cut intertwining character arcs and plotlines, and he was unwilling to do that, and moreover leery of the delay that a massive revision like that would cause. (As a side note, he made the point that he doesn't include chapters or characters on a whim, they all have a very good reason for being there.) He also rejected the idea of just cutting it down the middle, because that would have left the first part without any sort of a climactic end. His analogy is that the series is a symphony and each book is a movement, and explained that he likes each character arc to have some sort of finale in each book, whether it's on a cliffhanger, or a completion of some phase of the character's story arc (or death hehe). Ultimately, he decided to divide it geographically as you all know, since Dany's story is taking place in Martinland's China, and the rest is taking place in Martinland's England.
- He said he's getting back to work writing now that his tour is done. He said he has 500-600 of it done and a strong idea of where he's going, and hopes he's back a year from now with the next book.
Question Answer Session
- Someone asked about whether the next book was going to explode and be four books, whether the series would start getting out of control. George said he hoped not; he admitted that it started as a trilogy, and that ADWD is the book that 'has always receded away from him.' He quoted Tolkien: "A story makes its own demands." He said he's still aiming for 7 books, which he thinks has nice thematic symmetry (7 kingdoms, 7 gods) but that he's not promising anything in blood, it might take more.
- One guest asked how much of the "ending" of the story Martin knows before he sits down to write the beginning; George answered that he's not an architect who must know where everything goes before building, but rather he's a gardener who throws out seeds and tries to shape the plants as they come up, as best he can. He mentioned again the scene with the direwolves sparking the series, that he really didn't have any of it planned in the very beginning. He did say that in Hollywood, he was expected to be an architect because they want to approve of your plans ahead of time, and that maybe because of that, his Hollywood work wasn't as good.
- George was asked about his method for writing; he answered that he commutes to his second house across the street to work and write every day, starts out with his coffee and email, rereads and revises yesterday's work, and then sets to writing new stuff - on the good days. (He must be deadly sick of answering these same questions millions of times!)
- He was also asked about advice for new writers, and he gave the usual answer: write short stories not novels and trilogies. The good thing about writing short stories being that if you write a bad one, you've only wasted three weeks rather than years, and while the money isn't huge, there's always room for new authors, because established folks move on to novels. Of course he also suggested reading voraciously, in all fields, not just fantasy - 'the best writers are sponges'.
- Someone asked how, as a 'gardener' style of writer, George manages to set and stick to the "rules" of his fantasy world without contradicting what has gone before. George answered that he doesn't have to worry about contradicting his magical system because he's deliberately limited the magic and intentionally tries to keep it magical and mysterious, that the essence of magic is that it must be "wondrous and unexplainable". He doesn't like what other authors have done, which is to treat magic like a different kind of science with its own set rules. He does admit keeping some details straight is hard, since he keeps a lot of it in his head, though that's supplemented with charts and computer files. He joked that he thinks the brain synapses normal people use for real life, he uses for living and remembering things in Westeros; he forgets the real people he meets, but can remember the names of the guardsmen of third-rate lordlings several books ago. He did note with some amusement that his readers catch his mistakes for him (Renly's eyes being green once, then blue, and then calling them 'blue-green eyes that changed color depending on what he wears' as an out). Ditto with various horse gender oopses.
- One woman remarked that George does a remarkable job making each viewpoint character drastically different in the way the speak and act, and wondered how he pulled it off. He said that was the fun part and the challenge. He gets into a groove with characters, and will write one character for awhile, multiple chapters with that character in a row until he gets stumped, then he switches, and when he does, he steps back and has to consciously take a deep breath and remind himself he's writing someone else. He mentioned he borrowed the interweaving viewpoint style ("mosaic novels") from the Wild Cards series, which worked best and gained strength when different characters lent their own world views and eyes to the same events. He joked that the best part of having so many characters is that he can kill some of them off and still have plenty left over to tell the story (big laugh there hehe), and that makes it more suspensful.
- Favorite character question - Tyrion, he answered (yes you've heard this before), because he's a smartass, he's an active character who drives the narrative, he's always up to something, always has plans, and his voice comes to Martin easily, being the character most like himself. Although, he notes, he is taller and has an entire nose (more laughs). Then he said, your next question will be, who's the hardest character to write, and that's Bran, because he has to recheck every sentence to make sure it's really what an 8-year-old would think and say, and that it's even harder when he has to write about Bran morphing into Summer, because he finds it hard to put himself in the place of a wolf.
- Next he was asked whether he finds it difficult to kill off viewpoint characters. He said yes, definitely; they're not just characters he's writing about, but rather he feels like he's been inside the heads of these people (he was really trying to avoid spoilers here). He did say that the Red Wedding was the hardest chapter for him to write, and that he put it off til the very end, even though he knew it had to be done. He explained though, that even though it's hard, he writes with the goal of making his readers experience, and live, the books, not just read them, to see and feel what the characters see and feel. He brought up the idea of fear, of fun 'roller-coaster' fear versus 'real' fear, that in some books you can be confident the hero will never die so you never truly feel their fear. He prefers instead to create the idea of uncertainty, of 'mortal peril', to make you afraid to turn the next page. He did mention he gets letters from people upset that characters die, that they weren't reading his books and getting emotionally attached to see them die - 'they wanted roller-coaster fear, and I chucked them out of the roller-coaster' (laughs). He noted he wasn't trying to put them down, that even he enjoys that from time to time (he used Indiana Jones as an example).
- One man asked whether George ever learns of people naming their kids after his characters. He pointed the guy to his website, where he even has baby pictures of Sansas, Aryas, even a Daenarys, Nymeria, Eddard, Bran, Chataya, and several Cerseis. He won't take credit for the Jons, though (hehe). It was great; someone in the audience made a crack about Cersei, and someone else said "as long as they aren't twins"). He mentioned meeting a little girl whose parents had named her Daenarys and he made a joke about how she was really going to hate spelling that when she gets to first grade. He also once got a letter from a 23-year-old girl named Lya whose mother said she was named after a character in one of his stories (A Song for Lya) and wanted to know who the heck Lya was. George sent her a copy! Hehe. He said he finds it flattering overall, but thinks it's a bad idea when the story isn't done yet and some of the characters will come to a bad end, and then those parents will be pissed with him!
- A woman asked if he woke up one day and decided to become a writer; he answered nah he'd always known, was always a writer, even selling his stories as a kid in the projects, for a nickel (the price of a milky way bar). He mentioned that all little kids have dreams of becoming an astronaut or a superhero, but as he got older he realized that it was kinda hard to become a playboy crimefighter, and not a lot of job opportunities for it (laughs!) and that writing about it was easier to break into.
- Another woman mentioned that Martin is very intuitive when writing women; Martin responded with the idea that everyone always says to "write what you know", and that he hated that when he was young, because he wanted to do science fiction, he wanted to write about space pirates, and how could he ever know space pirates? But that now he realizes there is truth to that, and what he knows best is himself. So he'd learn about space, and he'd learn about pirates, and then put himself into the character, no matter how different, and figure out how he'd feel in those shoes, and then write it. He pointed out he does women, young girls, old men, warriors, dwarfs, and that he's never been any of those things; 'it's all a question of empathy'. Yes, he noted, there are differences between men and women, but there are also a great deal of similarities, we're all people, and when he's stumped, he just talks to women and asks them.
- He was asked about his story The Sandkings and how he felt about its adaptation into an Outer Limits episode. He answered that a healthy attitude is to realize the story exists separately from any secondary product. He told the story of how someone involved with said TV production had called him, excited to let him know that they had cast three members of the Bridges family of actors to play the three generations of the Sandkings. He answered, well, that's great... but in my story, there weren't three generations!
- A guy asked about the Dunk and Egg stories, and asked whether the next DE story would be at the Wall. Answer: nope. He did say he was working on another DE story but it's only half done and he hopes to finish it soon but he wasn't sure where it would be published (he mumbled something about the Legends anthology being defunct? I'm out of the loop on that).
- The same guy asked about the Daynes and the Sword of the Morning, asking how that title is decided. George said the Sword of the Morning is always a member of House Dayne, someone who is deemed worthy of wielding Dawn as decided within the House, that whoever it is would have to earn the right to wield it.
- Question about the comic book version of one of his stories that he mentioned at Bubonicon... Martin said the Hedge Knight comic and graphic novel was done and there'd be a sequel (Sworn Sword) that was also being adapted by the same people, but that the Fevre Dream comic was still being worked on, with illustrations by a Spanish artist, so he doesn't have an ETA on that one.
- Some poor lout asked about about all the bad luck House Stark has had (laughs) and whether they'd all get back together by the end. Of course George wouldn't answer (big laughs), saying that was akin to asking Orson Welles what "rosebud" is. Ie - keep reading! Then he was asked if Rickon would ever get a chapter, and Martin said that the only thing worse than writing an 8-year-old (Bran) would be writing a rabid 4-year-old. He did say that "perhaps" Rickon will have "days in the sun" when he grows up a little, but that we shouldn't expect viewpoint chapters from a 4-year-old. He also said that if he'd stuck with the 5 year gap, Rickon might have been more feasible in that role.
- My husband asked about the maesters and their science being destructive of magic in AFFC, a subject I've ranted on here on the boards before, and a subject he finds personally important, being a scientist himself. He was specifically talking about a story in A Song For Lya, and Martin was quick - he mentioned the exact story my husband was thinking of, "With Morning Comes Mistfall". He admitted that it's a recurring theme in his work, and that "Misfall" came about when he was reading a newspaper article in the early 70s about a scientist who'd been given a grant to study Loch Ness and determine, once and for all, whether or not there was really a Nessie lurking in its depths, and ultimately proving there was no monster. Martin says he didn't like that; he prefers a world in which we can continue to hope there is a Loch Ness monster, that the world is poorer without that mystery. But he went on to say that doesn't truly "epitophize" (great new word!) his views on science, that they're much more complex than that, that he's not a believer in simple black and white, in characters or in anything else.
- The next questioner said, in reference to the question about how Martin writes women, that Jack Nicholson had once said to write a woman, "just take a man and remove all reason and accountability." Martin said "Oh you're in trouble now!" Then he asked about name pronunciation. JAY-mee. Deh-NAIR-is. Tar-GAIR-ee-ehn. Ser like Sir. MAY-ster. Then he said, but you can say MY-ster if you want, that he's from New Jersey and he's probably saying it wrong anyway. He did laugh about the audio books (read by Roy Dotrice from Beauty and the Beast), that they questioned him on the hard ones and got them right, but then went and got all the easy ones wrong (like Peh-TEER instad of PEE-ter.) Then the same guy asked whether Valyrian steel had anything to do with Conan, and Martin said no. (No idea what that means!)
- Martin was asked a bit more about Wild Cards; he said they're pitching their publishers a new three book deal, since the current series has wound down, and that they're going to be adding a new cast of characters, since a lot of the current characters are old, and also to give an 'in' for new readers.
- He discussed the HBO series "Rome"; he said he hadn't watched the finale, but he had a feeling Caesar may die (lots of laughs). He demands that everyone get HBO because of the quality of their shows. He compared 'Rome' to ABC's 'Empire' which he said sucked ("The same story, but done really stupid.")
- The last person told Martin to take as much time as he needed with the books; that they were worth the wait. George seemed to really appreciate that, and told everyone to keep reading because he "has a lot of good stuff planned."
When it was my husband's turn to get our books signed, he told him he wanted the Stark words in two books, and the Tarth words (whatever they were) in the third. George said that he hadn't ever come up with words for the Tarths (maybe he will, now!) He laughed and said if we really wanted something about Tarth, he could just write "sapphires" - naturally, my hubby said, "no, sapphireth!" But ultimately he just put "Winter is Coming" in all of them.
Most of the questions that got asked were ones like, is your favorite character also your favorite POV to write? (Tyrion, and yes!) Map questions, and questions about the next book.
I did get called on, way in the back (which is impressive since I could barely see the man from my seat!) And asked why Aerys had demanded the heads of Robert and Ned, and how that fit in with what we already know. He said that Aerys had already killed Brandon and Rickard, and saw Robert and Ned as threats. Also, that Robert was known as a strong warrior and was Ned's best friend, and also had a strong claim to the throne. He then corrected that by saying he had a claim to the throne. The idea behind demanding the heads as wards, is that they were not surrounded by their own men, but Arryn men. Jon could have just handed them over, and then there would be no story. But we know he didn't, which allowed Robert and Ned to go home and call their banners, and then Aerys had a problem.
I also asked about the Darkstar who interested me a lot in AFFC. (I'm not calling him a favorite, because all of my other favorites have been killed). George said that he is from a lesser branch of the Daynes. Cousin to Edric, Arthur and Ashara. He has his own castle somewhere and does not reside at Starfall.
I was there too. It's amazing how much more popular he is now than when I saw him 5 years ago, when only about 50 people showed up. But I knew it was going to be crowded last night. However, we arrived around 7 and got seats in the back. But we had seats! :)
My wife (who is 8 months pregnant) and I dragged her out-of-town friend with us, who has never read a GRRM book. She was a good sport, as we were at the Tattered Cover for over two hours, waiting for the man, listening to the man, and then waiting to get the man to sign our books. Well worth the wait. He was obviously tired when we got up to him, but still warm and jovial. My wife insisted we get a photo with him. She's a new fan (read all three books this year) and was quite excited to meet him.
I looked for Brotherhood tee shirts, but only saw a couple near the end when I was talking to a guy who just moved from Chicago. I guess that was you, nova, with the black tee and white logo who ran up to the line to talk to two gals wearing Valar Morgis (sp?) shirts. I almost stood up before George came out to yell, "Any of the Brotherhood here" but chickened out. I figured I would then spend 10 minutes trying to explain who I was, what my old forum name was and how to pronounce my new one.
Anyway. Let's if I can remember anything not already mentioned...
Clifford the Dog
In addition to the -4 people attending a signing in St. Louis, he told a couple of other funny stories from the same tour. One was a signing at a Barnes and Noble in Dallas (?). When he arrived, the parking lot was completely full, which made him very happy. However, there actually two signings that day. Him in the front, and the "junior member" of the bookstore dressed up as Clifford the Dog in the back with a rubber stamp for a paw to sign books for the kiddies. Clifford = 100's. GRRM = 2. :) Then he said it was very hard not to dance around the stage and say, "I'm number 1" (New York Best Seller List) and that he was ready to take Clifford on.
For some reason, my favorite joke was near the beginning, when he mentioned (like nova said) his arm was about to get gangrene and fall off from signing so many books. That would be most unfortunate, because he writes all his books with --holds up his right index finger-- this finger. It gave me a funny image of him hunched over a type writer pecking a 1500 page manuscript with a single finger.
He talked about the Boba Fett syndrom. It is basically how a side non-character captures the imagination of the reader/viewer way beyond the creator's intent. It's the "cool" characters that have one line or five minutes of screen/page time that gather a cult following. He also said he gets fan letters where people say, "I love Tytos Blackwood. Can we learn more about him?" He called Oberyn Martell one of his Boba Fett characters.
He also told a Boba Fett story about his Wild Card series, but it contains spoilers. I can tell it if you all want.
Tear out the Pages
He encourages all his readers who want a complete map of his world to tear out the pages and assemble the entire map. That way you can buy more books. :) He did say a map of the free cities would be in aDwD. You all probably know that, but I didn't.
The Moving Carrot
Someone brought up the the book Dance with Dragons has been the "promised next book" for a long time. First as the end of the trilogy *cough cough*, then as book four, and now as book five. Martin says DwD is his moving carrot, dangling from a string in front of him. The book he can never reach. He wants to get there fast, though, since he doesn't want someone to steal his title. To probably repeat what others have said, he has 500 pages done with DwD, with another 500-600 pages to go. He hopes to be back in Denver next fall.
As an aspiring writer, it was both comforting and encouraging to hear his stories about "failed" signings and trepidation as he relaunched his career post-Hollywood. He also mentioned how it wasn't the advertising budget that made him a success now, but the book sellers and fans recommending the book. Well done, guys. :) Like I said earlier, the effort of the fans was very obvious in Denver. Turnout increased 50 --> 350 with a single book. Not bad. Yes, it was five years, but still only a single book. ;)
The event room was, so i was told by staff, set up with 300 seats and it was standing room only when I showed up a bit after 7:00pm. George was an amazing speaker, very funny, very warm and had the crowd laughing and cheering. He seemed to be in good spirits, though he did make mention of his hand turning gangrenous after this book tour and about to fall off.
He asked for questions and, being the uber-dorkwad that I am, I shoot my arm way up. He picked me first and I sorta went "oh fuck, he picked ME - what do i say now?" So, like asking Santa for a football I don't really want, I popped out with "Is Dunk and Egg III done"? Heh. I'm sure I was the cause of much eye rolling and internal groans - Sorry! I haven't been reading all the signing threads...oops. Anyway, he said, "no, not yet."
I don't know how he does it, but he remembered me from the KC con when I came up. I'd had "nova" written down on the little post-its they were handing out and he asked me if I wanted it signed the whole novaspud. I died a happy little geek death right there. He asked me if I was coming to LA. and I assured him I was, dying a bit more. heh.
The second time around, the place was much more cleared out so I went ahead with Sarah's suggestion that I give George a kiss from her (this is from Sarah, a BwBer, she was at your signing in LA...red hair, magnificent cleavage). Here you go, babe, I'm passing it on to you. I also told him that Relic from NYC said "hi" and he remembered our Wolfbrotherrelic, talking about what a crazy-huge signing that was. Then he mentioned the signing in the Bay area and that he was glad to see Lodey, Caress, Bronn and everyone there. (Parris, I asked George to give you a hug from me, but since he's seen thousands of dorks just like me over the last few weeks, I'm sending it to you here as well. You know, just in case.)
The U bookstore was packed, and I overheard employees saying they had never had as big a response. The crowd was more varied than I expected. Two sorority girls walked in and I thought they were lost, but they immediately picked up books, chose a spot along the shelves and stayed for GRRM's talk. The event started with the typical jokes about "Jordanizing" a series, and the 5 year wait. GRRM started up talking about turn outs at signings, and I assumed he'd go into the St.Louis -4 story, but instead he talked about a Dallas signing. He had had lackluster showings at his signings but when he got to the Dallas bookstore, the lot was full and quite a few people seemed headed into the bookstore, but it turned out there were two signings that day, George's and Clifford the Big Red Dog. Apparently "Clifford" was a big mascot suit with the most junior bookstore employee inside stamping his paw on a giant inkpad and then onto kids books. Clifford drew about 200, George got 2. This story got huge laughs. He followed up with the -4 story and this got great laughs too. The man is an amazing storyteller, he responds to the audience while he's telling a story, so it feels like it's just for you, even when you've heard the story several times on-line.
He was really engaging to listen too, and during the question period it seemed more like a discussion than a Q&A session. It made me want to hang out and discuss things with the guy. He was asked or mentioned most of the stuff that's already been covered, but one thing he talked about that I found particularly interesting was Romanticism. He said that he is a romantic, in the classical sense. He said the trouble with being a romantic is that from a very early age you keep having your face smashed into the harshness of reality. That things aren't always fair, bad things happen to good people, etc. He said it's a realists world, so romantics are burned quite often. This theme of romantic idealism conflicting with harsh reality is something he finds very dramatic and compelling, and he weaves it into his work. Specifically he mentioned that the Knight exemplifies this, as the chivalric code is one of the most idealistic out there, protection of the weak, paragon of all that is good, fighting for truth and justice. The reality was that they were people, and therefore could do horrible cruel things, rape, pillage, wanton killing, made all the more striking or horrifying because it was in complete opposition to what they were "supposed" to be. Really interesting stuff.
At the San Diego signing, I asked GRRM at the Q&A, "Besides Dany's dragons, have all the Targaryen dragons been descendants of Aegon the Conquerors three?" GRRM answered "yes".
Not much to add to the San Diego signing information, except that yes, GRRM is very tired. I got him to laugh by asking if I could scold the BwB on this board for keeping him up late (as he cited the partying until 2am as one of the contributing factors to his fatigue), but as I kept him up 'til midnight talking about the new Battlestar Galactica vs. the old, and Rocky Jones, Space Ranger when he had a 6am wakeup time for an 8am flight to Seattle, that would probably be hypocritical. smiley2.gif Mostly, dinner conversation was centered about the antics of the BwB during various Worldcons past, as he attempted to convince me I really really really needed to go to LACon.
I think one of the other reasons contributing to the fatigue is that he's used to smaller crowds showing up for his signings. My impression is that it's only now starting to dawn upon him that he's a superstar, and he's rather surprised and amused by total strangers in Italy giving him gifts (and bottles of wine) and asking to get a picture taken with him. It doesn't seem to have changed him any, though.
BTW, how I got invited to dinner essentially goes back to Wild Card days, when I gave him a folded Montroll turtle at Comic-Con, and then showing up at every SoIaF signing at the same store, and handing him an origami three-headed dragon and the like, culminating in one year giving him a boxful of origami house-sigil-animals and an origami chess set. This year, I bought my way in with this. Instructions here.
He did confirm that, yes, those shields were indeed superhero comics references. And that one of the things he regrets losing from the POV split is that he was doing point and counterpoint with the Dany and Cersei scenes--showing how each was ruling in their turn. He also seemed happy that someone out there recognized Bakkalon.
[Note: The following mail refers to information revealed in this report.]
Actually he said around the time of the Trident or just after. Something about the "Just after" comment struck me, especially as he then launched into a discussion of why Robert was the logical king if Viserys or an as yet unborn Dany were not desired as king.
[Note: The following report provides clarification and further details regarding the information reported in the previous report.]
He means to address the AFFC cliffhangers in ADWD even?
Yeah, he mentioned this today in Huntington Beach and I was pretty happy. I was talking with someone right before the signing and we were wondering why he wouldn't consider this. Seems like he is considering. However:
I'm pretty sure he said that's something he might do depending on how he finishes the original POVs he has planned. He said that he has to write at least 1100 pages and he can go up to 1300-1400 without upsetting his publishers. He has 500 pages now, so first he'll finish those and look at the page count. "If" it seems like he can be done with those in about 1000 pages, that leaves him some space for extra stuff, so he may revisit some of the cliffhangers from AFFC. About the POVs in ADDW, he said they are the ones that are missing from AFFC (Jon, Danny, Tyrion, etc..) plus Asha and Arya. He added "And possibly more from AFFC, but we'll see.)
However, hot off the press from Huntington Beach California he said at today's signing that he plans Dance with Dragons to be at least 1100 manuscript pages (at least as long as FfC and aGoT) and probably into 1400 pages (the same size about as Clash of Kings). He thinks the events in Dance with Dragons orginally slated to go into Feast for Crows will be covered at the 1000 manuscrpt page mark or so. That will leave him a "few hundred pages" (his quote) to deal with events AFTER Feast. He then will return to some of the viewpoints and events of A Feast for Crows and maybe even resolve some of the cliffhangers written there.
He is very hopeful that he can finish A Dance with Dragons next year and start signing books again this time 2006.
Also of interest is that GRRM repeats that Tyrion is his favorite character . . . but that that doesn't make him safe. He says that Tyrion has already lost a nose and that WORSE THINGS WILL BEFALL HIM in the future volumes. Not necessarily death but more pain and suffering. sigh . . . I do feel sorry for our little friend.
The conflicting reports of Dornish numbers (Tyrion's estimate vs. AFFC) are due to rumors and inflation. Highgarden remains the most powerful, with plenty of soldiers in peasants. Conversely, Winterfell is pretty spread out population-wise.
I asked him two questions while he signed my books.
A group of people who routinely student the human body would surely notice a crossdresser in their midst, right?
Some of the female members of hte BWB would like to know if there are any upcoming steamy scenes with svelte, good looking men.
(pieceing together from memory here) Maybe. Do you mean just with a good looking man? Or maybe with a pretty lady...or two? A person who attended a signing in New York asked me if there would be any boy on boy action. We'll see. I do like the steamy scenes, so if there is enough of a demand...
George also said he would only consider a ASOIF video game if it was with a stable company with honest dealings--he wouldn't just give the rights to anyone. Also, although he admitted he wasn't a gamer, he wanted the gameplay to be a good system.
"No first person shooter in Westeros where the player is a knight, and then he walks around and meets another knight and KILLS the other knight, and then he meets a maiden and rapes her...No Grand Theft Auto in Westeros."
To which a fellow boarder responded, "No 'Travels of Gregor' then?"
In an e-mail to a fan a few years back GRRM stated that Dorne could raise roughly the same number of troops as the North and the Vale. Is this still true?
Did not technically answer the question. He mentioned the size difference between the North and Dorne and talked about the climates for each. He also mentioned that Dorne likes to exaggerate their numbers a bit so as not to seem militarily weak to the other great houses. Reminded us that the men in Westeros have medieval type education. Not every man can count, not every man can read. Gave the example of different mens viewpoints regarding the same army. The first mans count would be 10,000 men. The second man seeing the same host would say it was 5,000...
When did Robert proclaim his intention to take the throne? At the outset of the war, or was it a relatively late development?
Robert proclaimed his intention to take the throne ... around the time of the Trident. Would not elaborate any further. Mentioned Robert's claim being stronger than Eddard Stark's and Jon Arryn's, the leaders of the two other great houses that spearheaded the revolution, due to blood ties to the Targaryen's.
He has had numerous offers to get a video game made based on world of Westeros. However, no company has stepped up to the plate in meeting his three major concerns. The three concerns he listed were:
1. Money. He will not give up the rights without getting some form of payment up front.
2. Size of the video game company. He will not hand over the rights to a fly by night video game company that may or may not be in business next year.
3. Type of game. He is only interested in creating an RPG type video game. Absolutely no first person shooters.
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.
We had some rather interesting discussions both of science fiction/fantasy in general, ASOIAF specifically and many other topics. Several notes:
1. George was asked "Will we find out more about Jon Snow's mother", his answer was "yes".
2. When asked if Maesters could earn multiple links in the same discipline, he said "yes".
3. WRT Dornish troop counts, that Dorne's strength in numbers varied from person to person. Tyrion might have one perspective, Daeron (the young king) another, and Oberyn Martell a third. Each POV is of course right in his/her own mind, and the reader must judge who has the best info. I'll vote for Doran Martell on this one, rather than Tyrion.
4. A very young child asked if Brienne and Tyrion would make a good couple, which George answered "no". My comment: "Can you imagine a four foot tall dwarf in bed with a 6'6" giantess?"...probably not.
In response to the why was LF fostered at Riverrun when he was a insignificant lord question: GRRM said that Petyr's father and Hoster met up during the War of the Ninepenny Kings and became friends. Apparently that was a time when a lot of people from all over the realm forged friendships. LF's dad later "cashed in" on the friendship to get LF fostered at Riverrun.
The next Dunk & Egg story will largely involve a wedding and a tournament. He hasn't decided on a title.
At half of the signings George went into a brief history of his writing career. How he published his first story in 1971 and won a lot of acclaim with short stories in the 70's. The early novels he published (Dying of the Light, Windhaven, Fevre Dream) culminating with Armageddon Rag in 1983. He said Armageddon Rag was supposed to be his breakout bestseller that would make him a household name. At the Booksmith he asked us if any of us had heard of AG and a half dozen of us raised our hands. He then said we were the only ones that bought the book. tongue.gif
After the Rag he couldn't get a bite in the novel publishing world so in desperation he went to Hollywood. There he worked on the Twilight Zone and the Beauty and the Beast, writing and producing 12(?) episodes for the latter show. That lasted a few years. Then he entered the world of developing or, as some call it, "development hell." Apparently you can make a lot of money writing and re-writing pilots and such but only the network execs get to see em and George said he needs to have an audience.
ASOIAF is born
Around the summer of 1991, George didn't really have anything on his plate so he decided to give another go at prose which he had been away from for some time. He started work on a novel called "Avalon." Sometime into his writing of that, he woke up one day with the first Bran chapter vividly in his mind. It took him two or three days to write that chapter. Then the next chapter was in his mind. And the next and so forth until he had half a dozen chapters give or take.
However, at that time, Hollywood called. A pilot he had been trying to produce, "Gateways", about alternate dimensions was going into production and George was needed. So he spent the next three years working on that while ASOIAF sat in a drawer.
The Architect and the Gardener
At the Booksmith signing, George went into how he sees a general division between writers. Some are "architects." They create languages, write character biographies and map out plot points all before ever writing a word of their series. Then there are the gardeners, of whom George is one. They plant a seed, water it and let it grow. The thing is, they usually have to water it or it dies. Unfortunately, Avalon and something George worked on right after AR died. But AGOT refused to do so. George said Tyrion kept whispering in his ear over the years and when he went back to it in 1994 it was as if he had left it for three days instead of three years.
George told the now familiar story of St. Louis a few times over the last two days. I laughed each time as he has great elivery. "Some authors say no one showed up to their signings. Well, I can beat that. I drove four people away!" lol.gif Teri Pettit covered the Big Red Dog which was also hilarious. Unfortunately, Texas is SOL unless someone can convince George's publicist it won't be like AGOT. Kepler's is one of the only bookstores George has made for all four ASOIAF books. He was surprised in 1996 to see a huge AGOT display in the window and learned later that Kepler's sold the most hardcover AGOTs of any bookstore in the nation.
NYT List and Thanks
At all the events, George mentioned debuting at #1 on the NYT list and made sure to give many thanks. There were a lot of people at Bantam and his agents. He thanked the independent bookstores and their employees who handsell ASOIAF. Finally, he thanked all of us. He said some books go on the list because they have million-dollar advertising budgets, some go on the list because a celebrity writes them and some go on because Oprah likes them. But AFFC is there because of word-of-mouth and fans like us who introduce the series to everyone we know that ever periodically opens a book.
Shout-outs to the BWB
At every signing where Lodengarl, Caress of Cersei, Skylark the Red and Bronn Stone were in the back, George would somehow make sure to mention the Brotherhood without Banners as being the largest ASOIAF fan group. Lodey even spoke a few words at Kepler's. At the Booksmith, he also mentioned Ran and Linda in connection with "compendium" type resources and getting help with details. He said he goes to Westeros.org if he really needs to remember something. He also mentioned Dajamieson as someone he can call if he's really stumped since he wins all the trivia contests.
In my arrogance, I thought I could remember most of the Q+A without writing it down so I didn't write down the questions for Stacey's and the Booksmith. Alas, when I tried to post at the Best Western I was in for a rude awakening. Chastised, I bought a notebook and wrote down the Q's for Kepler's and Bay Book.
Q: Are there logistic aides?
A: It's all in his head aside from some charts, maps and word documents.
Q: Any type of film project?
A: He doesn't really see how it could work. An old-school miniseries of Shogun type length might work but the networks aren't really into those anymore. OTOH, if someone wants to give him a "dump truck full of money" and try their hand at the series then he will consider it. His Hollywood agent is getting alot of calls recently with the dubbing of GRRM as the "American Tolkien" but George thinks they will run screaming into the hills after they get ahold of the books. George also mentioned he would pen the screenplays if the films are made after the completion of the series.
Q: Action figures?
A: Testors will have a miniature's game with three sizes. Not sure on this but I think 33mm, 54mm and 118mm.
Q: Did the publishers have a problem with killing main characters?
A: No, apparently everyone liked it. smiley2.gif He went into how he likes to play for keeps by killing someone important early on. He wants the readers to feel the suspense of the character's predicaments. He mentioned how Indiana Jones would always win even against the 47 Nazis.
Q: 5-year gap?
A: It worked for characters like Arya and Dany but not so much for the adults or those who had a lot of action coming. He was writing chapters where Jon thought, "Well, not a lot has happened these past five years, it's been kinda nice." And Cersei chapters where she thought, "Well, I've had to kill sooo many people the last five years." So he ended up dropping it. He said he would have done it sooner if he hadn't told so many fans about it. And there is no gap anymore. "If a twelve-year old has to conquer the world, then so be it."
Q: Companion Guide to ASOIAF?
A: He prefers we read the books over again rather than have a companion because they are meant to be re-read and pored over. He will not do a synopsis in the beginning of each book as he sprinkles little nuggets to the books mysteries throughout the books and if he had to do a synopsis he would either leave those out or include them and reveal them to everyone. He then mentioned the Art of ASOIAF book, the RPG and Westeros.org and the chapter summary site.
Q: Do you play the games?
A: GRRM has played the board game but not the collectible card game.
Q: Do you have a history background?
A: History was his minor in school. He likes historical fiction and ASOIAF is meant to have a HF feel but he won't write it because we all know how it will end already.
Q: Do you know the entire story already?
A: It's like a journey from the West Coast to NYC. He knows his final destination, the interstates he will take, the hotels he will stay in. But he doesn't know what detours there will be along the road, where he will eat, what hitchhikers he might want to pick up, etc.
Q: How much does a character lose through death?
A: "Death is hard." lol.gif The character gets more and more removed from his or her former life. The main thing remaining, what brings Beric back, is the sense of purpose, the mission he has yet to accomplish.
Q: Will we see Willas Tyrell?
A: Yes. (now we can all speculate how)
Q: How long until next D+E story?
A: The story is half-written. It will not be in Legends are there are no more Legends. He wants to do 9-10 D+E stories covering their life. There will be comic book covering TSS.
Q: Favorite character?
A: Tyrion - smart mouth, very driven and tormented and easy to write about. He likes all the POV characters and understands them. He thinks everyone thinks of themselves as the good guy.
Q: Which characters are based on which aspects of personality?
A: All character are based on George to some degree. The close ones are easier to write about and the different ones are harder. The writer can't say, "What would a twelve-year old girl do?" he has to say, "I am a twelve year old girl. What do I do?"
Q: Did you envision Brienne as an XXY?
A: She is supposed to be freakish. She was an answer to the bad fantasy cliche of warrior women.
Q: When creating a character, do you have their fate envisioned?
A: Yes, to major character, no to minor characters.
Q: Are we ever going to learn about Jon's mom?
A: Yes. (Asha flat out asked if Jon was the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna just to see George's reaction)
Q: How many books?
Q: What books stuck with him as a child?
A: LOTR, Robert Heinlen
I did get to ask GRRM a question, though I'm sure this isn't really news to Ran and other devotees. I asked if we'll ever get maps of the whole world, or specifically areas like the Free Cities or Asshai. He said that he adds one map per book, but didn't expand on that. (if that's interesting enough for SSM, feel free, I just assume that isn't news to you).
The Q&A in SF was rather standard stuff.
Do you plan to give more information about Joffrey's murder, regarding involvement of Margaery or whether it was the chalice or pie, or do you think we pretty much have enough to know the answer?
Maybe a tidbit here and there, but I think you have the answer.
We have never had a POV near Casterly Rock. Can you tell me more about the lions of Westeros? Are any still around?
A few survive in the outlying hills. For the most part, they have been hunted down. In antiquity, they actually made dens in the rock itself".
Anyway, George was pretty close to being on time...by the time he arrived, there seemed to be a pretty good SRO overflow crowd nestled in among the book shelves on the second floor. George was entertaining...brief remarks, most pertinent being the new (to me, I guess it was first mentioned at his signing last night) information that he just got advance word from his publisher that Feast will debut at #1 on next week's NYT bestseller list. He said the previous two books had made the list, but the highest they'd reached was #12, and he liked this position better. He told the GoT St. Louis signing story which seems to be a staple at stops on this tour, but he has a nice delivery, so it was fun to hear in person. There was a brief Q&A, maybe 5-6 questions, nothing of note (in my opinion, at least--I hate "process"" questions, like "how do you keep all the details straight"? and "what is the writing process like for you"? both of which we got variations on...oh well, people would probably find my questions boring, too. If I had a chance to get called on, I would ask "I hear Dunk & Egg III is almost done. Can you tell us 1) where it's set (e.g. do they make it up to the Wall), and 2) how long after The Sworn Sword does it take place?"" Maybe he would have refused to answer, but, no risk, no reward).
I left after the Q&A, since they were acting pretty firm about enforcing the "you must buy Feast here to get it signed" policy...that, and there looked like there were about 200 people in line, at least, and I had to get back to work. It was fun though...first time I'd seen George in person, and he presents well, meaning personable and down to earth.
George RR Martin recieved the news that on the November 27th edition of the Bestseller list, Feast For Crows will be #1. He got that news just a few hours before his booksigning in Petaluma California, which I got to attend. Good news, he looked to be in very descent shape, full of vigor, and hopefully no where near kicking the bucket without finishing A Song of Ice and Fire.
I got the chance to ask George a question tonight, and I asked him what he thought of being called the American Tolkien in Time Magazine. He said he would like to take the person home, marry them and have thier children. He said it was the best compliment he'd ever heard and he was humbled by it.
Oh, one more thing, I am traveling to Texas this morning, so I'll be brief. My father is getting married on Saturday, but we held up leaving a day so that I could go to the signing. I took 3 teenage boys with me, they were the youngest there, but they had a great time. Alot of people there felt especially priviledged to know that this was the day that George first found out that he was the top selling author in the land. You could feel the excitement,and the humility there as well. George will be signing 200 books for the Webmaster here at terry brooks site for the Signed Page when he is in Seattle, and I also got to tell him that a great guy named Andreas (King Grub here) was the person that introduced me and many others here to a Song of Ice and Fire. George's comments on being Called "the American Tolkien" were fantastic too. Anyway, I had a great time.
Martin definetly seems like an awesome guy, someone who would be great to go to the bar with and knock back a few brews. He was happy to take a picture with me and my wife and to sign our book with "To Elijah and Leila, I hope you do better than Ned and Cat!" (I had wanted Jaime and Cersei but my wife said hell would break loose if I got that)
One small note, when I got my books signed I noted that I loved all the other licensed products including the CCG and board game. I also noted how both were like the books with all the scheming, ploting, and backstabbing and joked that many a friendship were ruined because of the board game. He responded by saying he had played the board game several times and "lost every time." He also joked that there should be a rule that if you INVENTED the series a board game is based on you could never lose!
Like I said, he seemed like a simply awesome guy.
The other details including the content of his talk and the Q&A have already been reported, so I won't repeat it, except to say that I was the one to ask if he intended to issue a pronunciation guide. I've always been a stickler for pronunciation, going back to being a lifelong Tolkien fan (the Professor was extremely particular about this, of course), so I've always wanted to know how Martin himself pronounces names. But I guess it's nice to know that Martin is pretty flexible about. His exact words were "You can pronounce it however you like."
Since I got to ask my question during the Q&A, I didn't want to hog the signing time with another question, so I just thanked him for taking the time to do this, and for writing the books and for introducing me to Jack Vance. I could tell he was pretty tired from the tour, yet he was very gracious to everyone. Although, I did notice this exchange between him and someone ahead of me: He asked her how she was doing, and she said she was tired. He said "YOU'RE tired?" He left unsaid the obvious "...how do you think I feel."
All in all, a very good experience for my first signing/meeting ever, mainly because I was extremely lucky to be have been 'upgraded' as it were. I'm positive it sucked for 75% of the people who were there who couldn't sit/hear/etc.
Not to be biased as a native New Jerseyan [ok, stop with the jokes, besides GRRM's from Jersey, too], but they really should hold these things in more spacious venues - the B&N in Paramus or Clifton would be perfect - they're huge. Plus half the crowd was probably from Jersey anyway. Or at least they could have a NYC signing and Jersey signing. I guess the organizers just didn't expect the crowd they got, but how could they not?? He's a best-seller and this was basically the only signing in the NE corridor. Ah well, I can't imagine what time he left the place, there were probably about 400-500 people there when I left. Cheers to him for putting up with it - it's gotta be harder on him than us.
I thought the funniest part was when the Hodor POV question was asked. Although a wasted question, it was still hilarious when he again mocked his editor by wondering what she would think if he had 27 pages of "Hodor hodor hodor hodor..." That drew a big laugh. (For the sticklers, btw, it's pronounced HOE-door.) Also his pronunciation of Brienne threw me, too. BREE-eh-knee, accent on the 1st syl. Always thought it was bree-EN. Well, since he gave us license to pronounce how we like, maybe I'll go with my original.
I do wish he would have read. At first they said he was doing a reading, but then he didn't do it. Maybe because the signing was so big they realized he wouldn't have time to both read and sign, or maybe he's just exhausted from the tour - I don't know. Either way, I'm glad I got to see him and when he signed I asked him a question about whether he originally intended for the theme of religious fanaticism to become so prominant in the story or if that was partially informed by our real-world events of the last five years. He said that no, it was really pretty much his intention and that Melisandra was kind of the beginning of that. It's totally fitting for the setting, though. The Middle Ages were all about Crusades, Jihads and a lot of general religiously induced lunacy. If anything, Martin's inclusion of these elements were maybe more prescient about our world than the result of what's going on in our world.
P.S. - I didn't think he would sign so many books, otherwise I would have brought more. I only brought AFFC and my old, 1977 hardcover edition of "Dying of the Light." He kind of liked seeing the old book and commented about it.
That was fun even if it was very hot and he did not read.
I got there around 12:20 and much to my surprise noone else was there so I was first in line to get my wristband (there were maybe 7 people in line when they started giving them out at 1). When I returned around 5 they still had wristbands which shocked me and made me rue giving up my lunch to go down there.
Whoever thought that having this at the Astor Place B&N was a good idea needs to not be in charge of picking locations in NYC any more. The second level was jammed with people and it was so hot. The second level is narrow and long and while there were speakers I'd imagine it was very difficult to hear what he was saying if you were not seated.
I even got to ask a question. Apparently we will not be getting a Hodor POV chapter any time soon.
When I left the line went all the way down to the first level and almost out the door into a rainy night. I don't want to think what time George will get to leave.
I just got back from George R.R. Martin's New York City signing. I got there at about six for a seven o'clock event, and the 150 bracelets that allowed you to get a seat were already gone. It was packed! The Astor Place B&N is not a large space so it got hot and yucky. I stood for like an hour in the back until the lady running the show asked people to raise there hands if there were free seats that bracelet people weren't taking so I managed to get up front! Score!
George didn't come out until about 7:05 or so, to loud applause. He talked to some people before they gave the official introduction and then he got up. He said that his flight from Michigan had left without him this morning so he didn't think he'd get there. But he did hurrah!
He was pleased with the turnout and told the -4 signing story. He spoke about why the five year gap didn't work and why this book took so long. He talked about how he liked to end books with stopping points and that's why he didn't just cut the thing in half.
Then people asked questions. Someone asked if Syrio was dead. And he said to "draw your own conclusions" based on the fact that his sword was broken, etc, which I took to mean yes. Someone asked if he had to go back and change things so information in ADWD wasn't revealed in AFFC and he said not really but he did do some retouching in spots.
Someone asked about R+L=J and if he would change the story because everyone seems to be on to that. I thought it was interesting that he didn't restate the part about Rheager/Lyanna when he repeated the question so everyone to hear. He restated it as, would you change something because people online have theories (ie to make them be wrong). And he asked how many people talked on internet boards and only a few people raised their hands, so he pointed out that theories that are rampant on the internet aren't known by everyone.
He also says he doesn't read the online posting boards so he doesn't see the theories unless someone emails it to him.
Someone asked if he forgets details and has to look them up in the old books. He said yes. He mentioned that people have pointed out to him that his horses tend to switch genders and he said mocked his editor for not catching these sex changing horses.
Someone asked about his future plans and he said to collect social security. Basically he wouldn't commit but did say he wanted to write different stuff.
My favorite question was when someone asked if he would consider writing a pronunciation guide to the series. He laughed and said no because he doesn't really know how to pronounce them himself. He did say that the Audio Books do have errors in pronunciation. (Petyr is just Peter, for example.)
Some he did say during the course of the evening:
Cersei = Sir-say
Jaime = Jamie (I think that was obvious but just in case)
Sansa = Sahn-sa
Tyrion = Tear-ion
Brienne = BriennE (pronounced long e at the end there)
Arya = Ar-Ya (Ex, Are ya?)
Daenerys = Dane-err-is
That was the end of the questions, there were a lot more people with their hands up but he couldn't accomodate them all.
I did get to ask him a question when I went up to have my book signed. The guy before me had the British AFFC and he asked the guy if he had finished and the guy said no. So I spoke up and said I had finished it. And he was like, "yeah?" and I said I had lots of questions but I couldn't ask without spoiling people who just got it today.
So I asked if there would be any new POV characters in A Dance With Dragons and he said he hadn't really sat down to deal with that yet, but that the way he plans it now (which could change) he does hope to include one new POV character in ADWD.
I can't remember who wanted the question asked, but I asked about the gold cloaks. My phrase and his answers as best I can remember:
Q: What were the gold cloaks called before Robert's Rebellion?
A: Probably gold cloaks.
Q: Did they still wear gold or some other color?
A: Still gold and black.
After dinner we went straight to the store, arriving there about half an hour early. It was already standing rooming only by then even in a store that had a decent sized events area. The enthusiasm was palpable. By the time they introduced George, which happened 10 or 15 minutes latter than announced, it was packed shoulder to shoulder in any area that had any kind of visiblity of where George was going to be speaking from. After a brief introduction by a staff member of the store (who coincidently was the person who convinced me to read AGoT way back 7 or so years ago) George spoke for about 30 minutes or so. He talked some about his history with the Madison area, having come up here back in his college days at Northwestern for away football bames against UW and latter attending WisCon and other events. He then went through the history of the develpment of AFfC a story that is so very familiar to us on these boards.
He seems very confident that the the PoV split while, not ideal, was the best way to address the problems he was dealing with. There was then about a 15 minute question and answer period. All of the questions that were asked were of a more general sort, about his writing process and the like. The one thing I did take note of, though I'm sure he's said this before, is that he admits ,that while he still intends to finish in 7 books, it may not be possible to do so. After the they cut off the questions the signing started, which was still going strong ( and probably would for quite a while) by the time we got out of there. I did get my copy of Feast signed but not able to do much more than say hi to the man and introduce him to my eldest daugther, who had waited in line about as patiently as a 6 year old could just to meet him.
What really impressed me was not only how many people were there, and there were a lot, but also how really excited everyone was both about George and about the book. Having worked for that border's years ago, when they were in a smaller location half a block down, I knew this by a far exceded the turn out for any event I had worked there. Speaking to the staff, some of who are still around from back then, the turnout they had for this is matched only by the most important 2 or 3 mainstream writers they had in. At least at that location Feast has been selling very, very well. It made me feel very, very positive about the future of the series in terms of exposer and publicity. This kind of response, if its any indication of what's out there, has to be getting the attention of a lot of people in the industry.
After dinner, we headed over to the bookstore. We had trouble finding parking. We ended up parking in the lot for the Walgreen's that's two store over.
By the time we got to the bookstore, there was already a crowd. All the seats were taken and the standing area right next to the reading area was packed already. We stood at the outskirt and just sort of chilled. More book talk, yay, geeks are us.
Then Martin was introduced and then he spoke about the series and the latest book. Most of what he said has been reported elsewhere, like the -4 attendance for his first book tour in St. Louis, so I won't repeat it here. But a couple of added highlight:
In speaking on the 5 year time it took (Martin emphasized that it's only 3 years late, since he is allowed to have 2 years to write the book) to write the book, he mentioned the fact that he had to scrap the idea of a 5 year break in the story line. He mentioned that it works really well for the children, but not so much of the adult. He said that when he was trying to write, he'd ended up with something like:
Jon is at the Wall, and he thought to himself, "Boy, has it been a quiet 5 years. Nothing much happened. We thought that there was a big threat, but oh well, it wasn't that urgent."
So that didn't work, so he toyed with doing things in flashbacks, like:
A character sat and thought: "Jeez, it sure has been an eventful five years! Last year, there was this huge war and lots of people died. Then the year before, I was married and the wedding was something else all together. Then the year before that, there was this huge thing over in the Free Cities. And then, the year before THAT, there's this..."
So that didn't work, either. The rest of the story you all know.
After speaking, Martin allowed for some questions. Some of them are repeated (wish they all had read OUR board. tongue.gif). Some of the non-redundant ones are reported here:
Q: Do you keep an appendix for all the characters and events to help you keep track of the complicated plot and the large cast of characters?
A: Well yes, and I published the Appendix in the books. There are some that I haven't published obviously, and they never will be. But not everything has been written our or typed up. Most of the notes are in my head. The parts of the brain that normal people use for daily life I use for Westeros. I will probably forget your name in 5 minutes, but I'll know the heraldry of the knights.
Q: The maps in the books are not very accurate. Is that deliberate?
A: If you think about the maps from the medieval time, they were not very accurate either. Someone in France would know France and England very well, and they would know that Spain is down there somewhere, but outside of that, they only had a fuzzy idea. It's like the New Yorker cartoon where they ask someone from New York city to draw a map, and they'll have Broadway, and the 7th, and the 8th, and then New Jersey, and then California. This is true for the characters in the books as well. If they only have a fuzzy idea about the world, then so should the readers. I try to include a new map in every book. There'll be a new map for the Free Cities in the next book, and in this one we have a more detailed map of the Iron Isles.
Q: How much planning did you have before starting to write this series and how much planning goes into each book?
A: I didn't plan to write this series at all. At the time, I was writing for a TV show and I thought that it has been a few years since I wrote a novel, so I should do one. I started on a project called Avalon, which is a SF series based on the futuristic world I created with a few other short stories like Tuf Voyage and Dying of the Light. (Then I missed the next part because someone else's cell phone rang!). I don't know where the story came from, maybe there's a psychological thing with the ego and the super-ego and the id, who the hell knows, but the story came from somewhere within me.
Q: (Didn't quite catch all the question, but it's about what he plans on doing with the series after the end.)
A: I'm still doing Dunk and Egg stories. My plan is to have 9 of them, following them through their lives. At the end there will probably a collection to put them into a book, or maybe two books.
Q: So when you write and you let other people read the book, do you change stuff from their feedback?
A: Other people read the book? What do you mean?
Q: Well, you know, like other people read the books.... *stuttering silence*
A: No, nobody reads the book while I'm writing it. I may stand here appearing to be very sure of myself, but in reality, I'm riddled with doubts. This is especially true during the writing process. I make mistakes along the way. I think all writers probably have this thing about them, that there's a creative side and a critical side. Maybe it's a left-brain right-brain thing or maybe it's the ego and super-ego thing, but I think a lot of authors, especially beginning authors, have a very strong Critical Side. They would sit down and they would write a sentence. Then the Critical Side would say. "that's no good." So they'd erase and write another sentence, then the Critical Side would say "That's not as good as Tolstoy." So you just have to shove that Critical side away and lock it in a closet in the beginning and let your creative side come out first. For instance, when I was writing the original prologue, it was going to contain multiple shorter POVs. Then my critical side took a look and said, you know, it's 200 pages into the book before your reader sees a familiar character... that's not going to work. Or when I was writing a five-year gap in the story, my critical finally said: That's a stupid idea. Why on earth did you do it?!
I didn't get to ask any of the questions from the board during the Q&A because it was crowded and we were standing way back. But I got a chance to ask them with the help of the BwBers because I assigned each of us one question to ask while waiting for Martin to sign our books. Hehehe. I'm smaht like dat.
Q: Will there be a new POV in the next book that we haven't seen before?
A: There might be one.
Q: Was Sandor part of Tywin's Party at the sack of King's Landing?
Q: Was the Vulture King a Blackmont? If not, what House did he belong to?
A: Not necessarily. There are several culture kings and they set up a place in the mountains. One of them might have been Blackmont, but not all of them.
Q: What is House Blackfyre's motto?
A: Oh, I don't know. I haven't thought one up yet.
By the way, I mentioned that these questions were mostly from Ran, and Martin sort of rolled his eyes and groaned. Heh.
After the signing, we ended up calling a night of it, so we were party-poopers and no party was had. Alas. Otherwise, it was a great experience and I was glad to be able to see everyone again and to meet Ser Arthur Dayne.
I'm surprised noone has posted about it yet considering the excellent turnout. There were at least 200 people there, the person from Barnes and Noble in charge of public relations was quite pleased and called it his biggest turnout yet.
The signing was at 7 with tickets being distributed at 5. I showed up at 3:30 and bought the book then sat in the cafe to wait. When I bought the bok the cashier asked if I was coming back for the signing at 7. I told her I was planning to stay in the store until then. She expressed some doubt about how many people show up for book signings and I sort of chuckled and told her I would be very surprised if it was a bad turnout. At about ten to five they started giving out tickets in groups of 30. I'd estimate 20-30 people were in line when they started giving out tickets. I sat in the cafe again (I have a broken collarbone and can't stand for long periods of time or I start to ache). About 20 minutes later I noticed the line was about 20-30 people deep still so I got a chair while I could. I'd say by 6:00 90% of the chairs were taken. By the time GRRM arrived, it was beyond SRO with people standing aisles away and taking down the section signs to see better.
GRRM was a little late, he went to the wrong store at first. He arrived, told the story about -4 people, how his book was three years late, how he had too many manuscript pages, split the book, and is 40-50% done with aDwD. He then opened it up to questions. He was being careful not to spoil the series for anyone in the audience who hadn't read it yet and noone asked any in-depth questions about the series, which was kind of nice, actually.
Someone asked about "Beauty and the Beast" on DVD and he said he didn't know why it wasn't out and was surprised that "The Twilight Zone Revival" was out first since it got worse ratings. He said B&B was out on lasrdisc and that may have caused some delays for the DVD release.
My favorite question of the evening was when someone asked him if he found it difficult to kill his characters. He said the Red Wedding was the hardest scene for him to write and he actually finished the book before going back to fill in that scene. He feels character deaths are important so that when a hero is surrounded by armed men, you can't be secure in the knowledge that he will escape. He wants us to feel the peril his characters are feeling. He wants us to be hungry when we read about eating, be horrified when we read about battles and gore, be
Someone asked how he goes about writing, or something like that. He explained that he had been writing since he was a boy in the projects and that the stories are just inside him and he has a desire to get them on paper to share. He related a dinner he had with other authors (I'm sorry, I forget who) in which one said he wished he could win $10 million so he could stop witing and he was asked "What if you were given $10 mill with the requirement you never write again". He replied that he couldn't do it. That is how GRRM feels true writers are.
Anyway, the final turnout was definitely >150 (the PR manager said they were getting out group 6 of the tickets - 30 people/group) but I'd imagine it was >180 when all was said and done. GRRM signed in groups of 3 books, I think he was briefed on that by the PR manager since other signings were 5.
I just remembered that someone at the back of the room asked "Who can we expect to live through the series?" GRRM misheard this as "How many"... His answer was "I don't know. 6, 4, 7? 7 has been a good number so far." He did say that he really didn't know "how many" nor did he answer "who" but I doubt he would have anyway.
He also mentioned there were 19 POVs. I think this number was for the book that was AFfC but got broken in twain. He pointed out that in the previous books, one POV character died and was replaced by two new POV characters... no word on if this rule still holds (if we were at 10, 9 would have to die, I suppose).
I was at the Ann Arbor signing while I was there I asked George if a year was a year and George said that a year was indeed a year. And that the seasons have to do with the tilt of the axis and not the length of the year. I do not know why I asked it this way I wish I worded it slightly differently. I wished I asked him if a year was 365 days.
Today, George R.R. Martin was in Ann Arbor, signing copies of "Feast for Crows." I'd picked it up fifteen minutes before the signing, and we ended up near the back of the line. A very, very long line. The signing started around 7; when we got up to get our books signed, the store was making its 10:45 closing announcements.
"Your hand must be tired," I said. "No," he responded cheerfully. "Well, maybe a little. But your feet must be more tired, standing all this time."
"Maybe a little," I agreed, "But I could read while I was waiting, so it wasn't so bad."
"Ah," he said, switching to my next book, "You've started the book already?"
"Yes. I have to say, though, as soon as I started reading about someone who seems nice and sweet and had never appeared in the books before, I knew that things weren't going to turn out well."
He chortled. "I know. I'm sorry. I'm evil."
"You are evil, but you shouldn't be sorry. I love it."
In any event, I'm impressed that he was so nice and gracious after so long a time signing.
While driving in, there was unnaturally bad traffic for the couple of miles from the freeway to the campus area. We're talking worse than rush hour bad traffic. We're talking as bad as a UM home football game traffic. We're talking bumper to bumper here. My husband was teasing me and saying that all of these people were heading to Borders for the Martin reading. As we got closer to the bookstore, and it became clear that everyone was heading to the Martin signing, it wasn't funny any more.
At Borders they gave out colored tickets depending on what time you arrived. There were hundreds and hundreds of people there. I have no idea how many hundreds, as so many people were everywhere, not only in the open area where they had set up chairs for the reading (the chairs were all filled and so was the standing space) but all of the shelving units in that part of the store, including those behind the podium, were all filled with people. I stood behind a shelving unit filled with dvd's and peeked over the top to be able to see GRRM. Pretty much the whole second floor of a building that takes up most of a city block was filled with people.
Martin was very surprised to see so many people. He was surprised that he was completely encircled. "There are so many of you and you are all around me!" His talk was warm and funny. He gestures a lot with his hands. He talked about previous trips to Ann Arbor when he was a college student at Northwestern and he would come over for football games. He talked about when he started out as a writer he couldn't pay his bills on what he made with his pen, so he also had a job running chess tournaments, and Ann Arbor was one of his regular stops.
In reaction to the large crowd, he told a funny story about how the smallest crowd he ever had at a signing was -4 (that's right; negative four) in downtown St. Louis for A Game of Thrones.
He spoke of how he thinks of A Song of Ice and Fire as a symphony with the individual books as the movements and the characters as the instruments.
He spoke of the notorious originally planned "five year gap" and why he had to scrap it, and restart the book, and how that delayed the book. He spoke of why the book had to be split into two. If anyone is interested, ask, and I will share his answers. He said that he hopes to be back in Ann Arbor this time next year to do a signing for A Dance with Dragons, and that he hopes to be done with the series in about six years and a total of seven books (four of the seven are now out and he is well on his way with the fifth), but he admitted it might take more than six years. He would like to write some science fiction and horror again someday, after he finishes this series.
He took questions from the audience.
He does not see them ever being able to make a movie, though he said he would consider it for a large dumptruck filled with money (that was a joke). He pointed out that LOTR in its entirety is shorter than ASOS alone. If LOTR took three long movies to film, it would take more and longer movies for ASOIAF. He says that a miniseries is also unlikely, due to the length of the material, as these days many miniseries are only four hours long.
He loves all of his characters, including the bad guys, but his favorite character to write is Tyrion, as he is witty and active and emotionally tortured. His least favorite to write is Bran, as he is the youngest so you have to look at every word to see if an eight year old would know it and every situation to try to see it as an eight year old would understand it, he is crippled and therefore more reactive than active, and his chapters have the most magic thus far. Martin compared magic in fantasy novels to anchovies on pizza. A little adds flavor and spice, too much can overwhelm it.
When he writes he will write chunks for one character at a time. Perhaps he will write 2-3 Jon chapters, then will find something he has to write in another character's POV to go with what he just wrote for Jon, so then he will work on a couple of that character's chapters. And when he puts them together in the books, he will often change their order several times before he finds the optimum order, which will make him do minor rewrites to fit them in together just right.
Someone asked why the seasons are so messed up. Martin said he couldn't give an answer necause that would be telling! He did say that there would eventually be an answer in one of the books, and the answer would be a fantasy (as opposed to a science fiction/science based) answer.
He has a good chunk (I seem to remember over 500 pages) done in A Dance with Dragons and he has part of a third Dunk & Egg novella also finished.
Then came the two hour wait (I was in the middle color of the five colors used; some people had a considerably longer wait) to get my copy autographed. People had come from all over the place to get to this signing. It was interesting talking to them in line. It was also torture, as the line snaked through the music section, and I saw many jazz and classical CD's I would have liked to have looked at more closely. When I finally got up to the table, Martin was very warm and friendly and happy. I am a very shy person but he put me to ease right away.
So I just got back from getting A Feast For Crows and my Game of Thrones RPG signed. George was looking very good despite all his traveling.
The Border's in Ann Arbor was packed. In fact, George seemed a bit overwhelmed by the number of people who were there. I personally was unable to find anyone of the Brotherhood or even people I'd planned to meet who aren't members of the Brotherhood. Sorry to miss you guys!
George began by talking about how pleased he was to see so many people there. He told a story about a signing he gave in St. Louis for A Game of Thrones. Evidently he'd been sent to St. Louis to sign during Archon. Which was ironic, because that's a con he's visited many times and enjoys quite a bit. But it's actually about 30 miles outside of St. Louis in Illinois (and coincidentally, the first Con I met George at, as well as got my introduction to the BwB care of Trebla, Terra, Hauberk, and Gareth).
So he was set up to sign books in downtown St. Louis on Saturday night. Come to find out, however, the Guest of Honor at Archon that year was an author "you might have all heard of, Ray Bradbury. And Bradbury had brought along a friend of his some of you also might have heard of, Harry Harrison. Both of whom were signing books Saturday night."
So there's George, at this very liberal, feminist bookstore in downtown St. Louis on the one night of the year that the science fiction and fantasy community are all in Illinois 30 miles away. He walks into the store and is taken to the section where he's supposed to be doing his reading. It's a cafe, of course, and there are four people sitting in the cafe, drinking their cappuchinos. They waited for a while to see if anyone else would show up, and George decided he's not too concerned; he know's it's Archon that weekend and he's read to four people before. No problem. So the store manager gets up to the podium and does a nice little introduction. At this point all four people in the cafe stand up with their cappuchinos and take them to drink on the sidewalk outside.
That's how George ended up giving a signing to -4 people at a bookstore.
It was a great story and everybody really enjoyed it. George then talked about visiting Ann Arbor in his college days and he told the story of the five year skip of A Feast for Crows. Nothing new there.
Because there were so many people, he then opened the floor for a few questions. The first one was about the movie possibilities, disappointingly. No new info there. Then the question about his favorite character: Tyrion. His most difficult to write character he explained at the same time: Bran. Someone asked about magic, and he told the Anchovies on the Pizza story per the other thread in this forum.
Someone did ask about Dunk and Egg before I got a chance too. He said the next short story is about half done. Another question about favorite characters from a personality, non-writer perspective. He said he loved them all.
Then there was pretty much the signing. I got in pretty quickly and while Geroge was signing I asked if he had a publisher for the next Dunk and Egg story. George said he doesn't yet, as the story isn't finished yet and he's still looking around for the best presentation and some contractual agreements and the like. There were so many people in the bookstore, and he had promised to sign for everybody, that I didn't ask anymore questions. Introduced him to someone I was with and he was very gracious, and then I wished him a good night, shook his hand, and that was about it.
Got the pleasure of meeting Martin tonight at Books & Co. here in Dayton, Ohio. Great night, George was extremely gracious toward his fans and a fairly good speaker. During the formal Q&A and during the signings I asked the following questions:
I asked George about a title for the seventh book and he said that The Winds of Winter could work for 6 or 7 and he doesn't have a new title yet that he likes (and he's not that fond of TWoW).
Asked if he'll ever tell which character is Dunk's descendent. Got a rather acerbic, "I gave a pretty strong hint in the new book," to which I sheepishly replied "Yea, but I read it real fast, in three days."" I told him I suspected Brienne but thought that she was too obvious and that he'd be more subtle than that and he said, "You think?" Coy bastard.
Asked him how he was going to handle the sheer # of the POVs in the sixth book when all these separate narrative threads come back together and he answered, "I'm going to kill a lot of them." The crowd laughed so hard they started applauding his answer.
Martin was asked about favorite and least favorite POVs to write and gave his usual Tyrion for the former and the children for the latter. Children are hard to write since he hasn't been one for decades and doesn't have a youngster readily available to take advantage of.
The highlight of the night was George coming over after finishing off the 2-hour line of signings to chat it up for 15-20 minutes with the three of us (me, my friend, and a co-worker I met there whom I had no idea was also a Martin fan). Kinda amusing to hear about his skinny dipping days back in the '70s at hotels during conventions, though George isn't the most svelte of men and readily acknowledges his physique's shortcomings. I asked George about royalties and he said he pulls about 10% of the hardcover's price, but only after his advance has been covered. I asked if he's ready to pull an "Asimov" and go with a $1 advance and he said he's not quite ready to do that, which surprised me considering the popularity of these books.
There was no reading, although he did talk for quite a bit (better part of an hour, I think, but I wasn't watching the clock) before he started signing. Seems like a real interesting person. Nothing really new discussed as far as Ice and Fire goes. Although there were a couple of interesting points I took notice of. (Some of this was probably known before, just not by me.)
Dunk and Egg: IIRC, he said he already has contracted with some outlet for the publishing of Dunk and Egg #3. He currently has in mind about 9 D&E stories, following them throughout their entire lives. Eventually he plans to plublish a compilation book(s) containing all D&E stories. (Said it would probably be 3 novels.)
DwD: I was suprised to hear how much work he still has ahead on DwD. He said he has approximately 500-600 manuscript pages, and intends to have 1100-1200 when finished. So, he's somewhere around %50 done, but he thinks it should all go very quickly. (And obviously he won't touch it until at least next month, since he's touring all this month.) Although he repeatily stated that he is not making any promises, and won't swear anything in blood, his goal is to have DwD out by next Christmas.
Names: The only surprise I had on name pronounciation was Brianne. I had always asuumed that it was pronounced like "Bree ann". There was once when Martin mentioned her, and I'm 99% sure he prounced it "Bree ann ee" (Note the prounced "E" at the end.) This may even be a common pronounciation, but it just suprised me.
Obviously I could have hear incorrectly, but here is what I heard. Three syllables. Frist one stressed, and rymes with "knee". Second sylable was very short, but sounded like "ann", and then the final e again would be sound as in "knee". So to me, it sounded basically like "BREE annie". Does that make a little more sense?
Also at this signing was the first time I had actually seen the other hardback books with the new covers. (I had previously seen the new paperbacks.) So I purchased GoT and SoS with the new covers, and got them signed as well. Unfortunately, when they ordered the new CoK, they were sent the old covers, so I still need to get my hands on one of those, if anyone sees them anywhere, let me know. Last time I check on Amazon, they were still showing the old cover for the hardback.
One other item I just remembered that caught my attention. George mentioned (I think even a couple of times), how he really hopes to try and keep the series to 7 books now, but he's not going to make any promises. Obviously I can understand, after everything that has happened, him not wanting to make any guarrantees, but the statement, and the way he said it, just struck me as odd. It just seemed that his resolve too keep the series from growing too large is quickly disolving. I would not be surpised at all to see it suprise 7 books.
So sorry for the scattered info. I can't remember right now about the outlet for the 3rd D&E story. I seem to recall him either mentioning that he was in talks with, or now in contract with someone for publication. He definately mentioned that the Legends series was now defunct, and there was no possibility of a Legends 3.
Another tidbit that I just remembered. Someone asked about the possibility of a compainion book for the ASoIaF world. GRRM mentioned that there wasn't one now. He said your best bet for now was the RPG manual, of which he showed a copy of the deluxe edition (which looked very nice). He talked about it for a few minutes, and said that even if you were not a gamer, you could simply ignore the game rules in the book and it made for very nice companion book, or compedium, if you will. He did specifically mention the possibilty of some type of companion book or compendium a couple of years down the road.
GRRM also had a quote about pizza / magic that was quite amusing. George talked about growning up in NJ, and how Pizza was the nice thin kind. Nice thin crust with cheese on it, and mabey a little pepperoni. Good stuff. Then he moved to Chicago (was it for school, mabey?). Anyhow, he talked about how there he was introduced to the pan style pizza. He said in particular, some of his running mates like "garbage pizza", which was basically a pizza with everything you could think of thrown on it. So one day he decided to try some garbage pizza. And it has a little anchovie on it. Hmm... he says... never had an anchovie. So he tries it. "Man that's good!". So, some days later, he is sitting around, studying or some such. Hmmm... a pie would be real good right about now, he thinks. So, remember how good that anchovie was, he orders up an anchovie pizza. Piled high, and covered with nothing but anchovies. Well, needless to say, it was the most discusting thing he ever ate. So, his conclusion was, that Magic is a log like Anchovies. A little bit will go a long way in making something interesting, while a lot will ruin something good.
Just a quick note from the Nashville book signing on November 8, 2005. The Q and A didn't really cover anything that I hadn't already seen the answer to, so I'll skip it - except to say that George was a remarkably nice guy. When it came our turn in line, I presented, among other things, my copy of The Armageddon Rag for signing. I explained that I had no dust jacket for it because, shamefully, I had bought it used - not shamefully for me (it was out of print, I had to find it someway), but shamefully that somebody had sold such a wonderful book. George responded that it was the book that had almost killed his career. He went on to say that he's been trying to get it reprinted for ages, but the big hangup is getting the rights to all the rock lyrics he quoted. He emphatically told us he was NEVER going to quote rock music again. Just thought I'd pass along that tidbit for those, like me, who are fans of some of his older works.
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.
[Note: This interview is provided through the Internet Archive]
[Note: The following information was sent to Amok for his contribution to the Fantasy Flight Games artbook.]
These are all Targaryens, of course, so there should be a strong family resemblence from portrait to portrait. All of them (except as noted) will have the purple eyes and silver-gold hair for which House Targaryen is noted. All of them should be wearing crowns... the same crown in many of the pix, though it will change once or twice along the way, as noted.
The hard part will be making each of the kings an individual, despite the similarities, and evoking each one's character through facial features, pose, clothing, background, and other elements in the portrait.
Here's the lineup:
AEGON I. Aegon the Conquerer. The prototypical Targaryen. A warrior, tall, powerful, broad shouldered. Very charismatic and commanding. Should be shown in his battle armor, perhaps a shirt of black scales, greaves, gauntlets, a flowing cloak. His sword in hand (Blackfyre, a Valyrian steel blade). His hair cut short, no longer than the bottom of his ears. His crown is a simple circle of Valyrian steel set with big square-cut rubies.
AENYS I. A weakling. As tall as his father Aegon, but softer looking. Slender, weedy, dreamy. Paler eyes than Aegon, more lilac than purple. His hair curled and perfumed, all in ringlets, falling to his shoulders. A silky beard and mustache, sort of a "Three Musketeers" look, coming to a point. Dressed in velvet robes, the same lilac as his eyes, with cloth-of-gold lining and an ermine collar. Gold rings and gemstones on long, slim fingers. A different crown; this one is all gold, much larger and more elaborate. No armor. Instead of a sword, he holds a wine cup in the portrait: gold, encrusted with gems. His smile should be somehow tenuous, nervous, anxious to please.
MAEGOR I. Maegor the Cruel. Another warrior. A big man, even taller than his father Aegon, bull-like, heavy shoulders, thick neck, huge arms. On the heavy side, but more massive and square than fat. Nothing soft about him. Short hair, short beard that follows the jawline. Angry, suspicious eyes, scowling mouth. Just looking at him, you know this man is hard and brutal. No wine cup here; it's the sword again. His armor is more elaborate than Aegon's. Instead of a shirt of scale, he wears a breastplate, covered by a surcoat that displays the Targaryen three-headed dragon, red on black. He looks as though he has just come from battle, and his armor and cloak show dints, tears, bloodstains. He wears Aegon's steel-and-ruby crown, not Aenys's elaborate one.
JAEHAERYS I. The Old King. The Conciliator. Jaehaerys reigned for fifty-five years. Let's show him late in his reign as an old man, as that is how he is best remembered. Wise and dignified. Despite his years, still unstooped, but his face and hands are wrinkled, and his long white beard reaches to his waist. Dressed in flowing robes of black and gold. His crown is a simple gold band set with seven gemstones of different colors. In his hands, instead of sword or wine cup, he holds a quill pen for writing.
VISERYS I. A plump and pleasant king, raised during a time of peace and plenty. Round-faced, smiling, jolly. In his forties. No beard, but a bushy silver-gold mustache. Wearing the Jaehaerys crown, with the seven stones. Looks as though he would be great fun at a party, always telling jokes. Clad in silk brocade, dark purple.
AEGON II. A strong resemblence to his father, Viserys, but in him the playful look has been replaced by a certain petulance. A sullen look to the eyes, a pouty mouth. Holds a dagger in his hand, testing the point against his finger. Clad in armor, but he does not look like a warrior. No beard, and only a faint wispy hint of a mustache. Wears the steel-and-ruby crown of Aegon the Conquerer.
AEGON III. The Dragonbane. Clad all in black, even to his gloves. A three-headed dragon on a golden chain around his neck. Pale, lean, unsmiling. A very somber look. He looks sad, marked by the grief he carries with him. It is hard to picture him smiling. A short beard, but no mustache. His crown is a slender gold band, no ornament.
DAERON I. The Young Dragon. Only fourteen when he ascended to the throne. A warrior and conquerer. Young, clean-shaved, very handsome, long hair. Clad in an elaborate suit of gold-and-black plate, with his sword in his hand. Smiling, self-confident, very charismatic. The Alexander the Great of Westeros. He should probably be shown outdoors, with the red mountains of Dorne in the background, and his army, horses, tents, etc. Wears the Aegon crown, the steel and rubies.
BAELOR I. Baelor the Blessed. Baelor the Beloved. The septon king. No sword or armor here, only a septon's white robes tied off with a rope belt. A young man, in his early twenties, but very thin (from repeated fasts) and frail looking, with a gentle, almost beatific smile (think Jesus). One hand raised in blessing, the other holding a holy book (black leather, with a seven-pointed star stamped on the cover in gold leaf). His long hair and beard remind one of Jesus too, although Baelor's are the typical Targaryen silver-gold color. Wears a crown of flowers and vines.
VISERYS II. Came to the throne quite late, when he was in his fifties. Clean-shaved, with long hair, a prominent nose, bushy eyebrows, a shrewd and calculating look about his mouth and eyes. Coins in his hand. He wears the simple crown of Aegon III Dragonbane.
AEGON IV. Aegon the Unworthy. He began his realm when he was young and handsome, and ended it old and corrupt. To provide some variety in the portraits, let us go with the older Aegon. By the end he was bloated, fat, corrupt. His eyes almost lost in the fat of his face, his legs too weak to support his belly, his mouth small and mean. His clothing should be silk and satin, bright and rich, and he would have lots of gold and gemstones about him; a chain, rings, etc. A big beard, meant to help hide his round cheeks and double chin (it doesn't). The Henry VIII of Westeros. His crown is a new one, huge and heavy, red gold, each of its points a dragon's head with gemstone eyes.
DAERON II. Daeron the Good. A thoughtful face, pale, dignified, kindly Not a warrior by any means; round-shouldered, with thin legs and a small pot belly. His face has a certain quiet strength, though, and his eyes are clear and full of resolve. In his forties. In his hands is a parchment treaty. Wears his father's elaborate dragon crown.
AERYS I. Bookish. Spindly and stooped, his robes rich and elaborate but soiled, as if he has forgotten to change them. Long straight hair, long thin face, long thin mustache, long pointed beard. In his hand is an old scroll, and other books and scrolls are visible in the portrait. His eyes red-rimmed from reading. The dragon crown is atop a pile of books, as if he has forgotten to put it on.
MAEKAR I. There's an excellent depiction of a younger Maekar in THE HEDGE KNIGHT graphic novel. As king, Maekar would look much the same, only older. A certain weariness about him, but strength as well. Armored, with a spiked mace in his hand (blood on one of the spikes). His crown is black iron and red gold, sharply pointed. His surcoat shows his personal arms; the Targaryen three-headed dragon, four times (two above, two below).
AEGON V. Aegon the Unlikely. Egg of THE HEDGE KNIGHT, grown up. Show him as a man in his thirties, with his hair falling to his collar. Tall, slender, a slight smile. Large, thoughtful eyes, very deep purple. His hand resting on a map of Westeros. Wears the simple crown of the Dragonbane. Handsome, strong yet somehow kindly, approachable.
JAEHAERYS II. Amiable, clever, sickly (he died young). Pale and frail, with very large purple eyes. Shoulder-length hair, a silky beard, a tired smile. One arm concealed by the drape of his cape. Wears Maekar's crown.
AERYS II. The Mad King. Only in his forties when he died, but he looked much older. Very thin (he was afraid of being poisoned) and gaunt, with wild, tangled hair past his shoulders, and fingernails almost a foot long (he would not allow blades in his presence, even to cut his hair and trim his beard). Wears the big, elaborate crown of Aegon the Unworthy.
VISERYS III. The Beggar King. No crown. Perhaps he should be shown in tattered beggar's robes and cloak.
DAENERYS I. Daenerys Stormborn. No description necessary, I assume. Show her wearing the three-headed dragon crown she was given in Qarth, as described in A CLASH OF KING. Might be good to include the three dragons in the picture. Show them very young, as hatchings, one in her lap, one wrapped around her arm and shoulder, one flying just above her.
And that's it.