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January 2006

Vericon (Harvard University, MA; January 27-29)
Submitted By: Laura

I actually, quite randomly, ended up following George RR Martin to the building, and I held the door as he entered. I picked up my registration at 5pm (yay for preregistering and not having to wait in line) and killed time people watching as I waited for his first panel to start.

The first panel was at 5:30 and was about "Magical Realism"--more or less, how one should or shouldn't write magic in fiction. Nothing too interesting, and Martin didn't really talk much about his own work, just cited historical precedent and other authors who have done well or poorly. There were a couple of very strange and babbly women on the panel who I found endlessly irritating. Although Martin did call one of them out on her inanity. Someone wrote it up here on the asoiaf board, which I'll quote:

Ms Gilman was asked some sort of question about inherent mythology in her world, and she stated that her world's inhabitants know that if they do not perform certain rites, then the sun wil not come up.
George then said, and I am paraphrasing, "Well, they don't know that for sure, do they? They've never tested it."
Greer: "They just know. If certain things aren't done, the sun will not come up."
George: "Has the sun ever not come up before?"
Greer: "No."
George: "So how do they know? They only suspect."
A flustered Greer: "They know, just as they know that if they drop a pot it will shatter."
A jovial George: "They know that because they've dropped pots before."
Sarah Smith: "Well in my books, the magic is very subtle."

Heheheh.

...

At 7:30, Martin read a chapter from the upcoming book A Dance with Dragons (which the kid introducing him incorrectly called Dances with Dragons, giving me hideous visions of Kevin Costner as Ned Stark....). It was a Davos chapter, and I find Davos to be one of the most painfully dull characters in the series, so I haven't much to say about it. Hearing George read it the way he means it was cool though--you pick up more from having the author himself read it, I think.

Next morning we were up for a quick bagel and coffee breakfast (there are approximately 700 million coffee places in the Harvard Square area, and I wanted to try as many as possible) and a panel called "All You Need Is Love", about love and sex in fiction. It was okay, though it's not like Martin is a master of romance fiction, y'know? He did say he prefers tragic love stories (a la Romeo and Juliet) which gave me even less hope for Jaime and Brienne. He also ridiculed the concept of "gratuitous" and defended his inclusion of sex scenes (as he is trying to create an immersive experience, and sex is a huge part of peoples' lives and is necessary for his development of characters).

Afterward we got some books signed at the nearby bookstore. I asked Martin "Did you intend for Jaime Lannister to be such a complex character from the beginning, or is that one of the things that grew in the telling?" He said that he likes exploring grey characters and always intended for Jaime to be complex, but some details grew in the telling. 10zlaine told him she likes his blog.

After lunch we headed over to Martin's 5pm guest of honor speech, which was in another fascinating Harvard building. Fascinating and complex, as no one in the crowd or on the concomm could figure out how to turn on the lights, so Martin gave the speech in the dark (with a small light behind him lighting his notes).

The speech was quite good, and was about why we read fiction. He suggested a variety of answers, some of which rang more true than others, and finally settled upon "vicarious experience." Then he went into a fascinating sort of existential thing about the nature of memory, how we live only in the present moment and how we are defined and created by our memories, and so if we remember, say, Lord of the Rings more vividly than we remember the street we grew up on, isn't Lord of the Rings at least as big a part of who we are?

It was really interesting, and got me to thinking about how that applies to other forms of art, and whether the music I love means so much because it evokes the memory of who I was when I loved it most, or because it's a form of vicarious emotional experience, or whether love of music is more closely related to one of the other reasons he suggested which is the beauty of the words themselves (you could also apply that to the sound and rhythm of music).

I hope he posts the speech somewhere; I haven't really done it justice in summary.

He also answered some questions, and had some interesting things to say. He repeatedly emphasized that he prefers to write grey characters, because in real life people are complex; no one is pure evil or pure good. Fiction tends to divide people into heroes who do no wrong and villains who go home and kick their dogs and beat their wives, but that reality is much different. He cited a soldier who heroically saves his friends' lives, but then goes home and beats his wife. Which is he, hero or villain? Martin said both and that neither act cancels out the other.

He also said that he's suspicious of creators who try to answer questions with their work, and emphasized that he prefers to ask questions. He explained that those who try to answer usually end up with the wrong answers (and cited L. Ron Hubbard as an example) but that those who ask are getting people to think and figure things out for themselves. (Oh, Joss Whedon and Rob Thomas, if only you were as wise as George R. R. Martin!!!!)

He didn't offer much in the way of spoilers, but did say that we'd see Arya and Asha in this book, that there would be one new POV but hopefully no more after that (and that they'll continue to keep dropping off), that the timeline of the new book may continue past AFFC but that it depends on the length, and that we'll definitely see Casterly Rock and may see Highgarden.

Someone asked why he writes so much about outcasts and misfits, and he said on one level he relates to that, and that on another level everyone is weird or a misfit in some way. He said aside from the obvious (Brienne, Tyrion), Davos is a misfit because of his low birth (he always feels uncomfortable with his high status) and Ned is a misfit because he feels like he's living his brother's life (marrying Cat, being Lord of Winterfell) which isn't necessarily what he wanted or would have chosen.

I kept trying to formulate a question, but all I really came up with was "Why are the Lannisters the only people in Westeros who have a sense of humor (aside from the QoT, of course)?" and something about the way he seems to be consciously creating as many diverse and interesting female characters as male characters, but I never even formulated that as a proper question. I suppose it's a good thing that I get pretty much everything I need from his books, understand most of what he's doing, and really have no burning questions or things I don't "get." This may be different once the series is actually over, however.

...

We returned at 9pm to yet another Harvard building for "Once More, With Dragons," which was kind of musical/comedy collection of ASOIAF-related sketches. Mr. Martin was in the front row, [info]10zlaine and I in the second. It was very funny. You can read a summary here.

It was amusing to see, for example, Jaime Lannister as Darth Vader, announcing to Joffrey that he's his father (Joffrey's reaction--horrific disgust, of course).

The best part was the Westeros version of celebrity jeopardy, with Robert Baratheon, Hodor, and Arya Stark as contestants. And there was a "Lannister and Stark" song sung to the "Beauty and the Beast" tune with the characters fighting in the background.

...

At 1pm was Martin's final appearance, an "interview," in which he elaborated on his speech and answered more questions. It went a bit over time, because they didn't need the room yet and he agreed to keep answering as long as we kept asking. I was getting so sick of questions about like, gaming and RPGs and other such boring stuff, so I finally forced myself to raise my hand and ask a question (you have no idea how hard this was), which was something like "Jaime Lannister is one of the most complex characters I've read, and the growth he goes through is so interesting. Can you talk more about that or what inspired that?" (Yeah, I know, as far as I'm concerned it's "the Jaime Lannister series.")

So he said that he likes to paint characters in shades of grey (recurring theme of the weekend, yay! so refreshing from these damn didactic TV show runners... anyway....). And that even what seem like the most horrific people have other sides, aren't pure caricatures of evil, that even Hitler had his nice moments. And he wanted to explore what might cause that kind of villainy, because no one just wakes up and says "I want to be evil today," and that Jaime didn't start out evil--that he actually was a very idealistic young man who was disillusioned by life, and that there was always much more to his killing of Arys than just "evil."

Since he was going on so much about Jaime as "exploration of evil" (and I certainly don't think Jaime is evil anymore!) I kind of tried to ask "Do you think he's changed?" to get him to talk about Jaime's redemption arc, so he said something like he wanted to explore the concept of forgiveness and whether it's ever possible to be forgiven for doing such horrible things, and that his goal was to ask the question, not give an answer.

Um, so that was neat. (Well, except for the fact that Hitler came to his mind when talking about Jaime!)

Vericon (Harvard University, MA; January 27-29)
Submitted By: Green Armadillo

Various characters and ghosts were hanging around one of those nebulous out of character bars. The leadin for the World of Westeros video was that Mellisandre was playing the new George Martin MMORPG, but she complains of how one incompetent player can ruin a whole raid. Cut to a complete re-enactment of the Leeroy Jenkins video. (This was also a clever use of props, as the actress was running the computer with the powerpoint show and video on it, and thus provided an in character explanation for why she had it.)

(In the original WoW video, a guild is sitting around in the middle of a raid on a dungeon, trying to figure out how to survive the next room. The plan they come up with is horrible, and their stats guy gives them a 32.33%, repeating of course, chance of survival, which is relative good for their plans apparently. During the whole discussion, a character named Leeroy is sitting with his "Away from keyboard" tag on. Suddenly, Leeroy speaks up, "Okay guys, I'm back, let's do this. LEEEEEEROY JEEEENKINS!!!!" Leeroy charges in, the raid sits there for a moment in stunned silence and then follows him, the leader crying for everyone to stick to the plan. Everyone dies. Video ends with the raid leader declaring "Leeroy, you're an idiot".)

For the spoof, someone rolled up a bunch of low level characters named after various Martin characters and recreated the video nearly scene by scene. Stannis was the raid leader, discussing their plan to topple Joffrey, Mellisandre was the stats person, and Ned Stark was the AFK NedJenkins, with a guest cameo by RobbStark, who also gets himself killed. It was pretty hard to catch all of the dialog, unfortunately. Maybe if we're lucky the Vericon folks will post the video somewhere. After the video ends, with Stannis declaring that Ned is an idiot, enter the ghost of Ned, who protests that he isn't that stupid. Everyone laughs, but he swears he had competition. Cut to Celebrity Jeopardy.

The contestants are:
Robert Baretheon, playing the Sean Connery role
Hodor
Arya Stark, who has added Alex Trebek to the end of The List.

Quotes and questions:
Trebek: And our last category, discussing Sam and Aemon's journey across the sea, Maester Boating!
Robert: AH HAHAHAHA!!!
Trebek: *sees double entendre* Uh... let's change that to World Religions.

Trebek: House banners for 200. This animal is on the banner of House Lannister. *picture of lion flashes up on screen*
Arya: What is the broken corpse of a rat snapped in two by the jaws of a wolf?
Trebek: Don't we all wish. Hodor?
Hodor: HODOR!
Trebek: No.
Robert: The Lannisters are a bunch of pussies!
Trebek: Judges? Yes, we'll give you that one.

Trebek: This man is the true father of Joffrey, who has fair hair and green eyes like all the Lannisters and unlike all of Robert's bastards. Robert: Who is me? Trebek: No. Anyone? The answer, surprizing as it might be to some is Jamie Lannister. *Cut across stage to Jaime and Joffrey* Jaime: What did they tell you about your father? Joffrey: They told me my father was killed in a hunting accident! Jaime: *deep voice* No, Joffrey. I am your father. Joffrey: NO!!!! It's not possible!!!! Jaime: Join me and we will rule Westeros together as father and son. Joffrey: Ack, can't get the image out of my head, no!!!!

Trebek: And now for Final Jeopardy. To give Hodor a fair chance, the question is to write your own name. All you have to do is write your name and you win. *music interlude* Alright, Arya, let's see what you wrote.
Arya's board: Nobody.
Trebek: No.
Arya: Cat? Salty? The Ghost of Harrenhal?
Trebek: Give up. Robert, what did you write?
Robert's board: others
Trebek: No, Robert, you're not a bunch of wraiths seeking to over-run Westeros. Let's see what you wagered.
Robert's board: *letters appear around the "others" to reveal* Your mother's a whore.
Robert: *laughs*
Trebek: *sighs* Hodor, I suppose we should see what you've done...
Hodor's board: Hodor
Trebek: Wow. I guess you do know how to to write your own name. Let's see what you wagered.
Hodor's board: Hodor
Trebek: I should have seen that coming.

There was also a segment where Mellisandre cast a spell to let the audience hear character's thoughts, Earshot-style. By far the best of these was Jaime's, which was just him repeating "Lancel and Osney Kettleblack and Moonboy too!" over and over again. :) Then there was a musical number "Lannister and Stark" to the tune of "Beauty and the Beast", as the obligatory fight breaks out. The show ends when the waiter orders everyone who isn't prepared to refrain from fighting to leave, pretty much everyone does, and suddenly the waiter falls over dead, shot by a crossbow for no apparent reason. The folks left on stage shrug, saying that people always die in George Martin tales.

I'm not sure if George Martin got all of the jokes or not, but he seemed to think the show was pretty funny.

Vericon (Harvard University, MA; January 27-29)
Submitted By: Green Armadillo

The promised reading from the forthcoming book was the first Davos POV chapter. The Hand of Stannis gets dragged before a minor lord nominally loyal to Kings Landing and is left with nothing but his wits to plead his case. There aren't major developments - indeed, Davos has yet to be filled in on events from the closing chapters of the third book. But the Onion Knight's usual mix of honesty and insight get to work as he once again needs to talk his way out of a potential watery grave. I wasn't terribly fond of him when he was first introduced (to be fair, a large part of my reaction was nothing specific to Davos and more "Oh no, not another POV character I need to remember who'll further dilute the frequency of Jon, Arya, and Tyrion chapters"), but he's grown on me since and this tale showcased why. Here's hoping that, as is often the case with Martin books, the news we heard second-hand of the Onion Knight in the fourth book turns out to be false.

Other tidbits of the future:
When asked about how the structure of having books 4 and 5 run in parallel would work, Martin said that the timeline *might* advance beyond the end of where it was as book 4 wrapped, if he still had space. I wouldn't count on it - as he explains, the series will be seven books long, that's his story, and he's sticking to it, so forget all the rumors you may have heard of 3, 4, or 6. Oh yeah, and the only real spoiler...

Some POV characters from Book 4 will return, including Arya! :) (Of course, this merely means we'll be waiting six years to find out what happens to her next instead of the 10 it'll take for book 6....)

Paraphrases as close as I can remember them:
- *when asked about how the villians of his tale all seem to have deeper motivations* "Villians are the other side's heroes.... they have motivations too, it's not like anyone wakes up and thinks "Hmmm, what evil can I do today?"

- *asked about violence, especially towards women, in his book* I get surprizingly few complaints about the violence. Moreso about the sex. I can write a graphic description of what happens when an axe enters someone's head, but when a penis enters a vagina. Our country is surprizingly alright with axes entering skulls and not alright with penises entering vaginas... I get letters about how people bought a fantasy book and got porn.

- *asked about how he goes about revising his books* "Well, 'A Feast for Crows' took a bit longer than we expected." [the book was announced for 2001 and came out in Nov of 2005]
(Later on in his answer, he commented on something I noticed during the reading, namely that he was reading the manuscript with pen in hand and actually writing down tweaks as he went, which was kinda nifty.)

- Asked by GA how he keeps all this stuff straight (to much laughter in the room): Well, I've been living in Westeros since 1991. The part of my brain that would remember people I met today or errands I was supposed to do goes to recalling the second spearman from the left and [name of the minor lord from the Davos chapter that GA's already forgotten], who I might never use again, but has his moment in the spotlight here.
(On followups by other folks, he said that he's not tired of writing this tale despite the long time he's been at it, though he concedes that "A Dance with Dragons" has been his nemesis - when the series was to be three volumes long, Dragons was to be the middle one, and it keeps getting pushed back. He says that we can get worried about the overall length of the series if the next book to come out isn't Dragons. :))

Vericon (Harvard University, MA; January 27-29)
Submitted By: Stegoking

Vericon is a wonderful concept; a small college convention catering primarily to youth. There is anime aplenty, webcomics galore, and cosplay abounds. Furries rub shoulders with those present for the Dance Dance Revolution tournament, while the CCG people huddled in their bunkers strategizing world domination through cardboard.

It was a geekfest in grand Harvard style.

On Friday night, George had a panel on magic with lesser known authors Greer Gilman and Sarah Smith.

Ms Gilman was asked some sort of question about inherent mythology in her world, and she stated that her world's inhabitants know that if they do not perform certain rites, then the sun wil not come up.

George then said, and I am paraphrasing, "Well, they don't know that for sure, do they? They've never tested it."
Greer: "They just know. If certain things aren't done, the sun will not come up."
George: "Has the sun ever not come up before?"
Greer: "No."
George: "So how do they know? They only suspect."
A flustered Greer: "They know, just as they know that if they drop a pot it will shatter."
A jovial George: "They know that because they've dropped pots before."<
Sarah Smith: "Well in my books, the magic is very subtle."

I found this exchange hilarious. I just thought I'd share it.

After the panel, George gave a reading from A Dance With Dragons, and although it was the Davos chapter he had previously read, this was the first time he had officially done a reading from ADwD. If you want spoilers from the chapter, wonderful ones are provided already in the ADwD forum.

After the reading we (my wife Maureen and I) went back to George's suite with him and some of the convention organizers. We ordered in pizza and soda, and spent the next few hours in an ever-fascinating conversation.

It's always a surprise how wonderful and interesting a human being George is. I never fail to be amazed.

On Saturday, George sat on a panel about 'Love in Fantasy' which inevitably turned to 'Sex in Fantasy.' I wasn't present at the panel, but that's the report I got. (Maureen and I were sleeping in after a long Friday night.)

We also missed his signing across the street at the Harvard Book Store in the early afternoon. Harvard campus is a difficult place to find parking, so we had taken the train in. I was simply NOT willing to take my beloved collectibles on public transportation, so I'm holding off on getting things signed until Boskone. (3 weeks is hardly a long time)

On Saturday afternoon, George gave his Guest of Honor speech. The topic was 'Why We Read,' and like all of Martin's work, it was moving. I'd like to get a transcript at some point.....perhaps he'll make it available at his website. His assertion was that we read for vicarious experience. He's fought a thousand wars, loved a thousand women, all from the comfort of his home. I'm incapable of condensing his hour long speech and expressing all he touched upon... here's hoping he makes it available.

After the speech, Maureen and I took George out for a burger at the local 'famous burger place.' There's something infinitely cool about having a burger with your favorite author.

Saturday night featured ASoIaF skits performed by the Harvard SF association. This included an 'ICE and FIRE PUB: Live Characters Only' skit that was Westeros meets Cheers. Then there was a World of Warcraft Westeros movie which portrayed Ned Stark as the infamous Leeroy Jenkins. "That dumbass got everybody killed!"

Then came the grand finale....... Celebrity Jeopardy in Westeros. The contestants were Arya Stark, Hodor, and Robert Baratheon. (as Sean Connery from Saturday Night Lives Celebrity Jeopardy skits) Alex Trebek was the host, of course.

In classic celebrity Jeopardy style, Trebek gets sick of the constant stupidity and moves on to final Jeopardy where he asks the contestants to write down their names.

Arya, of course, has a hard time with this task. She just has too many names. She ends up getting mad and adding Alex Trebek to her infamous 'list.' "Ser Gregor, The Hound, The Tickler, Raff The Sweetling, Alex Trebek."

Hodor got his name right. (His first correct answer of the evening.) Unfortunately, his wager was Hodor.

King Robert's answer to 'Write down your name' was 'Other's.' Of course King Robert Baratheon is not an Other...... but the answer made sense when his wager was revealed, and the entire sentence came into view.....

"You're mOther's a whore, Trebek!"

George was howling with mirth, and I for one almost peed myself.

I'm trying to get a recording of the skits on tape so that I can upload it and share it. If unavailable, the entire skit may be performed again at Boskone in a few weeks..... at least I'm trying to make that happen. Stay tuned.

We finished up the evening in proper BwB fashion, drinking at a local brew pub.

We said our farewells to George at a reasonably late hour, with a "see you in a few weeks at Boskone!" I've promised George that we will make Boskone memorable for him, and that many more BwB members will make it. You all need to help me fulfill this promise. Stay tuned for that, as well.

-----I forgot to add that we were not priviledged this weekend with the presence of the wonderful Parris. She was indeed missed.

...

I don't know what other's have heard and passed on.....

My understanding from what I've heard is that "Yes, we will see Arya." Asha was NEVER mentioned.

I asked George later "But will Arya see us?" He said, of course not.....she's a fictional character....she can't see the reader. "But will she see...I dunno.....anything?"

"That would be telling," he said merrily.

The book, as I understand it will feature Jon, Dany, Tyrion, Davos, and probably Theon(?) and the other mystery POV. Arya will be in towards the end, he said.

Lord Gyles’s Ward
Submitted By: Linda H.

So here goes: Is the ward of Lord Gyles Rosby mentioned in Feast Aegon? I know that you have said for certain that poor Rhaenys is dead, but hedged a bit on Aegon. And I just was thinking about all the remarkable detail you put in the books, wondering how it came about that the poor coughing Lord Gyles even had a ward and how evil it was of Cersei to steal his inheritance, when suddenly I just began to wonder about why you would put that detail in. And you already hid one prince (Tommen) on the Rosby estate, so it is not that crazy an idea, is it?

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Canadian Signing Tour (Vancouver)
Submitted By: Whoresbane

So here's my report from the CBC Book club event in Vancouver (for our international friends, the CBC is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation - public radio and tv and I cannot live without it!)

The event was not all that well attended....I was shocked! I arrived quite early, so got a front row seat. The event was moderated by Sheryl McKay (a local radio host - most excellent) and John Burns (book editor for a local paper)

George came in, and joked about the weather...its been raining here for a month solid, bad even for the Wet Coast. It went well with the first chapter - the Cersei one, on the way to the funeral, with all the rain. After, Sheryl and John made some comments and posed some questions.

J commented on how G's reading aloud conveyed the gamesmanship and paranoia on every page and asked G if he found imagining and writing all that intrigue exhausting. G said no, not that part of writing, he actually enjoys that part quite a bit. He writes books that he would want to read and finds alot of fantasy deficient because everyone is as they seem-called it lazy writing; said we all wear masks and people are complex--they have heroism and monstrosity. The exploration of character is the most interesting aspect of people and he tries to celebrate it in his books.

S - commented on how he offs his main characters.

G - fiction is too predictable, esp in fantasy, where you know a main character will survive, no matter how many orcs are chasing him. G is not interested in this fiction of comfort- wants to shake up readers, make the danger feel real.

S - wanted to know how readers felt about it

G - most love it

J - commented on sex in the books

G -says there should be more sex in fantasy, more sex in life; gets more letters of complaint about sex than about death, G marvelled that "the penis obscene while the ax is just cool fun"; said that anything gratuitous is that which does not advance the plot directely, but big deal - plot alone makes a 20 page book; he wants you to smell the smoke and food at a feast, see the fools - trying to do complex characters...you need to show it--cant just say "this character here is complex, you know"

Then he talked a bit about oaths, and how they are lost in modern life. the books grapple with this

After a few more questions/comments, the floor was opened, and the first question, I kid you not, was "who are Jon's parents"

In response to another question about why this book took so bloody long, G admitted to mistakes in structure. he talked about Tolkein, and how he did something great in LotR by starting with the Shire, which is the whole world at the beginning, and when the story grew, so did the world. He is trying to do this, and from the beginning had planned to introduce new parts of this world, and new characters - found himself with too many balls in the air but he needed to keep them there, otherwise they would fall on his head

Next question was on POV's and whether G was worried about creeping Jordanism

G - Only one new one in DwD - see above for juggling analogy; he's gonna kill some off too. He wants all POV's to have a story arc even A VERY SHORT ARC (a significant statment, I thought); some readers were displeased with all the new ones in Feast....wanted old familiars, but the new ones were neccessary geographically. With Dorne and the Iron Islands he had originally tried each with one single POV, but it wasnt working, hence more delay.

Then he read a second chapter, the Captain of the Guards. Afterward, talked about Dorne a bit....separated physically and culturally, but joined due to a dynastic marriage.

Question from John:

what was the hardest thing in writing about such an alien world

G - the vast majority of fantasy is middle agey time wise, and he himself finds the period fascinating; glad to adopt it for novel writing - likes knights and castles and such. He objects to bad fantasy practice which adopts a time setting without accepting the culture - imposing 20th century values like the cheeky stableboy telling off the princess (in reality cheeky stableboy would lose his tongue - look what happend to Micah); the class system was not just and ornament and these people truly belived in blood, and the rank and priviledge that came with "good" blood. He discussed the role of women - in bad fantasy where the princess refuses to marry the old ugly fart - women were raised to accept this as their fate (ie Sansa and Tyrion); he castigated the warrior princess in a chainmail bikini, who in that reality would get chopped in two with a longsword. You needed brute strength to fight a la middle ages (voila Brienne); but women could fight with other weapons (sand snakes), it was just very very rare.

Question from Sheryl:

Heard that the series came from an image of direwolves and winterfell

G - yes, and the growth of the story from there was very exciting....he sees his writing style as being more like a gardener...planted a seed and watered it and let it grow, as opposed to writers who are like archtects, who plan everything out before they write the first word.

Audience questions on maps and size and population- we've heard it before.

Question on characters - very similar to characters from classical literature - is it intentional?

G- everything he experiences goes into the hopper, gets ground up and comes out in the books; but he tries not to draw direct analogues.

Question - have the mechanics of scriptwriting affected his fiction writing?

G - improved strength of structure and dialogue; his practice of repeated cliffhangers is directly from tv writing - act breaks - but- he is anti hollywood in many ways- his work is too long, too extravegant and has too many battlescenes for film/tv...fiction allows him to indulge his love of scale and detail.

Question (from yours truly) what the hell is with Biter? Is he just a bad guy or is he something more....

George treated us to a never before heard back story of Rorge and Biter.....Rorge ran a dog and bear fighting place in Flea Bottom. Biter was an orphan whom Rorge grabbed up and raised ferally to fight in the pits. ( I was most pleased to actually elicit something totally unknown)

DwD? Hoping for early 2007. Going home to write now.

...

As regards oaths, he seemed to lean toward the loss of the oath as bad, but said that first, he was grappling with the issue himself, and the second, he didnt want to get all didactic about it, and wanted readers to draw their own conclusions about the value of an oath.

Canadian Signing Tour (Vancouver)
Submitted By: Evil Agent

1st Event

I saw him tonight.. twice actually! Once from 4pm-6pm at a live radio interview that was put together at the last minute with almost no advertising... It was mostly an interview, with two readings, and a long Q&A. At this first event, I asked him about the POVs. I basically said he's known for it, and so far each book has had new ones, and that Feast seemed to contain the most new ones yet. But I asked if he was planning to continue introducing new POVs, or if he was worried about potenitally losing control of the story. I mentioned "other best-selling fantasy authors who shall remain nameless" who some say lost control of their series.

He spoke about all the balls he's juggling in the story, and wondering at times if he really needed the last few balls, but he's juggling them all now so he's gotta keep going. But he said he only hopes to introduce one new POV in Dance with Dragons, and then to probably stop introducing new ones. He wants to start bringing it to a close, and he thinks it will still be 7 books.

At the end of this radio interview, they had a draw, and since only about 20 people were there, I managed to win a hardcover signed copy of Feast! Too bad I already have one though...

2nd Event

The second event was at 7 pm, at Chapters bookstore. At this one he didn't do any reading, he simply spoke for about 45 minutes, about Fantasy and fiction in general. It was really interesting. He spoke about Lord of the Rings for a good 10 minutes, which was awesome. Again they had a Q&A, and again I managed to ask a question. This time I asked about the 5 year gap, and since Feast only covers a short period of time, was there still going to be a gap? He had a long, pretty funny answer, all about why the gap was a terrible idea and why it's now totally scrapped. He said he had opened his big mouth and mentioned the gap in so many interviews and conventions that he kept sticking with it, even after he should have stopped, realizing that it was not working. He spoke of how in King's Landing so much stuff had happened over the 5 years that he was basically writing non stop flashback scenes. Then, in the North, he had to write about how nothing had been happening... he actually imitated Jon Snow, saying "It's been a slow 5 years here... at the Wall... hanging out with Stannis... but now a bunch of stuff is about to happen!". He said the gap would have been good to allow the dragons to grow bigger, and the children to grow up, but that for better or worse it is now gone.

Biter's Untold Backstory!

At the first event, the CBC radio interview, a girl asked him about Biter. She said most of his characters are somewhat grey, not totally evil.. but that there was something about Biter, and she had suspicions about him. Martin seemed to love the question, and laughed about it, and then he told us the as-yet-unwritten backstory to Biter! Here it is, if you want to know, but I guess it's SPOILERS!: Rorge owned a pot shop or bar in Flea Bottom, the really bad part of King's Landing. Rorge would stage rat fights, and dog fights, bear cub fights, etc., and make money of these fights. At some point he found young Biter, a big ugly kid with no parents or something like that, and took him in. Rorge starting putting Biter into the fights, fighting mastiffs and bear cubs, etc. And then he said something like "And all of this led to his winning personality! So there you go, that's the backstory for Biter that I haven't written yet, but I might!"

A couple other people asked some good questions, and a couple that I thought were bad. Someone specifically asked about who Jon Snow's parents were, and someone asked about Syrio and Jaqen H'gar! He basically laughed and said "I'm not gonna tell you!"

Studio One Book Club Interview

http://www.cbc.ca/bc/bookclub/georgerrmartin.html

Canadian Signing Tour (Calgary)
Submitted By: Ashara

The signing was taking place in one of the bookstores downtown Calgary in a large cafee they have upstairs there. It was cozy, but unlike Toronto, nobody had to be packed in the rows between the bookshelves.

George Martin gave an hour or hour and a half talk, answered some questions from the audience, and then signed our precious books!

user posted image

The most important thing first: Martin was touring since October, so he had not done much progress on the Dance With the Dragons. However, he is sitting on 500-600 pages taken out of the Feats, and (well, last time he was three years late) he wants to try to finish by the summer, so that the book can be published in the end of 2006. Or the beginning of 2007... Well, the main thing, he said, do not believe anything amazon tells you! On the daily updates: It would give people heart-attacks to read that he ripped apart twelve pages, so he is a week back on what had been written.

Alright, now to the rest of the stuff: he started with saying that he is disappointed in Calgary -- last time he was touring, it was with the Storm of Swords, and we had --40 C, so it greatly helped him in the writing about the Wall. Yes! We, calgarians, sure did our best there!

Then he went on remembering his very first signing tour that started in Texas -- a mistake right there -- where he had 20 or so people in Houston, 30 in Austin, and then, when he came to Dallas, why, there was a good crowd... for the signings done by a dog -- some sort of a children character, I suppose, a big stuffed toy costume and all that. He had two people.

Then he started talking about the questions he is usually asked to get it out of the way. In regards to the advice for the inspiring writers were: dont start with the epic, write short stories with the beginning, middle and end, and experiment with them; learn write about the painful things; read a lot, and of every gender and persist.

Killing characters: He writes the books that he wants to read. Meaning, the books that you know how they'll end on page 5 (told a joke about his mother who could predict very well how the next episode of I love Lucy will end in the very beginning, and how he got good at it soon too, and got bored). And the books that allow emotional attachment to the characters.

Ideally, Martin said, I want you to drop through the book cover and be in the middle of the book, on the battlefield when the characters are fighting, or in the bedroom when they step there. Obviously, its not what's going to happen, because you will still be sitting in your chair or in your bathtub -- bad idea, the books are too heavy, and you will drop them. But, the magic is to make it real.

Well, if you are polite, you will call it a work of a magician, and if you are impolite -- a fraud. (He likes this idea, actually; on the prior conference, he opened his "Why do we like to read GoHs speech with the "I am a liar."

Here, he also gave a lovely a little speech on gratuitous; people often ask why there are so much gratuitous in his books -- gratuitous heraldry, gratuitous feasting, gratuitous sex. Not many, he said, object to the gratuitous feasting though... What, would he ask do you call gratuitous? Well, they'd say, when it does not advance the plot. Martins reply is that he can hand out the 20 page summaries of the plot, but he does not believe that it what the readers want; it's not what he wants in a book -- hed read plenty which were just that: plot advancement. He want the reader to get hungry when the characters feast, and horny when they make love... or disgusted, as the case might be. Fear. He was talking about the rollercoaster movies and books -- comparing the adrenaline rush you get while perfectly safe and the "real" fear, the one that one experiences in the face of death. Talked about us watching Indiana Jones killing 424 Nazis, and knowing that not a single one is going to blow the back of Indi's head of....

While in his universe, Westeros, the world is dangerous, so if Tyrion faces 424 Nazis he is in real trouble -- first, because there are no Nazis in westerous, and second, because he is a dwarf, so facing two, or even just one guy with a big axe is a challenge for him, and who knows if he emerges alive. Thats by the way, why he kills the characters -- do it early on, and you achieve the suspense. The reader should not know what happens next, he needs to want to see what happens next.

But, he hates killing his characters. If you thought it was painfull for you to read the Red Wedding, maybe you hurled the book into the wall, well, it was more painful for him to read. The Red Wedding was the last scene written, before he had to submit the manuscript to the publisher.

Questions from the audience:

On keeping notes and writing the backstory: No, Martin does not keep outlines (did it in his TV's days and hated it). he knows where he is going, but he puts everything he has pretty much in the books. Said, he gets e-mails sometimes from Tolkien devotees, asking him about the structure and grammar of Old Valyrian. Said: "I created eight words in High Valyrian. When I need the ninth I will create it." of course, he said, most authors like to pretend that they are Tolkines, keeping manuscripts and manuscripts of the world creation. But, its not the case. Tolkien is an exception. It is not like an iceberg. It is more like a float onto which the writer piled a bit of ice. When he needs the iceberg to look taller, well, he'd add more ice.

That answers the question that is asked of him: "What if you die before finishing the books?"

Well, I dont want some f*cking hack to finish my book! You will have to hope that I live long enough.

Now, how does he keep track of all those characters? A gift, he guesses. He is bad in the real life with remembering people; he won't remember the guys who stand in line twice to sign more copies (he signs three per person per time); but he happens to remember the name of the captain of the guard in the Highgarden

Speaking of the names, someone asked about the names. Different ways, some invented, some altered. He praised Tolkien, who does not just have one wonderful name, but six of them; also mentioned Vance in that respect.

He said it still amazes him that people call their babies after their characters, but he is slightly apprehensive as well. In the "Beauty and the Beast" days, when one of the cast, called Catherine resigned, they killed her, and introduced a new character. So, one of the outraged phone calls was from a tearful, weeping woman, telling the writers that they killed her baby, because she named it after the character J He said, be careful, you like the character now, but what about in three books? (Domi: conclusion: name children after the dead characters)

He was also asked about how his book started. Pretty much with Brans chapter. The Wall is inspired by his visit to the Hadrian's wall, but since his was bigger, it had to guard the realm against someone fiercer than Scotts (not that Scotts arent fierce).

Oouf!

So, in the end, I happily got my autograph; I asked him to write "Don't cry when Jaime dies." but he laughed and said "it will be giving too much away" and signed: "Dont cry when _________________ dies" He left a hellishly long line there too, to fill in!

Hey, did I bore you all to death yet?

Canadian Signing Tour (Toronto)
Submitted By: King's man

I never got to ask a question during the Q&A. But i sliped in a quick one during the book signings. I asked about the unmarked island near the Dorne. His answer was that it was just one of the stepstones and he hadn't even come up with an actual name for it. And it didn't have a lord as of yet. And apparently there are several more islands of simalar size that are extend further east. So now i'm not even sure it is part of westeros.

I also wanted the words for house Blackwood in my LEGENDS II. To that he said he had thought up some but he didn't know them from memery. So he just wrote "Winter is Comming" which doesn't really suit the book but i wasn't quick enough to suggest "fire and blood"

Canadian Signing Tour (Toronto)
Submitted By: Mich

Another addition as well. In Toronto when George answered the "Who is the most underrated character?" question he pronounced Catelyn's name quite differently than I've heard others saying before. George said it as Kat-el-in *steals Ran's phonetics*

Canadian Signing Tour (Toronto)
Submitted By: loathsome warg

There were a LOT of people there. I arrived at around 6:40, so I was stuck standing in the line toward the middle to end. But that's ok, I dragged my sister along for the ride (who hasn't read the books btw haha don't worry I'm working on that) so I had someone to bug and poke during the wait.

Anyway, to the important stuff. GRRM started off saying how Toronto is like some sort of time portal, because the last time he was here in 2000, he was watching the U.S. elections and turned off the t.v. just after Gore won Florida thinking it was safe to go to bed. He said he hopes that somehow his being in Toronto will reopen the portal and he'll find himself in the second term of Gore's presidency rofl2.gif

After that, he discussed the 5 year gap, why it had to be scrapped etc. everything we already pretty much know.

Then some people asked some questions, such as who is the most underrated character. GRRM didn't REALLY answer that question, just saying he knows who readers don't really like (he mentioned Sansa and Catelyn, but I like them both tongue.gif ) and that Arya, Jon Snow and Tyrion are most people's favourites.

Someone asked about Tywin and whoring but he said he couldn't answer those kinds of questions from a platform and they will be better resolved in future books. (ooh cryptic)

Someone else asked about turning ASOIAF into an HBO series and GRRM said maybe in the future if HBO comes to him etc.

Ummm that's all I can remember right now from the questioning...

I waited in line for about an hour and a half, got my book signed, GRRM was really nice etc. anyway, off to read some Shakespeare and hit the sack! Hope all you BWBers who met up had fun and had a few (and more) drinks to make up for my absence.