The Citadel: SSM

The Citadel is an archive of information for George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.

New to the series? Read our spoiler-free review of A Game of Thrones.

Read our Privacy Policy.

Connect With Us
Recent Entries
Archives

View All

Sites of Interest

April 2008

Targaryen History

[Why is Daeron the Good credited with bringing Dorne into the realm, if surely it was a predecessor who arranged the marriage of his sister?]

Daeron II was much older than his sister Daenerys. He was already married and father to a son of his own (Baelor Breakspear) before she was born. That marriage was brokered by King Baelor the Blessed, who also officated at the ceremony. It was part of the peace with Dorne, following the conquest of Daeron I. The wedding of Daenerys and the Dornish prince came much later, and was part of the treaty that brought Dorne into the realm.

[Did Daena complaining about how she might have been Queen if it weren't for the Dance of the Dragons determining that a Targaryen queen would never rule in her own right lead to Daemon Blackfyre's rebellion?]

Certainly possible, but it was Aegon's very public gift of Blackfyre to his bastard son that first started widespread talk that perhaps he should be king.

[Isn't it odd that no Great House has been destroyed in the course of the wars and rebellions since the Conquest?]

Well, the series isn't over.

[Why didn't Baelor the Blessed, the septon-king, rearm the Faith?]

Baelor the Blessed wasn't interested in arming anyone. He would have preferred to disarm the entire world. He was a man of peace, and his favorite weapon was a prayer.

[Was Daeron I gay?]

No, Daeron I was not gay. He was married, but died without issue.

[Will the next Dunk & Egg story feature their trip to the Wall?]

Sorry, but no. Though it does touch on some other subjects you've raised here. It is titled "The Mystery Knight."

Vance, King, and Anime and Manga

[GRRM is asked which Jack Vance books have influenced him most.]

I love everything that Jack Vance has written, although some of it I love more than others.

Some of his series projects are particular favorites - the Dying Earth, the Demon Princes, the Planet of Adventure. His mysteries are good as well, especially BAD RONALD, a truly creepy concept.

[GRRM is asked the same question concerning Stephen King.]

Well, I like a lot of King as well. I think THE SHINING is probably his masterpiece.

[Does GRRM read manga or watch anime?]

No, don't follow manga or anime.

Valyria, the Usurper, and Dotrice

[Does GRRM plan to write any stories concerning ancient Valyria?]

Not at present, but anything is possible in the future.

[How about young Robert, Eddard, and the War of the Usurper?]

Not at present, but I never say never.

[Will Roy Dotrice return to reading the audio books?]

I would love to have Roy back, and I know he'd love to do it. It all depends on the schedule, and whether or not he is available when Random House wants to record. Last time there was a scheduling conflict.

Beauty and the Beast setting and characters

[GRRM is asked if the writers were aware of how much the setting of Beauty and the Beast affected viewer interest.]

Yes, we were aware that our viewers watched the show for many different reasons. Some loved the romance, some the action, some the fantasy, and some of you liked all of it. We tried to do many different types of shows, to keep the series fresh from week to week.

[How did you handle characters you did not create in your scripts?]

Well, most of the major characters were created either by Ron Koslow or one of his staff writers, which included me, and we were all right theire to help each other when those characters appeared again. For instance, I would sometimes tweak the dialogue of Mouse, who was one of "my" characters, to help capture his unique voice. Ron was the ultimate authority, of course.

[How is consistency of characterization handled in a show with many different writers?]

That was always Ron Koslow. He rewrote as necessary, and if the voices weren't right, the script never went into production.

Valyrian Dragon Riders

[Were the Targaryens the only Valyrians who rode dragons?]

They were the only dragonriders to survive the Doom.

Cyvasse, Accents, Historical Mysteries, and Dornish Nationalism

1) Is cyvasse inspired by any particular games?

A bit of chess, a bit of blitzkrieg, a bit of stratego. Mix well and add imagination.

2) In your "mind's ear", do accents from different parts of Westeros map to accents from real life, or are details like the Dornish drawl primarily a matter of background color?

Yes, Westeros has regional accents. I played with the idea of trying to depict them with phonetic misspellings (and indeed I do a little of that, with some less educated characters), but that way lies madness. I try to suggest the accents with syntax and taglines instead.

3) There are historical mysteries -- not just recent matter which might have a bearing on the current plot, but older things that are a part of the background -- which have interested a lot of readers. Do you know the answers to all these purposeful mysteries, or do you only decide such details when you actually have to do so?

Depends on the mystery, I suppose. I know the "answers" to many.

4) There seem to be hints in FEAST that Dornish commoners have a greater sense of nationalism (for lack of a better term) than we see in other areas. There are plenty of smallfolk yelling for war following Oberyn's death, for example, which I don't think we've ever seen before since the smallfolk tend to prefer peace and plenty. Timeon tells Brienne to send him to Dorne as she's killing him, as well. Is this intended, or am I reading too much into these examples?

Dorne was a nation apart from the other six kingdoms until a hundred years ago, so, yes, they have a stronger sense of nationality.

Fevre Dream Vampires and Blood

[Do the vampires from Fevre Dream really need to drink blood to survive?]

Unlike the undead of myth (and many other novels), my "people of the night" could actually eat normal food, and it was that which provided most of their sustenence. The red thirst was more of an overpowering sexual urge that an actual thirst or hunger. Failing to satisfy it might drive them mad, but would not kill them. (They were very hard to kill in any case).

Combined Feast and Dance

[Could a combined A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons ever happen?]

I won't say no, but the resulting book would be a monster. You'd have to sew the binding together like a dictionary and sell it with its own special stand. Or else you could make the print really really small and include a magnifying glass.

What Does Parris Know?

[GRRM is asked if he reveals important information to Parris about the next books. He is also asked if she herself asks him for such information.]

No and no.

The Mother and the Onion Knight

[GRRM is asked if Davos Seaworth really heard the Mother answer his prayer, or was it delirium? Was it meant to be ambiguous?]

It was. Which is why I won't answer the question. My readers are free to come to their own conclusions.

HBO Series and Roy Dotrice

[Given the length of time the series is taking to write, is it possible that there'll be issues if the HBO series goes into production and catches up before he's finished?]

Well, I have a considerable head start.

[Does GRRM have a say in who reads the audio book, and will Roy Dotrice read for the next audiobook?]

I do have a say. Roy Dotrice was my selection. Unfortunately, he was busy doing a play when A FEAST FOR CROWS was recorded. It's our hope to have him back for the next book.

Erikson, Rothfuss, and Forums

[GRRM is asked about Steven Erikson.]

I met Erikson last year in Saratoga at the World Fantasy Con. He seemed to be a nice fellow, but I haven't read any of his books yet, alas. No judgment there. There's too many books and too little time. A lot of my fans seem to like the Malazan series, though, and I imagine I will get to it eventually.

I do read other fantasists all the time. I've raved about Scott Lynch and Daniel Abraham on my website. Right now I'm reading the first novel by a guy named Patrick Rothfuss, and enjoying it hugely, though I have some quibbles with the structure.

[Does GRRM read any fan forums?]

I am aware of such forums, certainly, but I try to avoid them.

[If GRRM does read speculations on fan forums, is he tempted to change things in the story to make sure everyone remains surprised?]

And this is one of the big reasons WHY I avoid them.

Parallel Books

[GRRM is asked about the pros and cons of writing a parallel book.]

I don't necessarily recommend the whole "parallel books" thing. I've done it before, with Wild Cards volumes 6 and 7, and to a lesser extent volumes 4 and 5, and there's some cool things you can do... but all in all, I would have preferred to do it all in one book. There were special circumstances behind the split of DANCE from FEAST, as previously related.

Attentive Reading

[Does GRRM prefer his readers to get very involved in the story or should they just read them as great stories and not think too much about them?]

I think every writer appreciates attentive reading of his work. We labor over these books for years, after all. Then they come out, and the readers gulp them down in days or even hours. Which is very gratifying, in one sense, but can also be frustrating, if we feel that they are missing all the grace notes and little subtleties and clever allusions and ironies and turns of phrase that we sweated blood over for so long. I try to write books that will stand up to rereading, so that every time you go through you will find more to appreciate... and therefore I'm thrilled when readers tell me that they do reread the books.

Writing Direwolves, Valyrian, Lyanna and Harrenhal, and Giants

[Fan thanks GRRM for participating in the forum.]

Thanks. I have to admit, though, that the number of questions is getting to be overwhelming, especially in this topic. Good thing I'm only doing this for a week.

[GRRM is asked about the correct interpretation of Bran's vision concerning the stone giant.]

Sorry, but you'll have to interpret the dreams and visions yourself.

[What's it like trying to write sections from the point of view of the direwolves?]

Impossible, really. I keep staring at the drafts and saying, "a wolf wouldn't know that word." Of course, a wolf wouldn't know ANY words, really. And writing without any words is hard. All I can do is try to flavor those sections, to suggest that the wolf is perceiving the world much differently than a man would... but I'm always wondering if I have gone too far, or not far enough.

Yes, the wolf scenes are killers.

[How developed is Valyrian?]

"How little" have I developed Valyrian is the real question. I am not, alas, J.R.R. Tolkien, and I cannot imagine taking a decade to actually work up not one, but two, entire languages. I have something like eight words of Valyrian. When I need a ninth, I'll make one up.

Sorry if that disillusions any of you. It's all smoke and mirrors, kids.

[Will we learn more concerning Lyanna and Harrenhal?]

Yes, you'll hear more about Lyanna and Harrenhal.

[Any link between the giants in the series and the New York Giants?]

Absolutely no link. Clever notion, though. And go G-Men!

Beauty and the Beast

[A fan compliments Beauty and the Beast as being unique.]

I agree. It was a great show to work on as well. Oh, we had our ups and downs and disagreements, but there were a lot of talented people on that series, and I'm proud of the work we did.

[The friendliness of the Beauty and the Beast fandom is discussed.]

They always seemed like nice people, at least for the first two seasons. Then we got to season three, and that wasn't pretty. It's true what they say about love and hate being close cousins.

[Is GRRM aware that the Beauty and the Beast fans still carry out regular activities, and would he be willing to answer some questions for an upcoming event?]

I'm aware of it. How "few" questions? I can take a crack at it, sure, although B&B was twenty years ago, so I am not sure how much I'll remember.

[When shows have multiple writers, how is a single vision kept in focus?]

That's ultimately the responsibility of the showrunner and the staff of writers. In our case the showrunner was Ron Koslow, who created the characters, and he did a very good job of defending his vision and keeping us true to it.

Twilight Zone Scripts

[GRRM is asked about his Twilight Zones work.]

I see somebody has already answered this question. The list includes all the episodes of mine that were produced. I did work on several other scripts. In a couple cases I did uncredited rewrites, and there were also some stories that never got filmed.

Ti Malice

[GRRM is asked about the Wild Cards villain Ti Malice, and whether he'll appear in the future.]

Ti Malice was created by the talented John Jos. Miller. Glad you enjoyed him. Did you notice his cameo in DEATH DRAWS FIVE?

Reprinting Wild Cards

[Will the older Wild Cards books be reprinted?]

We would love to get the older books back in print, yes. We're exploring the possibilities with Tor right now, looking at the idea of perhaps reissuing the original run in giant omnibus editions that woule each include several volumes.

That would only apply for volumes 1 through 15, however. Volumes 16 and 17 are still in print, supposedly, and the rights to those two now belong to Brick Tower Press, who bought out many of the contracts of iBooks in the bankruptcy settlement. We've talked with Brick Tower about paperback editions for those two, and are hopeful that will happen too in the near future.

Of course, everything depends on how well the new books sell. So run right out and buy another ten copies of INSIDE STRAIGHT.

Increasing Magic and Graphic Content

[Is the changing of the setting towards having more prominent magic something GRRM always planned?]

Planned from the beginning.

[Publisher concerns with the graphic content of the series?]

My publishers are perfectly happy with the adult tone of my books. There are plenty of squeaky clean YA fantasies out there for them who don't like that sort of thing,

I do get occasional letters from readers who object to the sexual content in the books... but oddly enough, no one seems to object to the violence. It is a sad commentary on American society that there are people who will be outraged by a description of a penis entering a vagina, but not troubled at all by a description of an axe entering a head.

Size of Westeros

[How big is Westeros? Is it the size of Europe, or even larger?]

I have deliberately tried to be vague about such things, so I don't have obsessive fans with rulers measuring distances on the map and telling me Ned couldn't get from X to Y in the time I say he did.

However, if you really must know, you can figure out the distances for yourself. The Wall is a hundred leagues long. A league is three miles. Go from there.

But if you turn up any mistakes in travel times by using that measure, let it be your secret.

Littlefinger, Caligula, and Tyrion

[Is Littlefinger based on Caligula?]

Definitely not. Gaius Caligula was nuts, and Petyr Baelish is as sane as can be. Caligula was flamoyant and drew attention to himself. Littlefinger is more subtle.

[Why is Tyrion so great, and what inspired his creation?]

He's drawn from a wide variety of sources. Including myself. I'm taller.

Future Appearances in Madison

[A reader found out that he missed GRRM in Madison, Wisconsin.]

This happens every time I do a con or make an appearance. Inevitably, the week after I get back from Xville, someone emails to say, "Why don't you ever come to Xville?"

All I can say is, read the Appearances page of my website. All my scheduled appearances are listed there, for years in advance. The Oddcon listing has been up for at least three years.

[Will GRRM be appearing in Madison again soon?]

Well, I did a signing for in Madison for FEAST FOR CROWS in 2005, a signing for THE ICE DRAGON in nearby Dubuque, Iowa in 2006, and a signing for A CLASH OF KINGS in Milwaukee back in 1998 or so. So the odds are I will signing somewhere near you. Just watch my Appearances page.

That being said, anyone who truly wants to meet me would do better to come to a con than to a booksigning. At a con, we might end up drinking together in the con suite, and you'll hear me talk on panels, give readings, etc. Hours of quality time. At a booksigning, you'll get maybe thirty seconds while I sign your book.

Doorways and Writing for the Screen

[Which of the two pilots for Doorways would he prefer be used if it was picked up for airing on television?]

The original version, as seen in DREAMSONGS. Although the second half of the pilot as filmed could be used later as an episode.

[Who would GRRM cast in a new Doorways series?]

I love the cast we had. Anne LeGuernec, the French actress who played Cat, was wonderful, and would have become a major star if we had gone to series, I think.

[Television scripting vs. fiction writing.]

The forms are definitely different. Television and film requires a strong sense of structure and a good ear for dialogue. Prose requires... well, those, but also a good feel for, well, prose. (Nobody cares about elegant languages in the body copy of a screenplay).

Favorite Wild Cards Characters

That's a hard question. There are so many Wild Cards characters that I love... though, hell, I'm the editor, if I didn't love them, they would never have been included in the series in the first place.

Croyd Crenson would definitely have to be one of them. The Sleeper. All time best Wild Card character, the archetype for the series.

Fortunato, maybe. The heroic pimp was a real breakthrough character. Just think, Lew Shiner was twenty years ahead of those guys who won an Oscar for "It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp."

I also loved Jetboy. Although he only appeared in that one story, he set the tone for much that followed. Even so, I might have to pass him over for Gregg Hartmann. A good story needs a good villain, and Gregg was our best, with a story arc that went all the way from book one through book fifteen.

Mutliple POVs

[Did GRRM always mean to write from multiple POVs?]

Yes.

[What are the strengths and weaknesses of this method?]

It is really the only way to tell a large, sprawling, complex story if you are using a third-person, limited viewpoint, as I do.

Dragon Limbs and Gender, Valyrain Weapons, and Maesters’ Chains

[Number of dragon limbs?]

Two. The forelimbs are the wings.

[Are dragons male, female, hermaphroditic, or is there something magical involved in their reproduction?]

Sexing dragons is difficult. More in future books.

[Do all the Great Houses own Valyrian steel weapons?]

Oh, there are more Valyrian swords than we have seen so far. Not all of them belong to the Great Houses. Lesser nobility would oft purchase one as well, for the prestige, and sometimes knights or even lesser swords would acquire one on the battlefield, after the original owner fell. But there have been no more made since the Doom of Valyria.

[Can a maester's chain include multiple links of the same metal?]

Mulitple links are possible, and signify that the maester is especially accomplished in that area.

HBO Series Involvement

[GRRM is asked how involved he'll be in the HBO series, if it goes forward.]

If HBO does indeed go ahead with the series, I will be doing one script per season.

I can't do any more and still hope to finish the novels.

Adaptions of Other Works

[Any chance of his past work being optioned for future adaption to the screen, now that he's an international bestseller?]

Anything is possible, but I'm not holding my breath.

Favorite Character to Write

Tyrion. Arya is fun to write as well.

Other Races

[Are the children of the forest like elves, and are there other races besides them?]

No, no elves. The children are... well, the children.

Westeros has its giants too, so there are other races in my world. But no elves. Elves have been done to death.

Beauty and the Beast Fandom

[Does GRRM know there's still an active Beauty and the Beast fandom?]

It doesn't surprise me that there is still a B&B fandom, no.

In fact, I think there's two. The ones who embrace the entire series, and the ones who insist on "44 and No More." Are they still at war, after almost twenty years? I hope not.

I don't think either one is as large as it once was, but maybe I'm wrong.

Map of the World

[Willl we have a complete map of the world at the end of the series?]

The whole WORLD? No, definitely not. No European map of the middle ages could possibly have included the Americas or Australia, and even their ideas of China (Cathay) and India were rather... ah, inaccurate.

The regions where the action takes place, through which the characters move? Yes.

Meathouse Man Section Numbering

[GRRM is asked about the section numbering scheme for his novella, "The Meathouse Man"

That's a good question, and a hard one. It's been a couple of decades since I wrote that story. I had a profound and artistic reason for the numerbering, I recall, but just what it was...

One obvious difference, however, is that all the Arabic numerals reference song titles, and the content of those sections were in part inspired by those songs, or alluded to said content. The Roman numeral section titles are simply descriptive.

Future Appearances from Several Characters

[Willl Hot Pie, Gendry, Nymeria, Rickon and Shaggy be seen again or mentioned in A Dance with Dragons, or later in the series?]

Later in the series? Yes, to all of them.

In DANCE? Yes to some, no to others.

Wild Cards Stories

[Will GRRM write stories for the next two Wild Cards books?]

Sadly, no, but I will be heavily involved as editor.

Wild Cards Titles

[GRRM is asked who comes up with titles for the Wild Cards series, and whether titles for future Wild Cards books will be difficult to come up with, as they are all drawn from card game terminology.]

I come up with the titles.

Yes, we will eventually run out of "card" titles. There's a scene in CITIZEN KANE when Kane is informed that his paper lost a million dollars last year. "Yes," he says, "and I expect to lose a million dollars next year, and the year after that. If that keeps up, I'm going to have to close the paper... in thirty-seven years." (paraphrase)

Which is a long-winded way of saying that I already have enough titles for another twenty or thirty wild card books, if need be. Some are better than others, mind you, but we won't run out soon.

Wild Cards Roleplaying

Wild Cards grew from a roleplaying game you ran. Did you and your fellow writer-participants stop gaming in the setting when you started turning it into a book?

Yes. It was too confusing to do both at once.

And speaking of gaming, I know you still take part in regular gaming sessions. Is there a main campaign/setting that's played primarily, or are you guys sticking to shorter campaigns these days?

Well, we played in Walter Jon Williams' Rome game (GURPS) for a decade or more, but Walter hasn't been running that lately. More recently we're playing a space game run by Ty Franck, which uses a D20 system. Ty's game is great fun, but frankly I don't like D20 nearly as much as GURPS. (Old GURPS, 3rd edition, at least)

Polygamy in Westeros

[Would polygamous marriages be accepted in Westeros today, especially if Targaryens were involved?]

If you have some huge fire-breathing dragons, you can get people to accept a lot of things that they might otherwise have problems with.

Fates of Major Characters

[A reader asks about the future deaths of Jaime and Cersei.]

Sorry, but while I'm glad to tackle questions, I'm not going reveal anything of importance that will happen in future books, and certainly not the ultimate fate of major characters. You'll just need to keep reading.

Size of the Series and Cersei’s POV

[Growing size of the series and editorial concerns?]

No hard and fast rules here. It's all book by book. I have plenty of editors to give me input and suggestions. I don't think the success of the books impacts one way or the other. The artistic challenges would remain the same even if the books were being published by a small press for an audience of hundreds.

[Intentions behind making Cersei a POV, whether to make her sympathetic or not?]

I don't concern myself over whether my characters are "likeable" or "sympathetic." (I had my fill of that in television). My interest is in trying to make them real and human. If I can create a fully-fleshed three-dimensional character, some of my readers will like him/ her, or some won't, and that's fine with me. That's the way real people react to real people in the real world, after all. Look at the range of opinions we get on politicans and movie stars. If EVERYONE likes a certain character, or hates him, that probably means he's made of cardboard. So I will let my readers decide who they like, admire, hate, pity, sympathize with, etc. The fact that characters like Sansa, Catelyn, Jaime, and Theon provoke such a wide range of reactions suggests to me that I hav

Berbers and Dany

[Did the unrest during the transition between Arab and Berber rule inspire Dany's storyline?]

No. Sounds fascinating, but I'm afraid I don't have enough experience with the Berbers or their history to draw on them for inspiration.

Faith Militant’s inspiration and Ice and Fire dream cast

[Faith Militant based on the crusading orders?]

Yes, albeit loosely.

[Ice and Fire dream cast?]

I had a few actors in mind for particular parts when I was finishing up A GAME OF THRONES, along about 1995. Unfortunately, all those actors are twelve years older now, and the characters aren't. My original dream cast are likely all too old for the roles for which I first envisioned them.

Future meetings, POVs, Arya’s role, Eastern lands, and Assassins

[Will Sandor and Sansa meet?]

Why, the Hound is dead, and Sansa may be dead as well. There's only Alayne Stone.

[More POVs?]

Sigh. Yes. More in DANCE than I intended.

[Arya's future role in the series?]

No comment.

[Will POVs see any of the places to the east like Yi Ti, Asshai, etc.?]

Some, perhaps. I do not subscribe to the theory put forth in THE ROUGH GUIDE TO FANTASYLAND (a swell book, by the way) that eventually the characters must visit every place shown on The Map.

[Where are Bayasabhad, Shamyriana, and Kayakayanaya located? Will the warrior maids play a role?]

North and east of Vaes Dothrak. I don't anticipate their inhabitants playing a major role in this story.

[Are the Faceless Men and Sorrowful Men associated in any way?]

No. Very different views of what they do.

[Future meeting between Daenerys and Jon Snow?]

Keep reading

Various questions concerning Tywin, Oberyn, Gregor, the North, and Sansa

[Were there any bastards of Tywin Lannister?]

He'd have you flogged for the mere suggestion.

[Where was Oberyn Martell during the rebellion?]

Good question. Offhand, I don't recall the answer. Maybe in Dorne, maybe across the narrow sea with a sellsword company. I'd have to check my notes to be certain.

[Was Gregor Clegane knighted at Harrenhal?]

Don't think so, but again, I'd need to check my notes. I think Gregor was already a knight.

[Have there ever been a ruling Lady of Winterfell or Queen of Winter?]

No. Although I do hope to someday write the Dunk & Egg story where they travel to Winterfell and meet the She-Wolves.

[Are highborn ladies trained to a lot of practical things, like serving guests, making cheese, and so on?]H

Sansa is more than just a young lady. She's the daughter, not just of a noble, but of one of the most powerful nobles in Westeros. The great houses stand far above the lesser nobles, as the lesser nobles do above the smallfolk.

She would not make cheese, no. But Arya might think it would be fun.

Prologue POV for the Unsplit Feast

[GRRM is asked who would have been the prologue POV character, if A Feast for Crows had remained unsplit.]

Pate.

Loras, Robert Arryn, the Clegane Sister, and a Sword

[Are Mace Tyrell and the Queen of Thorns aware of Loras's sexuality?]

Yes and yes.

[Was Jon Arryn the father of Robert Arryn?]

So far as anyone knows. Without blood tests or DNA, establishing paternity was a lot more hit and miss.

[Is the sister of the Cleganes dead, and was she Tysha?]

Yes and no.

[Where is the sword Widow's Wail?]

Still at the Red Keep, until such time as King Tommen is old enough to wield it.

Sandor as a POV

[GRRM has previously announced that there is a new POV for A Dance with Dragons, and hinted that it was one of three character: Sandor Clegane, Loras Tyrell, and Melisandre. Which of them is it?]

Not Sandor.

Jokertown, the Turtle, and the Committee

[Will we see Jokertown again?]

We'll check in on Jokertown eventually, but it doesn't play a big roll in the current triad.

On the other hand, Jokertown is the main setting for Daniel's comic, THE HARD CALL.

[Whether the Great and Powerful Turtle will appear again.]

Maybe somewhere down the line, but he's essentially retired. He's almost old enough to be collecting Social Security by now. And that hot young girlfriend of his tires him out.

[Will "The Committee" be significant?]

Definitely.

Humor in Ice and Fire

[A reader suggests only Tyrion and Jaime appear to have a sense of humor.]

What, you don't think Dolorous Edd is funny?

I agree that humor has to be part of the mix. Even black humor, of the sort that policemen and fire fighters use, in part to distance themselves from the horrors they have to face daily on the job.

I think there's more humor in the books that you're seeing, however. But then again, "funny" is a most subjective thing.

The Sleeper and Zelazny

[What's going on with the popular character Croyd Crenson, and is it difficult using him since Roger Zelazny's passing.]

Croyd has a big role in the new Wild Cards comic, THE HARD CALL, just out from DBPro. The first issue just went on sale, so be sure to snatch up a copy.

Yes, you'll be seeing him in the books as well, but I won't say when or where. That would be telling.

We all miss Roger, both as a writer and a friend. He always enjoyed it when the rest of us made use of Croyd in our stories, so we mean on doing so, as our own little memorial to his genius.

Sandy Blair

[How autobiographical is Sandy Blair from The Armageddon Rag?]

There are autobiograhpical elements in many of my characters. After all, the only person you ever really truly know is yourself, so to make a character come alive, you need to delve inside.

That being said, I probably used more of the actual facts of my life in making Sandy Blair than any other character except Tom Tudbury of WILD CARDS. Personality wise, however, I suspect I have more of Tom in me than I do of Sandy.

Jon Snow’s Parentage

[Will we learn more of Jon Snow's parentage?]

Eventually, yes.

Ice and Fire Roleplay Origins

[GRRM is asked whether he's actually writing up the results of roleplaying game sessions.]

Sorry, no. WILD CARDS was based on a role-playing game I ran back in the 80s, but A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE has no ties to any rpg.

Germany, Nasmith, and HBO

[When will GRRM visit Germany?]

I last visited Germany in 2000 for a con in Leipzig. I also visited Berlin (great museums), checked out the Frankfurt Book Fair and the Essen Game Fair, went drinking with my fans in Dusseldorf and Cologne, and played the tourist along the Romantic Road.

I'm sure I'll be back one day, but offhand, I don't know when.

[Might GRRM be able to visit Germany this summer?]

No, afraid not. These days I book all my appearances three or more years in advance.

[Confirmation that Ted Nasmith is illustrating one of the limited editions of the A Song of Ice and Fire series from Subterranean Press]

Yes, Ted Nasmith is supposed to illustrate one of the books for SubPress. Tom Canty is doing A FEAST FOR CROWS and Marc Fishman will be illustrating A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, so Ted will likely be the artist on THE WINDS OF WINTER.

[Word on the proposed HBO series.]

In development. Nothing new I can announce.

Busted Flush Preview

[GRRM is asked when a preview of Busted Flush will be made available on his site.

Some time soon. At the moment we're still trying to get people to buy INSIDE STRAIGHT, since it's in the bookstores now, and BUSTED FLUSH won't be out until December.

Wild Cards Questions

[GRRM is asked if the character of Mushroom Daddy is an incarnation of Dr. Mark Meadows.]

No, he is not.

[GRRM is asked if Meadows will return to the series.]

Keep reading.

On Television

1) Have you watched any of the recently-released Beauty and the Beast DVDs? How does the show look on DVD, and how does it feel to look back on your work there?

I have the DVDs, but I haven't watched them yet, I'm afraid.

2) If a producer asked you to write the script for an episode of a currently-airing program on television, which would you want it to be? I suppose this may be the same as "What's your favorite program on the air right now", but if not, it'd be very interesting to know why.

Most of my favorite television programs were HBO series that have gone off the air in the last year or so -- ROME, DEADWOOD, THE SOPRANOS, etc. Of the shows still on the air, I suppose BATTLESTAR GALACTICA is my favorite, but that one is wrapping up too.

3) You've remarked that you're a "gardener" instead of an "architect" when it comes to writing novels. Do you feel TV series could work using the "gardening" approach for creative direction, or do the constraints of the format (budgets, production schedules, etc.) make the "architect" approach more typical? I'm thinking primarily in terms of the recent shifts away from more episodic television programs to series with running, season- or even multi-season-long story arcs, and the rise of complaints from fans when they discover less planning has gone into these arcs than they had supposed.

The nature of TV pretty much prohibits the "gardener" approach. Studios and networks want detailed outline at every step of the way, so they will have the opportunity to review everything, gives notes, request (demand) changes, and so forth. You can beat them off to some extent if you have the kind of clout that comes with a hit series, but they're always there lurking.

On Busted Flush

BUSTED FLUSH is finished and delivered, and has been scheduled for a December release.

Most of the spotlight will still remain on the characters introduced in INSIDE STRAIGHT, including Curveball, Drummer Boy, John Fortune, the Amazing Bubbles, and the rest of the AMERICAN HERO crew, but you'll also meet several brand new aces that we think you'll like... and yes, some of the original characters from the old series will be present as well. Cameo will be back in her own story, written by Kevin Andrew Murphy, and one of the original stalwarts first seen in volume one will return... though not, perhaps, as you last remember him.

Completion of DANCE

Depends on when I finish it, and whether you live in the US or elsewhere. If I can deliver before the end of June, as I hope, you'll see the book this fall. If not, well...

Watch my website for updates.

Odyssey Con 2008 (Madison, WI; April 4-6 2008)
Submitted By: Davos

The first, on friday night, was discussing POV's. It was intending to be a panel on managing multiple POV's but it became more of a discussion of character building and how the writer relates to his characters. Nothing we haven't really heard before. Still its a priviladge to hear a writer of George's calibre talk about aspects of his art at length. The panel was well moderated and there were a couple of other pros on it, though not names I knew that also had quite a bit interesting to contribute. Couple of highlights from GRRM's comments: 1. He strongly prefers limited 3rd person point of view as compared with first person or omnicient 3rd person. Probably obvious to any read of ASoIaF. Still, this is a artistic preference that he strongly feels and not just something that he finds works well in his current project. 2. He tends to write from a single POV a couple chapters at a time to stay with the same voice. Switch POV's can cost him a couple of days of writing to be able to get back into the voice of the person who's viewpoint he is writing from. He goes back and rereads the last couple of chapter's he's written from that POV to help him. 3. Writing the the kids is the hardest. Not new information. He clarrified why that is though. He finds he has to check every sentences to make sure its something a child would think or so and to check every word to make sure it is one a child would know. Because he doesn't have children nor has many children in his life he doesn't have a model to work from expect his own childhood which makes it far more a stretch.

The second panel, on Saturday morning, was on writing for TV compared with writing novels. While there were other panelists most of it became George and the moderator (Jim Frenkel, senior editor for Tor) sharing stories and complaining about the the world of TV from the writer's perspective. Its lucritive but apparently a real pain in the arse.

A couple of notes, though nothing big from the Q&A seccion following the reading: 1. He's hoping to have ADwD done by June. He seemed reasonably confident that this could be done. He said though, that if he can't get it done but sometime that month that it would be delayed quite a bit more. He has a busy summer coming up after that which will not allow him time to work. So if its done by June, we should see the book by christmas if not earlier. If not then its going to be a while. 2. He still really thinks he can get it done in 7 total books though there did seem to be a bit more doubt on that lingering behind his words. That was my impression though, not anything that George actually said. He is commited to the 7 book idea at the moment. 3. The HBO show is still in limbo. Which we already knew.

That was about it for noteworthy material. Any panel George is on though is enjoyable and worth attending.

Odyssey Con 2008 (Madison, WI; April 4-6 2008)
Submitted By: E.E. Knight

[Note: The following report is excerpted from a LiveJournal post by author E. E. Knight, with his permission. It should be emphasized that this is a rough transcript, and features paraphrases throughout rather than being word-for-word.]

Okay, here's my write up of the Martin panel on characterization. Well, it was about a lot of stuff but mostly characters and points of view.

Please, keep in mind that this is a rough transcript. The description of what was said is as accurate as I could make them typing on my laptop but I had to paraphrase here and there, therefore I'm not using any quotation marks. I'm sure I made errors. So don't write George R.R. Martin and say that you don't understand what he said or you think he screwed the pooch with his Gandalf observation unless you were actually there, m'kay? All errors of style are mine.

The panelists were:

Monica Valentinelli (moderator) (MV) free-lance writer of games and fiction
Sean T. M. Stiennon - (SS) college student, some short fiction and an anthology
Richard Chwedyk - (RC) Nebula winner, short story writer
George R.R. Martin (GRRM)

What sorts of characters do you like to write?

GRRM: I like to write many different kinds of characters - part of the reason my books have multiple viewpoints - people perceive differently. Different POVs allow you to explore all the varieties of humanity - people you can love, loathe, or have mixed feelings about. The goal is to let you understand the characters even if you find them reprehensible.

Do you prefer some over the others?

GRRM: I like all of them when I’m writing them.

I don’t believe in omniscient viewpoints. It gets in the way of understanding the character. The reader must see the world as the character would experience it as they’re living events. The 3rd limited allows closer identification and deeper understanding of how the character sees the world. Once you get inside them the common humanity makes you sympathetic with them.

Did you hate any?

GRRM -The act of writing them makes you like or understand them.

RC (or possibly MV)- Characterization is kind of like method acting, do everything you can to get in the role of the character.

Any way to get into the mood to write?

GRRM - I wish I had something entertaining to describe, but it’s just me in front of the computer, no strange creative rituals.

Different character creation for gaming and fiction?

GRRM - Told a story about a superhero turtle, with many hindrances to improve his armor. Recreated him for Wildcards fiction to make it more interesting.

MV: Challenging in writing game fiction is that I had to imitate powers and game mechanics exactly. Book packagers were demanding that she adhere to game mechanics right down to time spent concentrating and so forth.

GRRM: You can’t just take your games and make fiction of them. Today the most common story sent in to sf/fantasy genre editors is someone who has written up their RPG - often starts with meeting in a tavern. Start a story in a tavern and it’s coming right back to you.

RC: I’ve read some of those manuscripts.

SS: Characters have to be beyond a list of traits, they need personality.

GRRM: Would like to write about leper king of Jerusalem - has a lot of empathy for his problems and it’s a fascinating exercise to try to get into his mind. Creation of a character who is not like yourself is very difficult. You have to be able to project yourself into these different kinds of people.

How do the tropes influence your writing?

GRRM: You have to be aware of them but you have to smash them with hammers and make up your own. Tolkien twisted an old cliché of elves (tiny faeries) into something else - met with resistance from his editors at first, arguing over what an elf or dwarf is. Now Tolkien is the cliché. Can’t just regurgitate them you have to do something with them.

RC: Games are open ended - with certain characters I know the ending. There’s a gravestone waiting - there’s a dramatic structure to a story. You’re focusing on a very crucial moment in a characters life and you know the outcome.

MV: Purpose of a game character is to make it playable. In fiction the point is to make it readable and interesting as possible. When I write I don’t know how they’ll play off everyone else.

GRRM: How you experience life is unique to you, and it should be unique to each character. You have to somehow get from inside your body and into theirs - we all see life through one set of eyes, none of us are telepaths, we all have internal monologues - at the same time we’re experiencing the world.

Use of POV has to be structured, has to be under control. Have a reason for switching POVs. The big problem is when you’re switching promiscuously is it’s not clear.

MV: A common pitfall of new authors is to try to do too many POVs.

RC: 3rd person omniscient is annoying to read. It’s tough.

Character creation process?

GRRM: Hopefully you know the general shape of your story. Writers generally come in two flavors: architechts and gardeners - gardeners plant a seed which is the character and in the earth which is the world you created and you water it with your blood.

Is it hard to write when a character dies?

GRRM: It can be tough. Hardest chapter I ever wrote was the death of a character - had to skip over it for a long time. Part of the process is emotional - something like grief, because you’re dealing with the grief of the characters who knew the person, also the commercial consequences, what will editor and readers think of this. But it’s good to kill someone off now and then. Tolkien made the wrong choice when he brought Gandalf back. Screw Gandalf. He had a great death and the characters should have had to go on without him.

RC: Death has a strong effect, writing a death’s been murder. Opening scenes leading up to death have been incredibly difficult to write.

GRRM: My books deal with death, but I do try and deal with mourning and grief. There’s a moral component to people who kill.

Horror stories in the 19th century were morality plays, showing how a flaw in a character brings about a tragic downfall. Innocent characters being killed by the horror is a more modern version - we have rules. "The Grudge" doesn’t obey any rules as to the guilt or innocence of who it kills.

RC: SF is a way of looking at the world that isn’t tied to a story or genre structure. There aren’t demands on characters short of space opera.

Favorite character?

GRRM : Tyrion in Ice and Fire. Abner Marsh in Fevre Dream.

Glad to hear you pronounce the names

GRRM: In my youth I had a strong NJ accent, only reader in family, knew a lot of words that I had never heard spoken aloud. When I went away to college I found I was pronouncing a lot of these words wrong. I came to not care much about pronunciation. Pronounce the names of my characters however you like.

There are dangers in being a gardener, the story can run away from you - Shakespeare had to kill Mercutio because he was taking over play.

RC: Has a character who thinks of herself as a background character in revolt against being a background character.

How important is religion and myth in your stories?

GRRM: Mythos is important and it can also be very difficult. An author’s beliefs color the character, audience’s beliefs color it. Easier for me to write a secular character or someone who mocks and insults the gods than it is to write a sincerely devout character. It’s a secular society, especially our sf/fantasy readers.

How do you keep dialogue distinct in different points of view - how do you bring personality through dialogue?

GRRM: What appears between quotation marks is what was said. But you don’t have to quote everything a person says. You can paraphrase, or use someone’s perception to illustrate their character. Can present dialogue as stream of consciousness.

RC: Make sure the voices are distinct and what they’re saying is important enough you don’t want to paraphrase it. Try and strengthen dialog with each draft.