I was lucky enough to sit next to George and have a drink at the party. I asked him how they built the Eyrie and did they use any magic. He said no magic, they just built it slowly. And as I didn't win anything in the BwB raffle at the party, I got a consolation hug from George.
[Note: This report is a tiny bit spoilerish, describing both the identity of the prologue character but also the identity of which POV has the first chapter in the book, a detail we have not previously had. If you're interested in reading full reports and speculation on the prologue, visit this thread on the A Song of Ice and Fire forum.]
Hello everyone. My name is James--I was at AussieCon, and as a part of my write up for Dragonmount I included reports on the HBO panel with George, a transcript of his reading of the prologue, my recount of the BWB party and what I remembered from the coffee talk with him (basically nine of us at a table with him for an hour talking). I thought I'd share those with you--hope you enjoy.
I'm not gonna put the transcript up straight away because I'm not sure how you guys handle spoiler stuff like that. Can someone post and let me know?
HBO panel at AussieCon
We also did make it to pretty much every panel with George R. R. Martin on it. Friday’s one was about the HBO series, which was hysterical because George wasn’t allowed to actually say anything about it. He wanted to show us a trailer, promo pictures, behind the scenes stuff and at each point HBO was like "oh no, you can’t show that! It will ruin everything!" right up to and including his own personal pictures taken in morocco. So it was a very strange panel—one where he couldn't speak about what he was supposed to speak about.
It was nonetheless awesomely fun. I could sit and listen to George talk about nothing, frankly. He's brilliant. In this case George told us about his past in television. He worked on both the Twilight Zone (at one point he was speaking about working on Twilight, which horrified me until I realised he'd gotten distracted and simply hadn't finished his sentence) and the tv show Beauty and the Beast. He said that his scripts were always too long, with too many characters, which led to him eventually deciding to write A Song of Ice and Fire—where he would have thousands of characters (I think the phrase he used was "families with a hundreds of members, rather than three").
So essentially, he set out to make A Song of Ice and Fire "unfilmable". Yet when something hits the bestseller list (especially a series, thanks to Star Wars and LotR), Hollywood will sniff around. The problem was length—Lord of the Rings (the entire three part trilogy) was the length of game of thrones. Three, three hour movies to do one of his books. Twelve to do all the books currently written. Twenty one to do the entire series. As such all pitches for a filmed aSoIaF were along the lines of "Ned’s clearly the main character, let’s cut everything but him", and "Dany is on another continent, let’s get rid of her". Then finally came the suggestion—a HBO mini-series.
If I walked away from that panel thinking anything, it was that I now feel safe that the adaption is being handled with the care it deserves. No Legend of the Seeker rip offs, so yay for that. The one other thing I remember was George saying something like that now he’s met the young actors he wants to go back and change the books so they’re nicer. He wrote these horrible things happening, and now lovely young people have to act it. He was quite funny about it.
Brotherhood Without Banners Party
Was a lot of fun. I understand there were all sorts of problems with the hotel, which was crap, but I nevertheless had a brilliant night. Me and my freind Josh got to meet George. Josh asked him whether the triangle between Rhaegar, Lyanna and Robert was meant to be a tripod on which the series stood, and George said no. (Don't ask me why he asked that. Josh has some weird concepts). There was more to George's answer too, but I don't remember, sadly. By this point I'd had several of the tasty beverages the BWB were kind enough to provide us with. I did get a photo with him though. :)
Then I got to meet several of the BWB, including Stubby and Neal. Those guys were so awesome--we chatted about the organisation of the party--which sounded nightmarish with all the mess ups on the behalf of the crown plaza, so more power to them--and then they gave me a limited edition brotherhood without banners badge, which rocked! They also gave me a whole bunch of Wheel of Time bumper stickers to hand out at the WoT panel the next day, and a Brandon Sanderson/Way of Kings bracelet which I later learned glowed in the dark--I tell you, waking up at three in the morning to Brandon Sanderson glowing a vibrant green inches from your face is an experience!
Then the raffle happened and Josh won! Which I suppose stands to reason because he bought twenty tickets. But still, awesome. Josh asked George what he should take, and George said the Pat Rothfuss illustrated book--and it was awesome. It's called The Adventures of The Princess and Mr Whiffle, and lookes like a childrens illustrated book--with a gold sticker on the front that says "This shit is not for children. Seriously!" And it wasn't, but it was cool. :)
That was about it. Josh and I went back to our room, and did normal pre-bed stuff--you know, brush your teeth, debate the inherent implausibility of the concept of perfection, get a drink of water--and went to sleep.
Coffee Talk With GRRM
More writer based panels, and then Kaffelatches with George R. R. Martin. Now I translate Kaffelatches as "Word I Cannot Pronounce", but apparently it means "coffee talk". So that’s what we did, sat around drinking coffee (or in my case hot chocolate because I’m like twelve), and chatting with George. Which is precisely as awesome as it sounds. There were nine of us, and I got to sit directly besides George (through some degree of active bullying, I’ll admit).
Someone had brought George Tim Tams, which I hadn’t realised was an Australian thing only. Then another person at the table informed George that he had no idea who he was, to which George replied "That’s ok, I have no idea who you are either." Then we discussed football, and I got the glazed expression I always get when people discuss football around me. George certainly seemed to get a kick out of it though.
Then someone asked about fan fiction, which George says he’s asked about often. He said that no he doesn’t like fan fiction, and he made the point that it doesn’t help the writer grow. He spoke of when he was young he would write what was then called "fan fiction", which was not writing other peoples characters, but rather if you were a fan of super hero comics you would write your own superhero. It was fans writing fiction. He also pointed out that they haven’t paid for this right, and that if they wanted to write fan fiction then they should approach the publisher or the author and buy the right to do so.
He brought up slash fan fiction, and said he’s been called a homophobe for being against it, and that he’s not a homophobe and there are gay characters in aSoIaF, he just doesn’t want people making his straight characters gay any more than he’d want people making his gay characters straight. It was then asked if he saw role playing as different, and he said yes. Writing your own voice in the world was like a way of exploring the world, expanding. I asked if he then had problems with roleplayers changing canon events—say keeping the Kingdom of the North alive and well to allow you to roleplay in Robb’s court, and he spoke of the fact that alterations for the good of the new medium happen—he used video games as an example. He didn’t seem as concerned with that, as with altering characters.
I’d gotten the sense that he’d faced a lot of flack for his hard stance against fan fiction, so I asked him if he had to deal a lot with the fans sense of entitlement. He replied that he had to deal a lot with the fans sense of entitlement for a Dance With Dragons, and then he spoke about some of the emails he received, and how they could be quite hurtful and nasty. He spoke also about having to moderate messages on his blog because of trolls, and how much he hated that—not just because they were writing attacks against him, but because then his fans would come through and protect him, which would lead to fights which he felt bad about.
Then he spoke about the opposite, receiving grand reviews like "GRRM has written the best book since Tolkien", which was awesome, who wouldn’t want to hear that? And then the next days he sits down to write "the best scene since tolkien" and goes "oh fuck!". That got a good laugh.
I asked whether he’d enjoyed the Suvudu cage match, and he said he had. He said he hadn’t really cared about it, but then they’d chosen Jaime. He said something along the lines of "there are all these characters with super powers, and they give me a swordsman who’s lost his sword hand. What the fuck am I supposed to do with that?" And everyone had a good chortle. He said he hadn’t gotten involved until the second match when they’d put Jaime against Cthulu, and that then he’d felt he had to—and so he wrote a way for Jaime to win, which was essentially having Tyrion ensure Cthulu never shows up to begin with.
Then he spoke of the battle with Rand, and the rabid Wheel of Time fans (said with affection) and someone outed me as a WoT Admin on Dragonmount, and George gave me a look like "Oh, you’re one of those are you." Heh. Then he spoke about Robert Jordan—he’d met him a fair number of times at conventions and the like, and they’d gotten on very well.
Someone asked him about music influencing (something—his writing, the HBO, not sure, I missed this question, but made a quip about the fates and allegiances of minstrels in aSoIaF always being nasty, which got a laugh, so yay). He then gave some advice about writing—said that people, including him, too often told instead of showing, but then went into further depth than I’ve ever heard, pointing out the insane overuse of eyes. He told us he hadn’t even noticed what colours our eyes were, much less whether they were "shifty". He said look around the table and see if you can see someone shifty, and three of us all pointed to the same guy at the one moment, which got a laugh (he was a nice guy).
Then Paris (George’s partner) arrived on this moped thing and called out "I’m here to pick you up darling", and they joked back and forth a bit. It was pretty cute—they’re both just like big kids. And that was sort of it. Paris had a Tim Tam and we all said bye, and then I walked outside and bounced off walls for an hour.
Ran, I am sorry I didn’t ask George a single ASOAIF related question, however I did ask him whether he had ever considered revisiting his "Thousand Worlds" mythos and perhaps filling in some of the back story. His answer was (as best as I can remember) that he wrote those almost thirty years ago and that he is a different person and writer now, so it would be very difficult.
I’ve just typed up a few questions that WERE able to be asked today. I will try to ask more at the party tomorrow as well. Now, these aren’t from a transcript…they’re not word for word. They’re the answers he gave in essentially the wording he used, but I’ve written it from my notes and memory. He also mentioned that he’s really overall very pleased with the actors, especially the children. He said Maisie, Isaac, and Sophie are all amazingly talented, grounded actors. One story involved Isaac climbing to the top of these stone walls and towers with a harness on and just having no fear. Was great to see him so excited about the people breathing life into his works.
In any case, here’s the questions and answers so far:
1) Q: To what extent are you consulted when it comes to additions or changes to the story to make sure it doesn’t create inconsistencies for you that’s in store for the rest of the series. Have you had to review any secrets of the book series the eighth and development of the show?
A: Yes I have actually, there have been many meetings and such to discuss this and the result has been I had to share several secrets of the upcoming books In order to help out with the writing of the series itself.
2) Q: Do you think that once the show comes out and you begin watching it, It’ll influence what you write in the rest of the books? I.e. do you think you’ll be influenced by the actors and write something that maybe when you wouldn’t have otherwise written?
A: My honest answer is I don’t know. I will try everything I can to not let it influence me but the fact is, I’m human and I’ll be watching the show just like everybody else and who knows what will happen? I like to think that nothing will influence what I have in store for these characters and the rest of the books.
3) Q: Are the designs for the costumes and swords and that sort of thing brand-new or are they taking it from you and existing art, posters, replicas, miniatures etc. Do you influence them? Because we know you’ve given descriptions in the books and that sort of thing… or are they being designed by artists and set designers from scratch?
A: Honestly it’s entirely brand-new. HBO has been doing it their own way with their own artists and designers because to take it from anything existing would breach copyright infringement. So for the sake of legal reasons as well is artistic pride, it’s really been done for the ground up and it will be HBO’s version of all these designs, elements, weapons and armor and that sort of thing.
4) Q: Have you seen any of the footage that’s been shot so far?
A: I’ve seen a rough cut of the pilot that was put together and I’ve been there for some shooting so far and everything that I’ve seen really looks great. I’m very excited about it–Very happy with it so far.
Stubby had introduced me to George earlier in the day, and it was so fantastic to finally meet him, shake his hand and have a chat. My day would have been absolutely great just with that experience, but wait, there's more ... dinner with George - I'm sat a fair ways down the table away from George, but honestly it was perfect to begin the evening like that. Paxter was sat opposite George and Cam made a joke about whether he would accept $50 to swap spots. Later Parris left the table and Cam had an opportunity to sit next to George for a while. After the meals were eaten, Paxter and Ski got up together (obviously sharing a room featuring a frosted glass window to the ensuite is not enough! :lmao: ) and I said to simhanada "QUICK let's move down GO GO GO!!!" and I ended up getting to sit right opposite George for the rest of the night, so so so so cool!
Today George talked about the HBO series, he said he wanted to show us photos that he'd taken when he was on set for some filming, but HBO wouldn't let him because it showed the actors in costume (oh my! like we can't imagine what they're going to look like!) and bits of set in the background. So instead he just talked generally about the bringing his books to the screen, thought I don't think there was particularly anything that I didn't know.
I did my best for Jake to get him into the show, at dinner last night I told him in front of George that I could see him as a knight!! HINT HINT GEORGE!!! It's true though - Jake could definitely pass for one of Renly's knights of summer. Oh, and also last night, I was very impressed that George himself brought up that very taboo subject of which we must not speak, and again today in his panel he mentioned it, so I think finishing the series is very much foremost in his mind, even though sometimes it might appear that he's not focussed on it.
So I got my ASoIaF calendar first thing this morning - after hearing last night that they were just about sold out, I was very relieved. George is doing a signing tomorrow after his reading - I'm thinking Valar Dohaerys will look good on the cover.