At Trinoc GRRM confirmed he has several publishers interested in the 3rd Dunk and Egg story he just hasn't settled "on the best venue" yet. He also said that D & E will be collected into a book and that all of the stories he has planned will not fit into one volume.
Another interesting thing from the con, at one point in a panel GRRM was commenting that he didn't like how in a lot of fantasy stories various races are all defined by a single personality (i.e. all orcs are evil, all elves are wise, etc), whereas it would be more realistic for various individuals within a race to have different personalities, viewpoints, etc. Some quick-witted audience member asked him how that idea applied to the Others in his own books, to which he replied, "I'm not gonna answer that." Food for thought.
Nobody as relayed this-but the question about this did come up with GRRM at the last con. And his answer was-basically... forget about it. For now there is nothing happening and he said that HBO could loose their option (let it run out). They are still waiting for an initial script and that would probably be rejected, a new one resubmitted, etc. It sounded to me like the option was probably going to expire with nothing happening - but that is just my take on what he said when the question was asked during the reading as well as later.
Oh, George said all the Stark children of this generation were full Wargs. I thought they were like one shot Wargs and were only bonded to their wolves but no they can warg into just about anything. Bran is just the only one working on it.
We did talk quite a bit of football...
I believe that he said that he felt that the Jets would do better than the Giants this year (i hope i didn't get that backwards)...He's very knowledgeable about football. I lament the fact that i had other duties at that particular time.
As far as fans of Oberyn (of which I'm the biggest, of course), I was talking to him about how much I liked the character even though we only got to spend a short amount of time with him and that the mountain killing him was my throw the book across the room moment. He then asked me how much I liked his daughters. I answered that I liked them quite a bit and that the Martells are my favorite family in Westeros. He commented that I should be very pleased with some of the coming events then.
I'll post more details and stuff later. It was really great meeting everyone. we had 19 people at dinner, and when we invided George to party with us in our rooms, he countered with inviting us up to his suite. He made sure he talked to most people up there at least a little. It was great being able to be that personal with him. an all around awesome experience.
Most of us were not pre-registered, but that wasn't a problem. Registration was opened pretty late too. As far as I know, it went rather smoothly for most of us.
The biggest problems were of course with the schedule. As noted earlier, it wasn't until nearly the last 2 weeks that a schedule was even posted online and only a day or so before that the program had been posted. Of course the schedule that was posted was drastically different from the schedule given to us at the con. Eventually we got it figured out. The only real problem after that was with George's reading. The "Reading Room" had a capacity of 25. stunned.gif of course 3 times this number wanted to hear George. More then a few missed the reading because of this. Plus points to the con though, they very quickly realized the problem and moved us down to the large room where the meet and greet was held and moved those 6 people up to the reading room. Any of those that had stuck around trying to stand in the back or hear from the doorway were now all able to sit and listen to the reading.
Immediately after the reading, SSE and I talked to George and made dinner plans. The hotel staff was great in helping us out, letting us know of a good local place and such.
I don't think many of us spent much time in the con hospatality suite as mine and LP's rooms served for most of the BwB, but I did stop down there Sunday morning to give them our left over sodas. It seemed nice and well stocked and the people were very friendly and inviting.
All in all, the con was a great experience with very minor problems once it got going.
DWD is not done. George believes writing is an art and he has to find the right words and the right structure and that takes time and some re-writes. He still hopes for seven books.
He may write other stories in the IAF world that take places 100's of years before or 100's of years after.
He is a student of popular history and likes the story aspect of them. But he does like the sensation of not knowing what is going to happen next.
His experience in television influences the way IAF is written through act breaks that hook the readers.
Wildcards too was a training ground for ASOIAF. IAF is a Wildcards mosaic novel with George telling all the parts.
About the HBO series. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are writing the screenplay. They have written the first draft of the pilot and have sent it to HBO for revision. There will be twelve hours worth of shows and George will write one hour. As for it all actually happening, George has not yet "bought the couch" meaning it is definitely not set in stone.
There are plans for nine D+E stories covering their whole life.
The concept of heroes and villains is a false dichotomy, in George's opinion. Real human beings are a mixture of good and evil.
All the characters are in danger.
There will be no gods on stage in the books and the reader will have to decide whether there are gods or not.
Once the books are done, we will have such a detailed description of Robert's Rebellion that a prequel will not be necessary or at least have little suspense.
The challenge with IAF is that he has to publish each book as it is written so he doesn't get to go back and edit earlier volumes like he would if had won the lottery.
I asked Ran's question about the King of Mountain and Vale [how they came to fall under the rule of the Targaryens] and George told me to keep reading for that one.
[Note: The video is a brief excerpt from the event. Following it is a transcript, provided by Bazzlebane and reposted with permission from Random House.]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrgHwugkitY
Setting: Bantam Dell Bookstore on Sheep Island in Second Life.
The MC is "Beelzebub Rasmussen". The event starts with BR promoting the post-reading raffle, and then he introduces GRRM.
BR: Without further ado, we'd like to bring down the man of the hour, who has shown up as Tyrion this evening, which was actually selected by the fans. You all know him as the best-selling author of the Song of Ice and Fire cycle including A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords and the best-selling A Feast for Crows. As I mentioned, his new compendium is coming out this fall, in two volumes, called Dreamsongs Volume I and Volume II. So if you all could give a big round of applause, and a big Second Life welcome, for George R.R. Martin. Welcome George.
GRRM: Well, I'm thrilled to be here.
BR: You can tell there is a wonderful, wonderful packed crowd in the main room here as well as all the affiliate sites, so everyone is very excited to see you.
GRRM: Strange looking crowd...
BR: So, to kick things off, I know you do want to read from Dreamsongs, and we're going to follow that with a little Q&A, so whenever you are ready please go ahead.
GRRM: Well, certainly. Dreamsongs, for those of you who are not familiar with it, is a collection of my works of fiction, screenplays and other things that I have written over the course of my career. A retrospective, if you will, of my work all the way from the stuff I wrote as a high school kid in the 60s up until some of my more recent work, including the Hedge Knight novella, that was a prequel to ASOIAF. I'm going to read a little bit of the first fantasy story I ever had published professionally, which I thought would be something that would appeal since this crowd is a crowd of fantasy readers, I assume for the most part. This story in a strange way [reflects] many different aspects of my career, since it actually has its roots in some of things I came up with for comic book fanzines as a high school kid but it also in some ways inspired a television show I created in the 90s, a pilot, and it's a precursor of sorts to A Song of Ice and Fire. So the name of the story is The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr.
GRRM READS A PASSAGE
GRRM: I'll stop there.
BR: Everybody how about a big round of applause for George there, and everyone is real excited to hear that. So we want to take a little break, because you are going to read something a little special in a little bit but we do want to throw a few questions at you if that is okay with you.
GRRM: That's good, that’s good, I'll throw a few answers back.
BR: Obviously, there are some very specific questions about the characters in the book, so I thought we’d start a little bit more general and then can kind of pare our way down there. And this one is very general but I think kind of an interesting [one], and one you’ve answered a million times before, but which fantasy authors do you really like?
GRRM: Well, you know there are a number of them. There is a lot of great fantasy out there. Of course, J.R.R. Tolkien, I think is the giant who looms above the entire realm of fantasy. I read Lord of the Rings when I was back in Junior High School still writing those stories for fanzines and it had a profound effect on me. I re-read it every few years, so obviously Tolkien would have to top any list of my own favorites. Another writer that I'm enormously in love with is Jack Vance, who I think is our greatest living Science Fiction and Fantasy author. Vance has written a lot more science fiction than fantasy but he exceeds at both realms. His Dying Earth, which [was] originally was published in the late 40s or early 50s, is a seminal work and he’s done some wonderful fantasy ever since. I read a Vance book the moment it comes out; anytime a new one comes I put down whatever I'm doing and go right to it. But there [is] also a lot of other good fantasy being done -- I could answer this question for a long, long time, but I think Tolkien and Vance would have to top any list of mine. They've been on top of my personal hit parade for decades now.
BR: Okay, this one [relates] a little more specifically to the Song of Ice and Fire cycle, and this is actually from "Grafcar Soderstrom" who asks when did you start imagining the realm of the Seven Kingdoms, and how did you go about forming them into what everyone has read in the books?
GRRM: Well, I actually started work on the cycle in 1991. I was doing a lot of work in Hollywood at the time but I had sort of a gap between assignments and I was home for the summer. It had been a while since I had done a novel, and I had begun a science fiction novel that I had been planning for some time. I had written about 70 or 80 pages for that and it was going pretty well when one day I just got an idea for what turned out to be the first chapter of A Game of Thrones, the scene where they find the direwolf carcass in the snow.
It just came to me so vividly and so powerfully I just knew I had to write it so I started work on that the very next morning. I knew it wasn't part of the book I was currently working on, I didn’t know what it was part of, but I had to get it down on paper, and indeed I did. When I finished that I knew what the next chapter would be so I went on from that and the next thing I knew I had forgotten about the science fiction novel and I was writing this entirely different book. And some point, when I was about 3-4 chapters in, I stopped and drew a map, which is probably the first step of imagining the seven kingdoms and Westeros. So the world grew up together with the story, the two of them growing side by side. It was not a case as Tolkien did where he completely imagined the world first, for decades, before he finally started to write Lord of the Rings.
BR: Okay. This one [relates to] a little more craft, here, and the question is, when writing, do you feel it is more important to wait for inspiration before writing or try and grind it out?
GRRM: Well, I think it is a bit of both, but as a professional writer, as someone who makes his living in this, there is a necessity to produce the work. You can sit around waiting for inspiration for decades if you go that route, and you wind up not writing anything at all. There is no doubt that some days and with some chapters or with some sequences I feel more inspired than others, there are wonderful days where the book seems to practically write itself and I get up and I start to have my morning coffee and I look up and its dark outside and my coffee is still sitting next to me ice cold.
But there are also days where it is a matter of grinding it out, or the work is not coming well, I end up re-writing what I did before or re-writing what I did last week or just re-writing the same sentences over and over again or giving up on one chapter and going to a different chapter hoping it’ll go better or I’ll be a little more inspired. It’s not necessarily an easy gig, but then again, if it was, everyone would be doing it.
BR: That's very true. A few more specific questions now. This one [is] from "Podrick Payne" -- who is your favorite character to write for?
GRRM: You're looking at him, kid! Yeah, it's Tyrion. It's always been Tyrion. His chapters are the ones that most often write themselves. He’s a bit of a smart-aleck, he’s very driven, he’s very tormented, all of that makes for rich stuff, and I enjoy writing the Tyrion chapters. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s safe, but he is my favorite character in A Song of Ice and Fire.
BR: Another question very specific about the characters. This one is actually from "Derek Marillon". Are we going to see much more of Lady Stark?
GRRM: You can see…much more? How much is much? You will see some more of her, yes.
BR: Very cryptic. So now something a little bit back to the craft, and then I'll think we’ll have you read the next piece you have ready for everybody. This is from "Ina Centaur". How do you plan a novel, specifically a story or a saga?
GRRM: There is no single answer for that. Every writer has his own method and what works for me isn't what is necessarily going to work for everyone else and what works for them might not work for me. When I do a book I tend to liken it to a journey. As if I was setting out to drive from New York to Los Angeles. I know where I am and I know my ultimate destination. I may look at some maps or get a triptych from Triple A, and I'll know the route in between. I'm going to go by Chicago, and I'll follow route 66 for a while and you know, maybe I'll take a detour here or something like that and eventually I'll wind up in Los Angeles.
But there is a lot that I don't know setting out. I don't know where I'm going to spend every night, because I'm just sort of driving and stopping when I get tired. I don't know where I'm going to hit a detour, or when I'm going to pick up an interesting hitchhiker or what kind of meals I'm going to have along the road. These are the things that make the journey come alive, that make it something more than something you plan on a piece of paper or map. So I think it's the same for the book, I mean, I know my ultimate destination, I know the principle routes I’m going to use to get there, but there [are] a lot of the fine details that I actually discover during the course of the writing. For me that’s a lot of the fun of the writing.
There are other writers who outline very, very thoroughly who know everything they are going to put into a book, what every scene is going to be, what characters are going to be in it, what they are going to say, etc. Their outlines are almost the book in shorthand. I've never been able to work that way. For one thing, it almost feels if you prepare an outline like that, it almost feels like you've already written the book. When you're actually writing the book, it feels like you are doing it again, and it becomes sort of tedious, and I think you lose some of the spontaneity and some of the joy that should be there in the writing. I prefer to use my methods. They're not for everybody. There may be other writers out there who prefer to take different routes to get their books out there.
BR: One thing I do want to ask you about is that you have the two volumes of Dreamsongs coming out, and you had a long career as a short story writer long before you even started A Song of Ice and Fire cycle, -- you even addressed it a little bit in your podcast in the episode about "Weird Things". Even if you could just talk briefly about that and what you liked about being a short story writer and writing the stories that are going to be in the two volumes:
GRRM: Well, of course you're going back a million years here to the 60s and early 70s, when the world was young and dinosaurs roamed the earth. But I still tell young writers today when people ask me for writing advice that the best way to begin is with short stories. Science fiction & fantasy is fortunate because we have still viable markets for short fiction, which isn't true of a lot of fields of literature. We still have several monthly magazines coming out -- Analogue, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy, magazines that publish science fiction and fantasy stories every month and they are always looking for new writers. So there's opportunity there for a new writer to break in, and it's a way you can learn your craft and certainly was for me.
If you look at my early short stories, some of which are in Dreamsongs, some of which are not, you can see I was trying many different things. I would write a science fiction story one month, the next month I would write a fantasy story or a ghost story, a horror story. I would experiment with a first person story, I would try something written in present tense, [and] I would do collaborations with other young writers of the time such as Lisa Tuttle or Harold Waldrop hoping to learn something from them. Writing short stories is a way you can do all of that, you can experiment with different things, you can try different styles until you ultimately find your own, [and] learn your own tools of the trade. Now of course when you are going through that learning process sometimes it doesn't work out and you do an experiment that doesn't work. If you're doing it in the context of a short story, you've wasted a couple weeks on that, maybe you've wasted a month on that. If you're writing a gigantic trilogy or even something longer, and it is a failure, you're wasting years of your life on that. I wasn't certainly prepared to do that. It was a good time to break in in the 70s.
I think it is harder for young writers today but there is still opportunity there and I still think short stories are a good way to begin. When I do some of these signings at other bookstores, where I appear in person and not as Tyrion, I always have aspiring writers coming up to me, some of them are quite young, I mean like high school students who are working on a gigantic fantasy series with books as big as mine, and I just think that is a mistake. But, then again, as I said in the last question, every writer is different. I’m not going to try and be too doctrinaire about this; what works for me may not work for you.
BR: Well, I think now would be a great time, we do actually have…you’re going to read an additional piece here. So I'll actually let you introduce that and let you get started.
GRRM: Well, I've given you a little sample from Dreamsongs. Dreamsongs is of course all stories that were originally published some time ago, some cases many decades ago, some cases more recently. I thought I'd also give you something that hasn't been published yet. I'm going to read you a little bit from A Dance with Dragons. I don't believe that I've read this little bit before. I don't have enough time to read a whole chapter, of course, [but] I'll read a small section of one.
GRRM READS A SELECTION ENTITLED DAVOS.
GRRM: And I'll stop there, just to torment you all.
BR: Well, as you can see, everybody was absolutely ecstatic to have you read something from A Dance with Dragons. Obviously everybody has been on pins and needles waiting for the next book to come out. Which actually does lead me to the next question, you know I won't ask about certain things about it, but obviously one question that a lot of people have been asking do you think it will be within seven novels?
GRRM: I'm still hoping to hold it to seven novels, yes, that is my intent. But then again, I hate to answer that question because I've been wrong so many times before, it was supposed to be a trilogy when it began and then I said four, then I said six, over the years I was saying six, Parris would always be standing beside me holding up seven fingers behind my head. Parris, of course, [is] my lady, and I believe she's there in the room. Parris, raise your hand and people can mob you. You are cleverly disguised as someone else.
BR: This question [is] an interesting one I think in relation to the Song of Ice and Fire cycle. This is actually from "Katarina Rhode". To what extent are your characters based on historical figures, especially the Lannisters and the Lancasters, and the Borgias, for example?
GRRM: Well, I certainly read a lot of history, and I try to draw on that when writing this book, when writing this series of books. When I set out and began this story I wanted to flavor it as much with the flavor of historical fiction as with fantasy. While I admire Tolkien vastly, a lot of the fantasy that has followed in recent years has not been as well done as Tolkien, let us say, and a particular variety is set in sort of a Disneyland middle ages, where it's not really, they may have kings and dukes and they may be fighting with swords and riding around on horses but you can that the author doesn’t really grasp some of the way the middles ages worked.
I wanted to avoid that and stay a little closer to history. In that, with that in mind, I read a lot of history, I read a lot of historical fiction, the Wars of the Roses which some people have compared this series too was certainly an inspiration. That being said, there were other inspirations too, the Crusades were an inspiration, the Albigensian Crusade, the Hundred Years War, some of the Scottish border wars, some of the incidents from Scottish history, French history, all of this was grist for the mill.
I don't like to just take a character from history, whoever it is, and just change his name, kind of file off the serial number and present him as my own character. What I much prefer to do is perhaps take 2 or 3 characters from history and mix them up together or do juxtapositions that are original; I mean I don't want…I love historical fiction as a reader, but one of the problems with historical fiction, if you read a lot of history, you're always going to know how it's comes out. If you read a novel that’s actually set during the Wars of the Roses, you know what’s going to happen to those two little boys in the tower; you know who's going to win the Battle of Bosworth Fields. You know the ultimate fate of the mad King Henry VI. So I don't like that, I don’t want someone to just look at my book and know what happens because they're recognizing historical analogues, I like the stories to be unpredictable.
So [to] that extent, I think most of my characters, while they may partake of historical personages, there is no one for one correspondence anywhere.
BR: This is sort of follow-up question, and this is actually from "Bazz Runo" [Editor’s Note: that’s me], which is have any real world castles or locations specifically influenced the design of the castles or locations within the Song of Ice and Fire cycles?
GRRM: Well, in some ways that's the same answer as the previous question. Not directly, but I love castles, I visit castles whenever I travel in countries where they have castles, and I particularly actually like the ruined ones. I get a kick out of walking around a ruined castle. So I've certainly learned a lot of things, [and] I've drawn from that.
There are a couple castles in Scotland that are ruined, that no longer really exist in their medieval form that have inspired Pyke. I think Tantallon is one, or was one. These are castles that are built on sea-stacks, on rocks that thrust out of the sea. So the gate of the castle in on the headland but to get to the main keeps or towers you have to cross over bridges that connected. Well, Tantallon was an example of that and I think there was another Scottish castle built along the same lines and I used that as the basis for Pyke.
Hadrian's Wall, of course, I think was the inspiration for the Wall. I've never been to China so I've never had a chance to see their Great Wall but I have been to Scotland and I have walked along what remains of Hadrian's Wall and that was actually an inspiring experience. I was traveling and we got there late, all of the tour busses were leaving, the sun was going down and so we pretty well had it to ourselves. I remember standing along that wall and it was Fall, it was late October or early November and the wind was picking up and I looked across trying to think what it would be like to be a Roman legionary, maybe someone from Italy or Sicily or Greece who was posted to this place and what would be likely to come out of those hills to attack him there on the wall, what he must have felt, it was a very kind of lonely feeling. And I've always held onto that and certainly it was a feeling I tried to tap into when I created the Wall and the men of the Night’s Watch.
But of course, the other thing about fantasy is [that it is] bigger than real life, so you don't just take Hadrian's Wall and write something, you have to have something bigger than Hadrian's Wall. Hadrian's Wall is like, I don't know, 20 feet tall, if that, 10 feet tall, and my wall is like 700 feet tall and built of ice and it's much more impressive. I think that's true of all the castles. There are no real life castles that can match the castles of Westeros. That being said, they are still modest compared to some of the things in Lord of the Rings, and Tolkien's castles. Then again, there is less magic in my world, so it would be harder to build.
BR: I wanted to hit you with a couple of really quick, punchy, character specific questions now and you can choose to answer how you wish. The first one is from "Ser Bracken", which is will the readers ever get an Ilyn Payne point of view or Ilyn Payne introduction?
BR: Next quick bullet question. This one is from "Sensaria Caligari" -- did the Hound really die?
BR: In stepping away from A Song of Ice and Fire a little bit, you've written obviously a lot more that that, you have the two Dreamsongs compendiums coming out in the Fall, but there's also been the Armageddon Rag, there’s also been Fevre Dream, there’s also been Dying of the Light, do you ever, does the world of Westeros, do you ever really want to step outside of that and do other things, or do you always feel comfortable in that world?
GRRM: I've always liked to do different things. At certain points it has driven my agents and my editors crazy, perhaps, but to me one of the joys of being a writer is you can do different things. I mean I read a lot of different things, I don’t just read Science Fiction/Fantasy, though certainly I read a lot of Science Fiction/Fantasy, but I read mystery novels, I read literary novels, I read historical fiction, of course I read non-fiction. The periods where if I'm really into mystery novels, I’ll read five or six mystery novels in a row and suddenly I’ll feel like reading something else.
It's the same way when I'm writing; back in the early part of my career, and a lot of this is in Dreamsongs, in the commentary sections…in the early part of my career, I wrote mostly science fiction, with the occasional fantasy story thrown in. My first novel, Dying of the Light, was very solidly Science Fiction, it was set in a future history that I'd written about throughout most of the seventies and then I wrote a novel called Fevre Dream which was a historical horror novel.
At the time a lot of the reviews for Fevre Dream were sort of a "George R.R. Martin has left Science Fiction for horror". And that wasn't the case at all; I didn't leave Science Fiction, I just felt like writing that particular story at that particular point in time. After I wrote Fevre Dream, then I wrote The Armageddon Rag, which was even more of a hybrid, but then I wrote Tuf Voyaging, which was a solid Science Fiction book again.
I remember once an editor said to me, "Well you’re confusing the readers by moving between these genres, and you’re confusing your editors too. Do you want to be the new Stephen King or the new Robert A. Heinlein?" Then I confused it further by writing A Song of Ice and Fire.
You know, to me, that's the joy of writing. I don't want to write the same thing over and over again. Now the Song of Ice and Fire is a single story. Now it's a really, really big story and it's taking me a really, really long time to write it, but it is one story and it has a beginning and a middle and I do hope that it will have an end. And after I reach that end, what will I write next? I'm not saying I'll leave Westeros forever or this world forever, but I think, I suspect, that my next project after Ice and Fire will be something different, it will be a science fiction story, maybe it will be a horror story, maybe it will be something I've never done yet like a mystery novel. Maybe I'll go back into television or film for a while, you know, whatever I feel like doing in 2011 when it comes around and I can't say what that will be right now.
BR: Well, kind of cueing off that, and this is actually from someone else, which is, do you have any plans to do a sequel to Fevre Dream?
GRRM: Well, I've had an idea for a Fevre Dream sequel for a decade and a half now. It's just a matter of finding the time to write it. But yes, I would definitely like to do a sequel of sorts to Fevre Dream, I mean it would be set in the same universe and it would be some of the characters would come back, but not all of the characters. So it would be a sequel of sorts, but yes, I would like to do that, and I'd like to do another Tuf Voyaging. Of course, my Wild Card books are something I've continued all the way through this, I've continued to edit, and write for the Wild Card series of anthologies. Now I don't write all of those, but I am the editor, and do considerable writing for those. We're about to re-launch those with a whole new generation of Wild Card characters. It's all part of telling stories and telling different kinds of stories, which is what I aim for.
BR: Well, let's bring it back to A Song of Ice and Fire, we actually have a question from "Tatiana Wishbringer" which is why do you think so many fantasy novels don't have the realism you portray, very specifically relating to combat within the novels?
GRRM: Well, you know, not everybody likes that. I mean my readers like that. But I do get complaints, too, from people, about characters dying. There are readers who would prefer that the characters that they like, the good guys, the heroes, essentially waltz through the book without getting too messed up, if they encounter 150 orcs they can kill them all and not work up too much of a sweat. It's sort of, I don't know, comfort fiction, and that's fine. I don't like that kind of fiction much, as a reader, so I don't tend to write that. We write what we read, but there are other people who do like to write that and there are people who do like to read that. That's why we have so many different books on the shelves here at the Bantam Bookstore, so you pay your money and you take your choice.
BR: You've actually brought some guests with you this evening, and there's been a lot of questions relating to something that everybody's very excited about so, I'll let you introduce them and we can field some questions from the readers about that.
GRRM: Since January, when I announced the deal with Home Box Office for the television series of A Song of Ice and Fire—A Game of Thrones--I've been getting a lot of questions about it. And I knew I'd get a lot of questions tonight, so I've asked David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who will be the executive producers of the show and the scriptwriters, who will be doing it, to join us here tonight. And you can ask them some of your questions about what will happen with the Home Box Office project. Of course, keep in mind that we're just getting started here, so there's a lot of stuff that we don't know yet. But, David and Dan, can you guys come forward here?
Two new avatars join GRRM/Tyrion on the stage.
BR: Obviously you've been standing in the room and you've been seeing the questions from fans going on all evening. I guess the biggest question and the one that everybody's kind of wanted to know about the series is, how faithful is it going to be to the books and how is it going to cue off what George has already written?
DB: Well, when the books were first sent to me by George's agent, they were sent for me to look at in terms of making as a feature. And I started reading and about, I probably read about 150 pages, and I realized three things I guess. One was that I hadn't been this transported into a fantasy world since I also was in junior high school reading Lord of the Rings. The second thing was that this was, this would not work as a feature because the idea of trying to compress an 800 page book with incredibly detailed subplots into 120 page script, I mean we would have lost so much of what was so wonderful about this book. The third thing was that this was something I wanted to do and I couldn't do it by myself, which was why I sent the book to my friend and colleague, D.B. Weiss.
And you know I got phone calls from people at the studio afterwards saying, "There is a way to make this as a feature. There's a way to do it as a movie. You could just take Jon Snow and Daenerys and just concentrate on them and get rid of some of the minor characters." And it just, it was kind of appalling because, much as I love Jon Snow and Daenerys, I didn't want to lose the other characters. I mean this is an epic and the only way we could conceive of doing it properly was to tell it as a series. And you can't do it as a series where's it interrupted every twenty minutes by a commercial for toothpaste. And you can't do it where I'd have Tyrion saying the things he says and doing the things he says, all of which network TV would have had a huge problem with.
So we really felt from the beginning that the best way to do this was on HBO or possibly Showtime. And then I went online and I saw that all the fans had had this idea years before I had and realized that I was quite late to the game. But luckily George felt the same as we did and the whole reason we're doing this with HBO was because we felt it was really the only way to be faithful to the books and to put the entire series on air, not just highlighting, not just in the Reader's Digest condensed version of it, I should say.
DBW: Yeah, it's really our goal just to make it as faithful as possible within the confines of the medium, which are much less on HBO than they are anywhere else.
BR: That's allowing you guys a certain amount of freedom in terms of the script and the casting and everything else.
DB: Yeah, absolutely it is. As opposed to having to do 120 page script for A Game of Thrones, for instance, we're going to have now twelve 60 page scripts, so that’s 720 pages to tell the full story and it really allows us to be true to George's world in a way that we never could have otherwise. It's incredibly exciting and, as George said, it's a long process. We're still at the very, very beginning of it, but we can't wait to see the "Winter is Coming" promos on HBO at the end of a, well, I guess there won't be any more Sopranos episodes, but the end of whatever is coming on in a year.
BR: Okay, as obviously you can see that everyone is really looking forward to that. Kind of a side question to that, George, this one actually comes from one of the readers in the room, from "Arrian Villa", which is kind of a two part question -- did writing for Beauty and the Beast help at all with the Ice and Fire series and do you consider yourself a romantic?
GRRM: The second part is easy, yes I do consider myself a romantic, maybe more so in my earlier work than my current work. But if you certainly go back and read stories like as Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr, it's intensely romantic work. Of course, I define romantic in the classic sense, I'm not talking harlequin romances romantic, I'm talking Lord Byron romantic -- let's make that distinction there. Did Beauty and the Beast help? I definitely grew and learned as a writer because of my ten years of Hollywood writing for television and film. It's a different medium than writing prose and prose will always be my first love but I think my prose actually improved by working in television and film and having to sharpen my dialogue and having to work on my sense of structure and the things that are necessary for that. Dan, David, do you guys feel the same way? Both of you have written prose as well as screenplays and television?
DB: It's a lot harder to write a novel, about an order of magnitude harder.
BR: I guess kind of closing up, we’re at the end of our time limit for this, George, do you want to sum up for everybody coming from A Song of Ice and Fire without giving anything away, but giving them a heads up?
GRRM: Well, the next book out is A Dance with Dragons, of course, and that's the fifth book of the series but in some ways it's really 4B, as those of you who follow the series knows that A Feast for Crows got so big I had to pull it in half. I split it not by chopping it right in the middle but I split it by characters. The one I'm working on now is going to have an awful lot of the characters that that aren't in A Feast for Crows, it's going to have a lot of Jon Snow, a lot of Daenerys, a fair amount of Davos, and it's going to have have a lot of "me" -- Tyrion, who is your favorite, and my favorite, so I'm enjoying writing a lot of those right now. Parris has chained me to the computer here. She's about to go on a lovely trip to Ireland but I'm going to have to stay here chained to the computer to work on it. I know it's taking longer than I thought, but I'm working on it guys, that's what I can say, I'm working on it. I'm going to have to stay ahead of David and Dan, it would be awfully embarrassing if the television series caught up with the book.
BR: Let me say on behalf of everybody and all the extended fans here how great it was to have you in here and also thanks to David and D.B. for joining us. Again, everybody is really excited about the new books coming out, especially Dreamsongs, coming out [on] October 30, and then Dreamsongs, Volume II coming [on] November 27, and of course A Dance with Dragons when that does come out. Thanks for joining us here in the Bantam Dell Bookshop and Cafe.
GRRM: It's my pleasure.
DB: Thank you.
BR: Everyone in the bookshop I want to thank you all for such a great and wonderful turnout and having a good time with us with George.
[Note: This interview is provided through Archive.org]