There must have been up to 120 people there. GRRM said that it was always a worry of his when visiting a place for the first time that there might not be many people who turn up for the signing. He then recounted a story about the smallest crowd he had for a signing. Ray Bradbury was signing at a major sci-fi con in one town and in a nearby town GRRM was signing AGOT at a bookstore. The bookstore had a caf and when he arrived there were two couples drinking coffee. No-one else had arrived for the allotted start time and they waited a bit longer. When still no-one else had arrived the bookstore manager announced that the signing would start and the two couples left the caf and bookstore. So the smallest crowd he has signed for is -4.
e talked about the series, how it originated and the delay with Feast. The next book should be published next year and the series should run to 7 books although there are no guarantees.
The talk lasted about 20 mins and was followed by a Q&A which lasted for at least 45 mins. There were several questions asked (must have been approx 20). The first one was about the possibility of a 3rd Dunk & Egg story. GRRM said he liked to write the stories in between writing the books and that he had started the 3rd one.
When asked about how he writes the series, GRRM responded by comparing it to a journey. He knew the start, knew the landmarks, and had a good idea of the destination. However, he often notices interesting places and buildings while on the journey and feels obliged to explore them. Another questioner furthered the analogy by asking if he had come across any dead ends. GRRM replied that the now well-known 5 year character gap between the 3rd and 4th books had caused many problems. He spent about 6 months trying to make it work.
Asked if he knew the ending, he replied that it would be bitter-sweet. He expanded on this by talking about the scouring of the Shire. When he first read LOTR at the age of 12, he didn't understand the ending. However, as a more mature reader he came to appreciate that triumph is always bought at a cost.
He was asked to comment about his different writing styles between aSoIaF and Fevre Dream. For the latter, he read several novels, such as those by Mark Twain, from the period to understand the syntax and words. For aSoIaF, he replied that it is a fine line to draw between writing in modern, understandable prose and using archaic words. The best way is to compromise by using modern prose, but omitting all pop culture references, and occasionally using archaic words/phrases. He compared it to adding a bit of salt to soup to enhance the flavour. When writing AGOT he had a lot of characters who used the word "mayhaps". His editor did not like the use of the word because he feared a "forsooth" would follow shortly. GRRM compromised by keeping the use of quot;mayhapsquot; for older characters, such as Aemon, but replaced it with "perhaps" and "maybe" for younger ones like Bran.
GRRM was complimented on how well he had captured family dynamics and the questioner wished to know if GRRM had any siblings. GRRM replied that he has 2 sisters and has slept with neither of them. The reply garnered a lot of laughter and some applause.
Incidentally, it must have been bell-ringing practice night as the bells were being rung for the majority of the talk and Q&A. At one point, GRRM paused, looked out the window and wondered for whom the bells tolls and that hopefully it wasnt for him.