The Citadel

The Archive of 'A Song of Ice and Fire' Lore

So Spake Martin

US Signing Tour (Madison, WI)

After dinner, we headed over to the bookstore. We had trouble finding parking. We ended up parking in the lot for the Walgreen's that's two store over.

By the time we got to the bookstore, there was already a crowd. All the seats were taken and the standing area right next to the reading area was packed already. We stood at the outskirt and just sort of chilled. More book talk, yay, geeks are us.

Then Martin was introduced and then he spoke about the series and the latest book. Most of what he said has been reported elsewhere, like the -4 attendance for his first book tour in St. Louis, so I won't repeat it here. But a couple of added highlight:

In speaking on the 5 year time it took (Martin emphasized that it's only 3 years late, since he is allowed to have 2 years to write the book) to write the book, he mentioned the fact that he had to scrap the idea of a 5 year break in the story line. He mentioned that it works really well for the children, but not so much of the adult. He said that when he was trying to write, he'd ended up with something like:

Jon is at the Wall, and he thought to himself, "Boy, has it been a quiet 5 years. Nothing much happened. We thought that there was a big threat, but oh well, it wasn't that urgent."

So that didn't work, so he toyed with doing things in flashbacks, like:

A character sat and thought: "Jeez, it sure has been an eventful five years! Last year, there was this huge war and lots of people died. Then the year before, I was married and the wedding was something else all together. Then the year before that, there was this huge thing over in the Free Cities. And then, the year before THAT, there's this..."

So that didn't work, either. The rest of the story you all know.

After speaking, Martin allowed for some questions. Some of them are repeated (wish they all had read OUR board. tongue.gif). Some of the non-redundant ones are reported here:

Q: Do you keep an appendix for all the characters and events to help you keep track of the complicated plot and the large cast of characters?
A: Well yes, and I published the Appendix in the books. There are some that I haven't published obviously, and they never will be. But not everything has been written our or typed up. Most of the notes are in my head. The parts of the brain that normal people use for daily life I use for Westeros. I will probably forget your name in 5 minutes, but I'll know the heraldry of the knights.

Q: The maps in the books are not very accurate. Is that deliberate?
A: If you think about the maps from the medieval time, they were not very accurate either. Someone in France would know France and England very well, and they would know that Spain is down there somewhere, but outside of that, they only had a fuzzy idea. It's like the New Yorker cartoon where they ask someone from New York city to draw a map, and they'll have Broadway, and the 7th, and the 8th, and then New Jersey, and then California. This is true for the characters in the books as well. If they only have a fuzzy idea about the world, then so should the readers. I try to include a new map in every book. There'll be a new map for the Free Cities in the next book, and in this one we have a more detailed map of the Iron Isles.

Q: How much planning did you have before starting to write this series and how much planning goes into each book?
A: I didn't plan to write this series at all. At the time, I was writing for a TV show and I thought that it has been a few years since I wrote a novel, so I should do one. I started on a project called Avalon, which is a SF series based on the futuristic world I created with a few other short stories like Tuf Voyage and Dying of the Light. (Then I missed the next part because someone else's cell phone rang!). I don't know where the story came from, maybe there's a psychological thing with the ego and the super-ego and the id, who the hell knows, but the story came from somewhere within me.

Q: (Didn't quite catch all the question, but it's about what he plans on doing with the series after the end.)
A: I'm still doing Dunk and Egg stories. My plan is to have 9 of them, following them through their lives. At the end there will probably a collection to put them into a book, or maybe two books.

Q: So when you write and you let other people read the book, do you change stuff from their feedback?
A: Other people read the book? What do you mean?

Q: Well, you know, like other people read the books.... *stuttering silence*
A: No, nobody reads the book while I'm writing it. I may stand here appearing to be very sure of myself, but in reality, I'm riddled with doubts. This is especially true during the writing process. I make mistakes along the way. I think all writers probably have this thing about them, that there's a creative side and a critical side. Maybe it's a left-brain right-brain thing or maybe it's the ego and super-ego thing, but I think a lot of authors, especially beginning authors, have a very strong Critical Side. They would sit down and they would write a sentence. Then the Critical Side would say. "that's no good." So they'd erase and write another sentence, then the Critical Side would say "That's not as good as Tolstoy." So you just have to shove that Critical side away and lock it in a closet in the beginning and let your creative side come out first. For instance, when I was writing the original prologue, it was going to contain multiple shorter POVs. Then my critical side took a look and said, you know, it's 200 pages into the book before your reader sees a familiar character... that's not going to work. Or when I was writing a five-year gap in the story, my critical finally said: That's a stupid idea. Why on earth did you do it?!

I didn't get to ask any of the questions from the board during the Q&A because it was crowded and we were standing way back. But I got a chance to ask them with the help of the BwBers because I assigned each of us one question to ask while waiting for Martin to sign our books. Hehehe. I'm smaht like dat.

Q: Will there be a new POV in the next book that we haven't seen before?
A: There might be one.

Q: Was Sandor part of Tywin's Party at the sack of King's Landing?
A: Yes.

Q: Was the Vulture King a Blackmont? If not, what House did he belong to?
A: Not necessarily. There are several culture kings and they set up a place in the mountains. One of them might have been Blackmont, but not all of them.

Q: What is House Blackfyre's motto?
A: Oh, I don't know. I haven't thought one up yet.

By the way, I mentioned that these questions were mostly from Ran, and Martin sort of rolled his eyes and groaned. Heh.

After the signing, we ended up calling a night of it, so we were party-poopers and no party was had. Alas. Otherwise, it was a great experience and I was glad to be able to see everyone again and to meet Ser Arthur Dayne.