[Note: The following chat is made available through the Internet Archive.]
When I heard 'im talk saturday (yay! still psyched about that) he explained that when he started to write the 4th book (now pushed back to fifth) after the gap, he turned out to be writing hundreds of pages of mainly flashback sequences, people sitting around saying "remember when xx happened". He couldn't manage to make the connection in a good way, so that's why he removed the 5 year gap in favor of aFfC. This, incidentally, also cost him 6 months of writing time which were ditched, which explains some of the lateness of the book.
[Note: Having solicited questions to ask GRRM, Jasper says he asked only one, concerning whether Sword of the Morning was a familial office or a unique epithet for Ser Arthur Dayne.]
GRRM: "There have been other Swords of the Morning."
I went Sunday, and of course I was present when GRRM was being interviewed(by the dutch translator of his books) and we were allowed to ask questions. He'd said several things about AFFC that were new to me:
First of all, the prologue will be different from the prologues of the previous books. In stead of one viewpoint, there will be several, from characters at different places. This prologue will be longer than the previous ones, and be divided into sections.
When he told us of AFFC, he explained the whole 5-year gap thing, and that instead of five years, AFFC will begin seconds after ASOS' ending. Well, that of course we knew already, but then he said there will be some overlap; some of the scenes in AFFC will take place before or during the ending of ASOS.
When I asked him which of the places we never saw before, he is going to show us, he said that there will be quite some scenes on the Iron Islands, and also Braavos and Dorne. I am not sure if he meant that these scenes will take place in AFFC or simply in the following books.
Someone asked (again) if he could tell us if Ned was Jons real father or not, and GRRM answered that he will not reveal it (of course) but that the whole mystery about Jons parentage will be made clear somewhere in his book, not in AFFC, but perhaps in the last book, or even the book before that.
GRRM still wasn't sure whether he would write 6 or 7 books. He still hoped to be able to finish it in six, but couldn't promise anything. He also told that writing about the Red Wedding was very hard to him. It was in fact the last he had written of ASOS; he first wrote everything that came after it, the whole ending, and only then about the Red Wedding itself.
He said that in his original plan (when he wanted to write a trilogy) the Red Wedding would take place in book one, and Dany's landing in Westeros in book two. Now he says that Dany's arrival in Westeros will take place in book 5, A Dance with Dragons.
GRRM also talked about series with no apparent ending. He said that while the Wildcards were such a series, those were meant to be so, everytime another adventure, but that when you have a fantasy-series that keeps on going, with the end getting farther and farther away, that's a bad thing. I woder if he thought about Robert Jordan when he said this. It was mostly in response to the question when his series would end.
[Note: The following is futher information Harren provided after seeing discussion concerning the Iron Isles and Dorne.]
About the overlap-thing, IIRC GRRM first mentioned that AFFC will slightly overlap ASOS(or/and some scenes might even take place before ASOS ending), and at the end he told that there will be some scenes on the Iron Isles, Dorne and Braavos, that in response to my question; I asked if he is going to show us places we haven't seen before. So the Dorne/Iron Isles thing does not necesary take place in the overlap, perhaps not even in the book, because when he answered my question I wasn't sure if he meant that those scenes would take place in AFFC, or somewhere in the rest of the series. He did say something like "quite some scenes on the Iron Islands" or something like that, which makes me think that there must be a POV sometimes visiting/staying on the Iron Isles.
[Note: Calibandar's reference to "Ted's point" is in regards to the immediately previous report by Teddy Mormont]
To return to Ted's point, about Dorne and the Iron Islands, I recall now that Martin said that it did indeed overlap, I believe he said we'll see what happened in these two parts (his words were "and" , not "or" so both will be shown) there during the end of SoS.
Another details from the elf fair that proably interests most of us here: GRRM not only said there will be no gap, but also said parts of AFFC set in Dorne and the Iron Islands overlap with ASOS. That should have impact on the speculations about the new POV. It must be someone in Dorne unless the Theon POV is revived and the prologue is set in Dorne.
[Note: The information immediately below is a response to probing concerning the exact wording with which Mr. Martin conveyed the information mentioned above.]
I believe GRRM said parts of AFFC overlap with the previous book after explaining about the end of the gap idea and mentioned the Iron Islands and Dorne. So the plural can refer to both these aeras combined.
GRRM said at the fair that he will start to work on the second Dunk and Egg story after he finished AFFC. So this can't be the main reason for the delay. I didn't understand the title clearly, but I think it is going to be named "The Sworn Sword".
[Note: The following reports come from the Elf Fantasy Fair in the Netherlands, where Martin was involved in being interviewed and answering questions afterwards, taking part in a panel with other authors, presenting a lecture, and a signing.]
I was at the Fantasy Fair this afternoon where GRRM had a lecture, not about ASOIAF btw, so you didn't miss a thing that you couldn't have read somewhere else ( it was a recap of Science Fiction books from the 50's to the 80's). At the end it became worthwhile after all, because we could ask some questions. A question was posed about ASOIAF of course, about the storyline and release date.
He stated that it was "definitly behind schedule" and then started to proceed with some reasons, which most of us here know, about the Dance for Dragons, 5-year gap thing, and how that initially delayed things and how flashbacks would never work. Still, it became apparent that things hadn't been going all that well but GRRM didn't give a date. Yet. At the end someone else asked about a specific release date (again) and GRRM said that "I really have no idea. There's no way of saying right now, might be in Spring 2003, might not. It's a big book".
There was another question about the number of books, if he could keep it to seven, a question most of us here must have heard posed a hundred times before. And again, GRRM said he'd keep it to six, while Parris, stepping up, said that it would definitly be seven. Which I think means that it *will* be seven books, because I don't see any reason why she would be so adamant about over and over (unless they're being Impish again and again).