But, on to book signing. There was a 3 book maximum per trip through the line. I was through the line in about 20 min. Which was nice. Mr. Martin had been through the dealers room and when I got up to have my books signed he asked about the swords and what we used them for. Turns out that he used to be a chess coach, and is very into the human chessmatch concept. I thought that was neat. I had brought the first two books in the series in paperback, but the 3rd in hardback, so I got a little more personalized autograph in the hardback. He signed it " To Chris- Keep your Swords Sharp! George RR Martin. " Which I personally thought was cool. After the signing he came back through the dealers room again and we got a chance to chat some more.
When noon rolled around I went to George RR Martin's reading. He read a chapter from the new novel, A Feast for Crows. It was a Sam chapter. Sam is the coward of the series, but quite possibly one of the smartest characters as well. Is was a very good chapter and lent a lot of insight into the direction that the new book is going. After the reading there was indeed time for Q&A. A couple of people had questions, but I sat front row center in my Bellie dance garb and asked the majority of the questions. Everything from how hard is it to write from a kid's point of view. ( Very, why do you think that the 4 year old character is in hiding?) Are you going to do a time jump to age the kids? ( Nope too many balls in the air for the adults, but there has been 3 years already to pass in the books so they are growing up). Who is your favorite character? A cliche but I had to ask. ( Tyrion, For a lot of very detailed reasons that I don't have enough space to write.) My favorite character too. Where did you come up with the idea of writing from so many perspectives and why? ( Also a long answer, but the jist of it is from the Wild Cards mosaic novels, and so that you could see the stories from a lot of angles without the great author wink wink nudge nudge, so that you know what is going on even if the main character doesn't.)
GRRM said the series will probably total seven volumes. But it sounds as if he is being flexible about that, in case he keeps getting more new ideas that will result in additional volumes, as has already been the case with A Feast for Crows. He also said that the strange phenomenon of the fantasy world's long seasons will be explained in the final volume of the series.
GRRM said that he doesn't have a "Big Board" or a special computer program to keep all the events and characters straight. He says he does it all in his head, by means of using the brain cells that most people use to cope with everyday life!
GRRM said that his favorite character is Tyrion Lannister, and he identifies a lot with Tyrion. GRRM said the Tyrion chapters are very easy to write, and they seem to write themselves without any effort from him.
With regard to characterization and point of view, GRRM said that for any character who is a POV character he has to find something that he and readers can sympathize with even if the character in question does reprehensible things. He said there is always something he can find, or if not then it just won't be a POV character. Gregor Clegane, for example, could never be a POV character, but Jaime Lannister can be despite his bad actions, because there's more to Jaime than that. GRRM mentioned that Cersei will be a major POV character in A Feast for Crows. I was outraged by this and commented ""You just won't ever leave us any character we can purely hate, will you?". GRRM smiled at that, and that's when he gave the counter-example of Gregor Clegane.
I asked a lot of questions about the world-building involved in A Song of Ice and Fire--why the fantasy world is so earthlike in certain ways, with Caucasians in the northwest, Mongol-like Dothraki in the east, black people and zebras in the south, etc., and why some of the characters even have names from terrestrial languages such as Robert and Richard (Germanic) and Philip and Jason (Greek); his answers were that the earthlike characteristics of the flora, fauna, and ethnic groups were just something he wanted--in other words, no real answer at all--and that he viewed names such as Robert, Richard, Philip, and Jason as "neutral" names with no real ties to any language, whereas he would never give one of his characters a name such as Pierre because to him that isn't a "neutral" name. When I demurred about this, GRRM became rather testy and told me my problem was that I knew too much about languages.
The last question I asked him was about religion in his fantasy world.
I thought the religious tolerance in Westeros between tree-worshipers and worshipers of the Seven was remarkable. GRRM said there hadn't always been tolerance, and the situation as seen at the beginning of A Game of Thrones was a compromise that had been worked out after much conflict in the past. But this is a situation now changing with the introduction of Melisandre and her fanaticism regarding Rh'llor--essentially, religious tolerance is becoming a thing of the past in Westeros. When Robert Baratheon overcame the Targaryens, he opened up Westeros to all sorts of changes in tradition--thus, Cersei's unprecedented move in dismissing Ser Barristan Selmy from the Kingsguard, etc. Westeros is now in a state of flux.