George R.R. Martin was a guest on Le Grand Journal during his trip to France earlier this month, and the full interview is now available to watch online. Martin appeared in his familiar cap and suspenders to talk about his work on A Song of Ice and Fire and the success of Game of Thrones.
He discusses some of the inspirations for his story, and justifies the amount of violence by looking back at our own bloody history. He also shares his reaction to the Queen’s visit to the set in Belfast, and reveals that his favorite parodies are actually of himself.
Martin’s answers have been dubbed over in French, and while you can still hear his voice, to make things a little easier, a transcript can be found below.
On whether he can still claim the story as his baby after the huge success of the show:
I still do think of it as my baby, I worked on it it a long time before anybody else. Started it in 1991, and it’s kind of frightening to think how long I’ve been writing about these characters and world at this point.
On historical fiction, and his inspiration for the Wall:
I love history, and historical fiction. You mentioned Hadrian’s Wall, that was one of the inspirations of course for my Wall. Even long before I knew what I would use it for I visited Hadrian’s Wall in England, and stood on top of it at sunset. Most of the tourists had gone, and I tried to imagine what it was like to be a Roman Legionnaire standing on this wall at the end of the world not know what might lie North of it, what might come and attack you at any moment. It was quite a profound feeling and I wanted to capture that at some point.
On the amount of violence in his story:
I think it’s actually the influence of history, you know, people say to me how do you invent such a bloody history, how do you kill so many people. If you look at sources, if you look at the actual stories of the Hundred Years’ War, or the War of the Roses, or the crusades, the Cathars, I’m a piker compared to the stuff that happened in real history. Real history was written in blood, and the kind of things our ancestors did to each other is just amazing.
People seem to be amused by reading it, so I like telling fascinating stories.
On his Westeros related side projects:
The book that you’re talking about there is a novella about two characters called Dunk and Egg, who lived 90 years before the main story, and I’ve written three novellas about them and hope to write another dozen telling the whole story of their lives. But they are a prequel to what I think of as the main story, which is A Song of Ice and Fire. I’m doing some of the pre-history, the things that happened before, the characters who were legendary characters in the ‘present’ so to speak, I’m telling their stories too. The main story is still A Song of Ice and Fire, in with Game of Thrones.
On the Queen’s visit to the set:
I see they gave her a little Iron Throne of her own. I notice she did not sit in the Iron Throne. I know she has her own throne that she sits in, she doesn’t need our throne to sit on.
It’s pretty amazing, I was unfortunately not there in Belfast, I was in New Mexico. But I have seen these videos before and it’s pretty exciting. It’s pretty astonishing. This has been a very strange trip since I began in 1991, writing about some wolves in the summer snow. To see something like this happening now and have the whole world aware of the story is amazing. It’s not something anyone could ever foresee.
On his favorite parody:
My favorite spoof is probably the actual spoofs of me that were done on Saturday Night Live and South Park and things like that. That’s been the strangest thing for me. It’s one thing as a writer to have someone do a parody of your characters and the world you create, but then to have someone actually do a parody of me, myself, you know, this boggles my mind still. But last Halloween in America they were selling Game of Thrones costumes so kids going trick of treating could dress up like Jon Snow or like Daenerys, that’s fine, but they were also selling costumes to dress up like me with the suspenders and the hat and the full beard. That blew my mind, that’s the strangest thing of all. Fortunately nobody came to my house dressed up like me.
On whether he enjoyed the Red Wedding reaction:
Actually, I want the feeling in my readers that no one is safe. I want them emotionally involved in the books. If the characters are in a difficult or scary situation I want the reader almost to be afraid to turn the next page because they don’t know what’s going to happen. If the character’s going to live or if the character’s going to die.
On sharing a name with The Beatles’ record producer:
He’s a knight, he’s Sir George Martin, and I’m not. But I did meet Paul McCartney last year, so I’m catching up to him. Now we both know Paul McCartney.
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