George R.R. Martin appeared at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this week to discuss his writing, and meet with his Scottish fans.
Martin took part in two hour long Q&A sessions. The first of which, titled Creating Brave New Worlds, focused largely on his writing, and his work on A Song of Ice and Fire. The event was live streamed on BBC and will be available on demand soon, but in the mean time, The Guardian has provided a number of great quotes from the session.
His writing has been inspired by Scottish history:
“Standing in Hadrian’s Wall on a cold day – not quite cold and grey as this day – I stared off into Scotland and tried to imagine what it was like to be a Roman legionary. It was a profound feeling.”
“Scottish history is very bloody, but so are the histories from most places. I guess what made it special is that it has been extensively chronicled, and that it has been done in English, so I’ve had more access to it.”
He often gets letters requesting male sex scenes in his books:
“I do get letters from fans that want me to present an explicit male sex scene. Most of these letters come from women. I don’t pretend to understand this, I merely read my emails. I’m not going to shy away from doing it if it has to happen, but I don’t think you can just insert things because everyone wants to see them.”
“In the books I have a very limited third-person viewpoint. It’s the way I prefer to write fiction, because it’s the way we all see and experience life. I put gay characters in the books but they’re not the viewpoint characters. A TV show doesn’t have that limitation.”
Some fans have followed the clues he has left and have formed correct theories, but it hasn’t changed the outcome:
“I struggle with this because I do want to surprise my readers, delight them and take them in directions they didn’t see coming. I hate predictable fiction as a reader. I want to surprise and delight my reader and take the story in directions they didn’t see coming. Some readers in internet boards got the clues. Do I change it? No, I can’t, as I had planted them and it would be a mess.”
He also dropped some small book spoilers. (Hop over the next paragraph if you’d like to skip them.)
When asked whether there would be any new major characters in the series, he revealed that Willas Tyrell would be stepping into the light, as well as some characters from the free cities that have been previously mentioned. Although he doesn’t think they will be POV characters, he wouldn’t rule it out for certain.
Update: For those in the UK, the entire 42 minute Q&A is now available to watch online! For the rest of us, the clip of Martin admitting that one or two readers have followed his clues correctly has been released:
Martin’s second event, titled From Mind to Page to Screen, focused on how it feels to see the screen incarnations of his complex fictional universe in Game of Thrones, and his work in television.
On working in television:
“My years in Hollywood sharpened my ear for dialogue and gave me a good sense for act structure. The viewpoint structure of Game of Thrones ends with act breaks. I honed this skill from writing for TV to fit in commercials.”
On choosing a television adaptation, and his involvement:
“It would have taken 9 films to do my books so I turned down film for TV, opting for HBO. I wrote one script for first season, watched auditions on video, but my job is to write books. It might have been different if I’d finished series. The books are my baby. The show is their baby. Right now we’re the most expensive show on TV, with the biggest cast in history of TV but still have to amalgamate characters.”
On why there is more sex in the series than the books:
“I’m not really sure there is more sex. There’s a difference between seeing something and reading it. Generally I’m in favour of sex and I think a large part of the audience is too. It has always astonished me that there’s so much more upset about the sex than about the violence.”
On his characters:
“All the viewpoint characters embody my wit, my dreams and desires, because to write them you have to be inside their skins.”
“Sooner or later every writer hs a character they wouldn’t want their mother to read. You have to bleed on the page.”
On the show catching up to him:
“The show has certainly caught up with me but I’m writing the books as fast as I can and I can’t worry about that.”
On enjoying writing:
“I can’t say I’ve enjoyed writing something until it’s done. I enjoy ‘having written’ rather than ‘writing.’”
Update: The Associated Press has a short clip from this session including his answer on why the television show has more sex scenes, and if he is concerned about the show catching up to his book:
Martin recently gave an interview to The Independent while at Neuchâtel International Film Festival.
Martin discusses an array of topics in the lengthy interview including his early life, and his almost-career as a chess tournament director.
He touches on the growing discontent within a small group of his fans who are clamouring for the release of the next installment of A Song of Ice and Fire, and admits that it’s a problem most writers would “die to have.”
“I have the best fans in the world for the most part. There is a minority who are annoying, it has to be said. But for every one of those, there are 500 who are just great and who are very supportive. They buy the books and come out in their thousands when I do a signing.”
“With most writers, no one gives a shit when their book is coming out and even when it does come out, no one cares. I would much rather have my problem than their problem.”
He also reiterates that he wouldn’t mind seeing a Game of Thrones movie to cap off the series, if only to do some of his battles justice.
“If we go seven or eight seasons and then the show is still big enough that we can get the $200m to finance a huge epic movie to end it… sure!”
“We still run into budgetary problems. We’ve done a couple of great battles, for example, the Black Water battle in season two that I scripted and in this past season, episode nine was one long battle – the Battle of the Wall. Those have been great episodes, but we’ve also had to skip half the battles. Instead we have a messenger run on from off stage and say ‘We’ve won the battle!’ Battles are very expensive.”
But he wouldn’t care for it in 3D. “It gives me a headache.”
For the full interview, visit The Independent.
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