George R.R. Martin on how his life has changed, the pressure to write, and a bittersweet ending

George R.R. Martin continues to blaze the press trail before he takes some long awaited and well deserved time at home to work on the next book in his series.

While in Edinburgh for their International Book Festival he spoke at length with The Guardian about how his life has changed since the huge success of A Song of Ice and Fire, the pressure he feels to finish, and more.

On how his life has changed, and what he’d like to do to camera phones:

“It does seem unreal at moments. I’m constantly forgetting that my life has been transformed. I think Rowling was a different case because they were her first books. For me, I’d had 20 years of fantasy and science fiction books that had done well, but not like this. And there’s part of me that makes the unconscious assumption that I’m still that person and can live that kind of life. And then I’m reminded that I can’t because Game of Thrones has become such a phenomenon and I’ve become a celebrity. There are nice things about it and not so nice.

I can’t go out any more; I can’t walk the streets. And it’s great to have all these readers and fans who, for the most part, are very nice people, saying they love the books and the TV show. But there are so many of them and it just doesn’t end. Oh, and ‘selfies’! If I could clap my hands and burn out every camera phone in the world, I swear I’d do it!”

He won’t let the pressure to finish get in the way of writing a great book:

“My publishers want the [next] book, so do HBO, so do my readers. And nobody wants it more than I do. But, when I weigh that pressure, I have to be aware that the books are what I’ll finally be judged on. If the novels are still being read in 50 years, no one is ever going to say: ‘What’s great about that sixth book is that he met his deadline!’ It will be about how the whole thing stands up.”

On the unused material he’s accumulated over the years:

“There are discarded chapters and paragraphs and everything in-between. Because I follow the characters and they sometimes lead me down dead ends. So, at the end of the sequence, I will probably have tens of thousands of words or even hundreds of thousands of words of unused material.”

And whether he would ever publish any of it:

“Mmm, no. Some of them are just earlier versions of scenes that appear. There’s at least one deleted chapter from book five – which left me in the wrong place – which I have been tempted to publish as a sort of short story.”

For the full interview visit The Guardian.

Martin went from the book festival straight to Loncon 3, where he sat down for an interview with Channel 4 News. He believes Game of Thrones has opened the door for sophisticated adult fantasy on television, and expands on his recent comments about the lack of gay sex scenes written in his books. He says that he hopes to give A Song of Ice and Fire a bittersweet ending along the lines of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, if he can bring it off the way he wants to. He explains the positive influence fans can have on his life and work, but of course, still feels the pressure.

Get a daily update of the site’s latest news, conveniently sent in newsletter form, directly to your inbox. Sign up for WiC Daily.

Spoiler Alert!

Please take care to tag spoilers in your comments by wrapping them with <spoiler></spoiler>. Spoilers in comments are hidden by a gray overlay. To reveal, simply hover or tap on the text!