George R.R. Martin is on the move on late. The Song of Ice and Fire author recently attended the World Science Fiction Convention in Helsinki, where he spoke about his inspirations, recorded a podcast, and hosted a panel about his Wild Cards series, according to Los Siete Reinos. One thing he didn’t do was talk much about A Song of Ice and Fire — in fact, organizers asked media and attendees not to ask him about that particular topic, noting that the completion of The Winds of Winter would be announced prior to its publication.
He was more forthcoming on the subject when answering questions at a panel in St. Petersburg — he’s currently in town for a fantasy writers’ festival starting today, according to The Moscow Times. Redditor Chamarazan was kind enough to translate some of his answers as printed in Russian outlets into English. Some of them are very interesting, like this one about how his workload has increased over the years:
"When I’m not traveling I work 7 days a week. Except during American Football season I do watch a lot of Football on Sundays so I take Sundays off. But it’s hard to keep up. One of the things that’s transformed my life this last decade is the sheer popularity of the show and the books has made my life considerably more complicated to the extent that I’ve hired assistants. I think it was 10 years ago that I hired an assistant for the first time in my life. I’ve never had one and now I have five. And even then it sometimes there seems to be too much work. The best times are the times when I can lose myself in the story when I put the outside world away and I boot up the computer and go to Westeros and the world outside vanishes and I forget all the pressure and the deadlines. And everything else and I’m caught up with the characters and the scene and what will happen next."
He also confirmed that, while he has visited the Game of Thrones set and may do it again, but in recent years, “I’ve stayed home and continued to press on the books rather than jaunting around the world to pop in on sets.”
Obviously, Martin didn’t reveal anything about what happens next, although he did have an eyebrow-raising response when one journalist asked if the fact that the White Walkers and wights are the main enemy undercuts the morally grey universe he’s created, one where flawed human beings fight flawed human beings. “As for the white walkers and the wights well I haven’t finished my series yet so I’ll reserve my comment on that until you see how I handle that in the last two books.” Food for thought.
Martin was also asked about the recent rash of leaks and hacks HBO has suffered. If scripts for season 7 leak, one journalist asked, would it affect what he writes in the novels?
"There certainly won’t be any influence on my work. I’m writing the books and while I’m involved with the TV series it’s the books that are my main concern. It’s sort of amusing that people would be in a big panic about the scripts being leaked before the show has come out considering that for the first entire five seasons my books were out and anyone could read my novels and find out what was going to happen. Just knowing something is going to happen is not the same as experiencing it and enjoying it. It’s nice to keep your mysteries and plot turns pristine but I think great works of art whether television show or novel or film does not rely entirely on plot development. There is a richness and depth that goes beyond that. That’s why the great works of art are things that you can revisit even though you know what is going to happen, you can watch and read them again going back time and time. I can enjoy reading War and Peace even though I know Napoleon lost."
I completely agree with him, incidentally. At the end of the day, the execution of a plot point matters a lot more than the plot point itself, but of course, there’s plenty of room for debate.
The press conference was long, but we’ll just print one more response. Does he want to change the fate of any of his characters after the fact?
"No I’m pretty satisfied with the fates of my characters in my book considered purely as literary question. One of the curious things about the TV show is of course when the TV show gears up and you visit the set and you meet the actors playing these characters. And that does introduce a certain element of guilt that you know you fired sometimes a few months in the future. You’re saying “Great to know you” and thinking “Oh, I killed you horribly to years from now.” Sometimes you wish you hadn’t cost your friend their job. But fortunately the books were written so far in advance that I didn’t have to actually deal with it. The people who were dead were already dead before I met the charming young actors who were going to portray them."
For lots more, including Martin’s comments on Fire and Blood, his upcoming compendium of Targaryen history, head to Reddit.