Yesterday, A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin made a rare public appearance at the Fox Theater in Redwood City, California, where he interviewed science fiction and fantasy illustrator John Picacio onstage. Among a great many other things, Picacio did the artwork for the first-ever A Song of Ice and Fire calendar back in 2012.
Picacio is the Artist Guest of Honor at Worldcon, which kicks off tomorrow at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, CA. In recent years, Martin has cut down on the number of cons he attends so he can focus on work, but Worldcon is special to him. “[T]here’s no way I’d miss a worldcon, by any name,” he wrote on his Not a Blog. “I’ve only missed one in the last thirty years.”
Martin will be signing books and speaking on panels, although he hasn’t set aside any time to talk about A Song of Ice and Fire or Game of Thrones specifically. But during a lengthy question-and-answer session with the audience at the Fox Theater, he was happy to chat about it.
Let’s get the obvious question out of the way first: what’s the status of The Winds of Winter, the long-awaited sixth book in Martin’s series? ABC 7 News has the video:
“Working on it!” Martin said. “Working on it. Believe me, you’ll know when it’s done. It will be the shot that’s heard round the world.” Noted.
He dropped plenty of other fun tidbits about the books:
- For years, fans have wondered what became of Dark Sister, the Valyrian steel sword wielded by Visenya Targaryen during Aegon’s Conquest. Eventually, it passed to Brynden Rivers, aka Bloodraven. Martin revealed that Bloodraven took Dark Sister with him when he went to the Wall, where he eventually became the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch and later still the Three-Eyed Raven/Crow. For all we know, it’s still in his cave.
- Martin created the character of Davos Seaworth in part because he needed to tell Stannis’ story but didn’t want to make Stannis himself a point-of-view character. One dead Maester Cressen later, we have Davos.
- There are a couple questions Martin wouldn’t answer, including whether there’s a missing Clegane sister and whether the red comet will ever come back.
- Martin reiterated that he does not approve of people writing fan-fiction using his characters. “If you want to do it, send me a Tesla full of money.”
Martin also talked about the interplay between his books and HBO’s Game of Thrones, saying that he does not consider the show a draft of what to expect in the novels. He explained that some characters who have died on the show will never die in the books, although of course he didn’t say which ones.
We still don’t know when The Winds of Winter is coming out, but Martin has another book on the horizon: Fire & Blood, the first of two tomes about the history of the Targaryen dynasty in Westeros. “I know that a day after Fire & Blood Number 1 hits the stands…someone will say, ‘When is Fire & Blood Number 2 coming out?'” Martin quipped. “So, the answer will be, ‘Years from now.'”
As it ends up, Martin released Fire & Blood Part 1 sooner than originally planned in part because he wanted it out ahead of several Game of Thrones prequel shows in development at HBO, some of which draw from Fire & Blood. Others, Martin said, are based on single sentences from The World of Ice and Fire, a more generalized book of Westerosi history.
Speaking of the Game of Thrones prequels, Martin revealed that he had pitched HBO three ideas in addition to the five we already knew about, but none of them are in development. At the moment, HBO is for sure developing a show set during the Age of Heroes, and maybe-possibly-sorta-kinda one about the fall of the Valyrian Empire.
Finally, let’s circle back to how A Song of Ice and Fire relates to and plays off Game of Thrones. It’s no secret that, for a while, Martin entertained the notion that he could finish The Winds of Winter before the HBO show caught up to his books. That’s partially because Martin didn’t expect the show to cut as much content as it did; he probably assumed that the show would spend a couple seasons adapting A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons rather than more-or-less collapsing them into season 5, with some stray bits in seasons 4 and 6.
Some other interesting moments:
- Martin said he’s too old to like memes; he still sends message via raven. Somehow I doubt that’ll keep the internet from making them.
- His favorite color is purple. Mark it down.
- If Martin had a child, what would he name him or her? “I don’t know… probably Not Daenerys.”
- Martin enjoys writing about dreams and prophecies that come true in unexpected ways. He’s tempted to write a book full of dreams that don’t actually mean anything but that people torment themselves trying to decode. I’d be all for it.
And that is more information than we get out of George R.R. Martin for years at a time! What do you make of it?