There’s “a lot of Tyrion” in The Winds of Winter

Image: Game of Thrones/HBO
Image: Game of Thrones/HBO /

With Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon coming out next month, A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin is out there promoting the show (it’s based on his book Fire & Blood). Martin doesn’t usually give a ton of interviews, so it’s nice to hear him sound off about stuff, especially when he does it at this length. Martin talked to the fine fans at Game of Owns for over two hours, wherein he spoke about Game of ThronesHouse of the Dragon, and the long-awaited sixth book in his Song of Ice and Fire novel series, The Winds of Winter.

We’re going to focus on those bits for this post, because any new information about Winds deserves special attention. It’s been 11 years since the last book in the series, A Dance with Dragons, came out, and fans are hungry to learn more. So how’s the writing process going?

“I’m still struggling with this Tyrion chapter,” Martin said. “There’s a lot of Tyrion in this book. And I think I’m close to finishing the Tyrion arc in Winds of Winter. I think this chapter and maybe one further chapter; and I won’t be done with the book, but I’ll be done with Tyrion’s role in this particular book. And then I’ll have to focus on another character, some of whom are also close, some of whom are not at all close. And then hopefully it all fits together.”

The Winds of Winter may be the longest Song of Ice and Fire book yet…by a lot

This may remind fans of the situation Martin was in back when he was writing the massive book that would go on to become A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons; he’d written the full stories for some characters but not for others. The solution there was to release the novel as two books, the first of which (Feast) came out in 2005 and the second (Dance) in 2011. Rather than tell one long chronological story, the books were divided by characters, so we followed the stories of Cersei and Jaime and others in Feast, and then turned back the clock to see what Tyrion and Daenerys and the rest were doing in Dance.

Might Winds also be released as two books? There have been no decisions made yet, but it’s something Martin is thinking about. “[I]t is conceivable…that Winds of Winter might be a bigger book than A Storm of Swords or A Dance with Dragons, which were the two biggest books,” he said. “And I’m not talking 10 pages bigger, I’m taking 300 pages bigger. Now, if that happens, my publisher might wanna divide it into two books.”

At that point, Martin will have the choice to cut some of what he’s written or explore other options, like releasing two books instead of one. “And I’ll have to wrestle with that situation when it comes up, but first I have to finish it and see exactly how long it is.”

George R.R. Martin doesn’t “want to be influenced by” Game of Thrones

On the same day as this podcast came out, Martin published a blog post where he shared how his work on The Winds of Winter is “taking me further and further away from the television series.” Essentially, he’s said that the more he writes, the less like Game of Thrones his books look. “Yes, some of the things you saw on HBO in GAME OF THRONES you will also see in THE WINDS OF WINTER (though maybe not in quite the same ways)… but much of the rest will be quite different,” he wrote.

Now, before anybody gets ideas about Martin changing the ending of his story after the series finale of Game of Thrones inspired backlash, that’s never been the kind of writer he is. Martin has always maintained that the show is the show and the books are the books, and the two would naturally start to stray away from each as the show went on, particularly after it took the story past the published material.

On top of that, Martin is a writer who likes to discover a lot of the details in his stories as he writes them, rather than planning out his tale in lock-step detail ahead of time. So of course there are going to be differences going forward. He returned to this theme in the interview. “I don’t want to be influenced by the show, really,” he said. “Some of the stuff they did in the show…are things I told [Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] that I would be building towards. But there were a lot of other things…I’m a gardener…Some of this stuff…comes to me when I’m writing it, and sometimes it doesn’t come to me.”

George R.R. Martin knows how one character’s journey will end: “It’s gonna be strong, and it’s gonna be powerful”

Martin spends a fair amount of time in the interview talking about his writing process, which can involve waiting for inspiration to strike. And it doesn’t always happen when he wants it. “About a month ago, out of nowhere, the perfect ending for a particular character came to me. It’ll be in Dream of Spring, not Winds of Winter, but…yeah. Yeah! Why are you giving me ideas for Dream of Spring? I’m not there yet. Shut the f**k up, muse.”

"But it’s there, and I’m gonna remember it, and when I get there, I think it’s gonna be strong, and it’s gonna be powerful, and it’s what I need to do. It’s appropriate."

A Dream of Spring is what Martin hopes will be the final book in the Song of Ice and Fire series. Obviously he doesn’t mention what character he got this idea for, but I hope they’re getting the ending they deserve, happy or sad.

George R.R. Martin on his hopes for the legacy of A Song of Ice and Fire

Martin has been working on The Winds of Winter for a long time. When it’s finally published, he still has at least one more book to write. “Not only do I have to finish the books, but I have to finish the books strong, in a way that people like,” he said. “That’s ultimately what’s gonna determine the legacy. If I can finish the books strong, then I think they’ll stand for themselves…You never know what’s gonna live on and live. Ultimately, posterity is the thing that judges an author’s legacy.”

And after that? Martin never lacks for ideas, that’s for sure. “I would like to finish the books and finish the books strong, and then I would like to write more books.” That includes more stories in the Dunk & Egg series and the second volume of Fire & Blood. And his interests go beyond that:

"I know some of my fans will be outraged to hear this, but I occasionally like to write other things…I love the world of Wild Cards and I love the world of 1000 Worlds. There’s a lot of me in them. There’s a lot of my imagination and my heart and my dreams and characters that I created that will always be part of me. And this should not be taken (as some of the fans do) that I don’t love Westeros or A Song of Ice and Fire. Of course I do! But I’m allowed to love more than one thing."

Throughout this interview, Martin comes across as an author who isn’t in the business just for the money. I mean, he certainly has the money, which is nice, but this is a guy who likes to create for his own sake, and who prizes labors of love. To fans who been waiting over a decade for The Winds of Winter, it might seem baffling to see Martin edit another book in his Wild Cards anthology series, for instance, but it’s good to take a step back and realize that Martin doesn’t see it the same way. He works on what he loves and he loves both.

That said, A Song of Ice and Fire is still his priority, lest there be any doubt. “It’s hard to do this,” he said. “It’s not easy to write these books. Sometimes I wonder if the people who are so angry about this online realize quite how hard it is. It is challenging.”

"They point to other writers who are doing a book a year…uh, okay. But I couldn’t do these as a book a year…Yes, I did write my first four novels each in about one year, but this one? No. It’s too damn big! At this point it’s like 12 novels woven together."

House of the Dragon premieres on August 21 on HBO and HBO Max. As for The Winds of Winter, our watch continues.

Next. George R.R. Martin gives huge update on The Winds of Winter. dark

To stay up to date on everything fantasy, science fiction, and WiC, follow our all-encompassing Facebook page and sign up for our exclusive newsletter.

Get HBO, Starz, Showtime and MORE for FREE with a no-risk, 7-day free trial of Amazon Channels