George RR Martin
GEORGE RR MARTIN: THE HEART OF THE THRONE
For the uninitiated, George RR Martin is the prolific author behind the “A Song of Ice and Fire” saga, the seven volume series of fantasy novels that provide the raw meat and potatoes for HBO's megahit Game of Thrones. The show has received a record breaking 110 Emmy Award nominations, including six consecutive Outstanding Drama Series nominations, with 26 wins and in 2015, it set a record for most wins for a series in a single year.
Twenty years ago, Martin published the first 700 page novel of the ASoIaF series, “Game of Thrones” and a large and disparate universe was born, with a colossal cast of characters both major and minor. Subsequently he’s released five of the seven books he has planned. “Winds of Winter”, the sixth in the series, is still being written and fans have been hungrily awaiting its release since 2011.
It’s no secret that Martin’s fans have been exceedingly cranky about being held in limbo for five years. The bellyaching only grew louder when the HBO series arrived at key plotlines before the books, and started to eclipse the material released. Click on a GOT fan forum and you’ll wade through pages of eager pleas to Martin to hurry the f*ck up and finish the next book, to bridge the gap before it gets too big. There are entire sites dedicated to tracking his writing habits, attempting to expose how few or how many hours Martin has devoted to writing per year. The hunger is real.
Martin has explained that the book is delayed because it is the longest in the series, but also admits his own disgruntlement at his slow place, mentioning on his blog that he should perhaps be more focused on writing at times. But a key component behind why Martin’s pace has slowed is due to the intricate, complex plot nature of “Winds of Winter” and the audience’s pressured watchful eye doesn’t help accelerate the book’s progress. As Martin puts it, “People are analyzing every goddam line in these books, and if I make a mistake they’re going to nail me on it.” And hey, we all have those days where we wind up watching Football instead of sharpening the ax.
While there’s been plentiful rumors about the book’s release, all Martin now says on the matter is that he’s still working on it, maintaining that the novel’s official release date will be announced on his website when the time comes.
"I've given up making predictions as to when I'm going to finish because every time I do, I'm wrong and you know, then everybody gets all bent out of shape about it,” Martin says. "My very first deadline on A Game of Thrones, I blew fairly spectacularly and I've been blowing every deadline I've been given ever since."
So fans wait with baited breath as Martin plugs away at his magnum opus, creating his fantastical tales from his “library tower” in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he’s resided since 1979. He’s described his mythic writing as coming from a subconscious level, pulling from his love of history and his own emotions saying, “a lot of my writing takes place on a subconscious level. It's not necessarily that I'm trying to think of it in any kind of rational terms. It's almost a daydreaming process.”
Some people assume, due to his immense successful and subsequent fortune, that’s he’s lost focus and is now resting on his laurels. But he explains it’s otherwise the case.
“The last book will be “A Dream of Spring”. Once those are done, then I can take a rest and enjoy a few of the accolades and the fruits of success that have accumulated to me and then go back to writing something or other and I'll be a different person and the world will have changed and I'll see what I feel like writing in whatever year that happens to be."
Martin admitted earlier this year that he did not believe “A Dream of Spring” would be published before the last season of the HBO show. So no matter how hard his fandom urges him to quicken his writing pace, the gap may never be bridged. Leaving us to wonder if he’ll consult the show’s creators on what direction he intends the series to end, ensuring no narrative threads are left dangling. But, perhaps, no matter how the ending plays out or pays off, he hasn’t entirely envisioned how it all will end yet.
Just as he never envisioned how popular his work would become in the first place he says, “I had no idea when this all started where it would lead... or how long the road would be,” he explains. “After I'd signed the contracts for the first three books, but before I'd delivered any of them, I'd thought the whole story could be told in three books, and that it would take me three years to write them, a year per book. [I did not] imagine that I would be spending most of the next two decades in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros with Tyrion, Daenerys, Arya, Sansa, Jon Snow, Bran, and all the rest. But here I am, twenty years later... still working on book six. It has been a hell of a twenty years, twenty years that have transformed my life and career.”
For the next chapter in the GOT chronicles, we shall have to continue the waiting game. Winter is coming...but don’t hold your breath for it, unless you like passing out.
Photography by Matt Licari
Written by Heather Seidler