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Interview & Writing Tips from G.R.R. Martin

grrmartinGeorge R.R. Martin has been a busy man these past few weeks. He has done interviews and appearances in both American and Australia… Seeing as you fantasy readers and writers are busy people, Fantasy-Faction has collected the very best of what Martin has said, revealed and commented upon to save you a bit of time (we have, of course, included links to all the full versions of the interviews/posts).

American Television Channel ABC has recently done an interview with Martin focusing on the value of dreaming & imagination and the various fantastical themes of A Song of Ice & Fire. Second, we have a link to an article listing Martin’s top ten tips to improving your craft as a writer. And, finally, would George R.R. Martin ever share Westeros? Allow someone else to finish / write books in his fantasy World after his passing? You can find that out below too! What are you waiting for Factioners? Get scrolling!

To begin with here’s a transcript of the interview:

Transcript of recent Interview with ABC

CHRIS UHLMANN, PRESENTER: The land of Westeros is the mythical setting for the blockbuster book and mini-series that is Game of Thrones.

It’s an epic fantasy, but one of the reasons for its runaway success is its central themes are deeply rooted in reality – power, lust, love, family, duty, disgrace and honour are timeless pieces of the human puzzle. And the man behind books and the mini-series it spawned is a great storyteller. I spoke with George R.R. Martin earlier today.

George Martin, welcome to 7.30.

GEORGE R.R. MARTIN, AUTHOR: I’m glad to be here.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Is your life a testament to the fact that there is actually a value in daydreaming?

GEORGE R.R. MARTIN: Actually, yes, I think it is, I think it is. I’ve been daydreaming and nightdreaming my entire life, from my childhood in Bayonne, New Jersey. I grew up in the projects in Bayonne, New Jersey. My father was a longshoreman. We didn’t have much money. Didn’t even own a car. I lived in a world that was five blocks long. But, Bayonne, New Jersey, my hometown, was a peninsula and there was a deep water channel right across the street from me where the big ships would go from Newark Bay to New York Bay with all the different flags – Australian flags and New Zealand and Scandinavia and China and Liberia, and I would dream about being on those ships and where they were going. And at a very early age, I started reading comic books and then science fiction and fantasy books and then books of all sorts.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Well take us to Game of Thrones. When did you first start imagining this world?

GEORGE R.R. MARTIN: 1991. I remember it very vividly. It was the summer of 1991. I was working a lot in Hollywood at the time. I’d been on a couple of shows as a writer-producer on Twilight Zone Revival, on Max Headroom, on Beauty and the Beast and I was doing development, trying to come up with my own concepts for pilots. But I didn’t have any immediate assignments in the summer of ’91, so I said, “Let me write a novel. It’s been four or five years since I had my last novel out.” And I started this science fiction novel that I’d begun – been planning for years. And it was going pretty well. I was, like, 40, 50 pages into it when suddenly the idea for the first chapter of Game of Thrones came to me, the chapter where they find the direwolf pups in the summer snows. I knew right from the beginning that they were summer snows, that phrase was one of the germs and that there’s something wrong in this world with the seasons and that these direwolves were important and that each one would have a connection with one of the children of the leading family and I started writing that chapter and it just poured out of me in about three days, and by the time I’d finished it, I knew what the second chapter would be and I went on to that and then the third chapter and so on and so forth.

I like grey characters. I like people who have both good and evil in them ’cause I think real people have both good and evil. There are very few pure paladins in the world and there are very few totally evil people. We all have the capacity for heroism in us. We all have the capacity for selfishness and evil in us.

How do you play this Game of Thrones, this cut-throat game? Do you play it according – clean and noble, according to the rules that you’ve been taught? You do that, you could very well lose your life and you could lose the lives of people that you love and your family or your children, because the other people that you’re playing with are not playing by the same rules. So then do you compromise your principles and get down and dirty with them and play it in the rough and mean way that you think might be necessary to win? Well then maybe you survive a little longer, but what have you become in the end? I mean, these are issues that I think are very much worth talking about, not only in fiction, but of course we see this reflected all around us in the real world, the constant struggle of ideals versus Realpolitik.

CHRIS UHLMANN: The series is very true to the book.

GEORGE R.R. MARTIN: Yes, very much so.

CHRIS UHLMANN: And you’ve got a lot of control over what happens with the series.

GEORGE R.R. MARTIN: I wouldn’t say I have a lot of control, but I have a voice. I write the books, David Benioff and Dan Weiss are the showrunners. They write the majority of the scripts. I do one script per season. …

… I’ve been very excited and pleased about what it’s done. And among other things, of course, it’s getting me millions of new readers through the books, ’cause the people who watch the show then go out and buy the books and I’m all in favour of that.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Now of course on the books, the question all your fans want to know is: when will the next one be out?

GEORGE R.R. MARTIN: When will the next one be out? Well that’s a good question. December. But it’s a book called Dangerous Women that I edited with my friend, Gardner Dozois, and it does have an Ice and Fire novella in it, a novella I wrote called the Princess and The Queen, about a Targaryen civil war 150 years before the events of the main books. So, that’s – that will have to appease them until I finish the Winds of Winter, which is still a ways. I mean, these books are enormous; they take me a long time to write. Someone asked me at Supernova this weekend, “What’s the hard part of writing?,” and my answer was, “The words. The words are hard.” (Laughs)

CHRIS UHLMANN: So, look, you began your life as a daydreaming boy. Does your life seem like a daydream now?

GEORGE R.R. MARTIN: A little bit, yeah, a little bit. But it’s worked out pretty well and I don’t think I’d change much of anything.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Well George Martin, thank you very much for speaking with us on 7.30.

GEORGE R.R. MARTIN: Oh, my pleasure. I was thrilled to be here.

CHRIS UHLMANN: And I told my teachers that daydreaming wasn’t a waste of time. And you can see an extended version of that interview on our website later this evening.

Martin’s Top 10 Tips for Writers

Additionally, George R.R. Martin stopped by the Sydney Opera House to give his top 10 tips on improving your craft as a writer. It’s a great list that continues to detail the importance of imagination, character development and envoking emotion (without overdoing certain elements such as grief). Life hacker did a write up which can be found here.

Will Martin share Westeros? Allow another to take it up upon his death?

And, finally, George R.R. Martin was recently asked by an Australian paper whether he would allow anyone else to write in the world of the A Song of Ice & Fire books. I think the insinuation was should Martin die before their conclusion, but Martin answered it first as if someone wanted to write them whilst he was alive. His answer was: “Not while I’m alive,” and then added what, I presume, the journalist really wanted by saying: “But eventually I will not be alive because Valar Morghulis – all men must men die. I don’t think my wife, if she survives me, will allow that either.” Why you may ask? Well, in typical, matter-of-fact fashion Martin tells us: “I’m sure there are publishers waiting in the wings with giant bags of money just waiting for someone to say ‘yes, go ahead, let’s write Sauron Strikes Back. I hope I never see Sauron Strikes Back written by some third rate writer who leaps at the opportunity.”

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