Now that George R.R. Martin's long-awaited next book is coming out, and the television version of his Game of Thrones is coming soon, he's getting a lot more attention — including two great new profiles.
This week's New Yorker has a terrific profile of Martin by Laura Miller — it focuses rather a lot on the fan backlash over the delay of his novel A Dance With Dragons, but manages to reveal tons of fascinating stuff along the way. And there's also a terrific interview in today's New York Times.
Here are some cool things we learned about George R.R. Martin from the two pieces:
A Dance With Dragons isn't actually done.
He tells the New York Times he's still putting on the finishing touches. "I'm still working on the last few chapters here. But I'm close enough so that Bantam felt confident in announcing a publication date."
Martin felt cheated and frustrated by the ending of Lost.
According to the New Yorker article:
Martin knows what it's like to be provoked by a serial entertainment. He experienced it himself as a faithful viewer of "Lost," the ABC adventure series about a group of castaways trapped on a mysterious island. "I kept watching it and I was fascinated," he recalls. "They'd introduce these things and I thought that I knew where it was going. Then they'd introduce and I'd rethink it." Like many "Lost" fans, Martin resented the series's mystical ending, which left dozens of narrative threads dangling. "We watched it every week trying to ﬁgure it out, and as it got deeper and deeper I kept saying, ‘They better have something good in mind for the end. This end better pay off here.' And then I felt so cheated when we got to the conclusion."
Martin says he's terrified that he'll "fuck it up" at the end of A Song of Ice and Fire and "do a Lost."
When it comes to worldbuilding, he only creates the stuff he actually needs for the story.
Unlike J.R.R. Tolkien, one of his heroes, Martin doesn't consider himself an architect when it comes to world-building. He only creates stuff that he needs, and doesn't develop a whole lexicon of every language or create every detail of his settings. Writes Miller in the New Yorker:
Tolkien created entire languages, mythologies, and histories for Middle-earth long before he wrote the novels set there. Martin told me that many of his fans assume that he is as meticulous a world-builder as Tolkien was. "They write to say, ‘I'm fascinated by the languages. I would like to do a study of High Valyrian'"-an ancient tongue. "‘Could you send me a glossary and a dictionary and the syntax?' I have to write back and say, ‘I've invented seven words of High Valyrian.'"
He's been tinkering with parts of A Dance With Dragons for a decade.
There's one chapter, involving Tyrion Lannister, which he's pulled out and taken apart and put back in several times — including once as a dream sequence, according to the New Yorker article.
He created six different TV pilots, of all of which he still feels could have been great shows.
There was Doorways, of course, his show which was suspiciously similar to Sliders, which came out a year after Doorways fell through. But there were other pilots, including Starport and The Survivors. He tells the Times, "in some alternate world, maybe I became Joss Whedon or J. J. Abrams."
Top image: Vale of Arryn from the Song of Ice and Fire calendar.