George R.R. Martin was the guest of honor at Con Carolinas in Charlotte, NC. He met many adoring fans, read from his upcoming book The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros, and answered many stirring questions.
George R.R. Martin has been a full-time writer for more than 30 years and has worked in television as a Story Editor, Executive Story Consultant, Producer, and Co-Supervising Producer among other roles. He is a New York Times Bestselling author and his work has garnered a multitude of awards and honors. With all his success, one may think he would take to being reclusive and distant from his fans, but quite the opposite is true. In the autograph signings he was personable and funny, on one instance a family set their child on the table to keep from having to hold him and jokingly Martin responded “Whoa, I don’t sign babies!”
In the reading he was able to bring the story to life and hold the audience’s attention for a full hour and a half which is doubly impressive considering that he was reading from a history book, albeit a fictional one, as opposed to a novel. You can read the sample chapter from his upcoming book, The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros, here.
As a part of the question and answer event, Martin answered fan questions which ranged from why he wrote a character the way he did to what we can expect in the future. Many questions he could not fully answer because he can’t give away anything that is in the books or will be in future books, but the questions he did answer gave insight into his process, writing decisions, and other aspects of the world of Westeros.
When asked about the way we are supposed to view or feel about Elia Martell (is there more to her than we have seen so far), Martin responded “One of the things I learned from Jack Vance, he made his secondary and tertiary characters come to life and actual people of realm, I try to keep that in mind when writing my character. I try to give all of my characters an internal life even if they only appear in a few scenes, and try to see the world through their eyes for that period of time.” He also tried to explain that he cannot control what happens on the television show, and therefore cannot explain what will come next as it often differs, at least partially, from what is in the books.
He was asked why he chooses to use songs and bards so prominently in his books, and if we can expect to see more of them in the future. His answer was that Tolkien used songs and bards in his works, and he enjoyed the way that they fit the story. He also added that “they don’t have television in Westeros… and bards fulfilled a function in society. They are the source of legends and myths. They spread tales from castle to castle and realm to realm, and they help to unite people together.” He also spoke to his poor treatement of bards in the book and the power they carry in their role as bards and singers. He goes on to mention that he enjoys hearing the words that we wrote set to music and sung in the television show and at conventions because having only written the lyrics it would be possible that they would not work set to music.
Some of the questions were more comical including one from a teenage girl asking why he made Joffrey “such a hateable character” to which he responded “He’s a thirteen year old boy! Do you know any thirteen year old boys?”
A very interesting question was how he is able to keep track of his world building, as they are very extensive and ever expanding worlds that he has created. In response he said: “I use my brain. My brain is rapidly being filled though. I do have to refresh myself from time to time if I am away from it for awhile… The hardest thing to keep track of is that by now every character is separate and has their own cast of secondary and tertiary characters. A lot of it I know and sometimes I think there’s something wrong with me because what I don’t know is all of your names. I’m using brain synapses that other people use for real people for made up people.”
He is an eloquent and entertaining speaker, and as such an accomplished writer he has a lot to offer. If you ever have the chance to see him speak or meet him you should not hesitate to take the opportunity.
Update: Another example of Martin’s dedication to his fans, and to causes that he cares about, is his recent Prizeo campaign which fans flocked to in droves! You can donate today and get a reward for your donation while also entering to win a trip to go with George RR Martin to a wolf sanctuary! Check out the campaign here.