Time: George R. R. Martin interview, “I am going to finish these books!”

LordOfLore

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Sep 1, 2015
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Link to the full thing.

Some quotes:
Does the writing still feel improvisational for you? Even with an endgame in mind, do you still feel like you’re learning things about the world of Westeros?

Yes. That’s not anything that’s unique to Westeros or Game of Thrones. It’s just the way I work and have always worked.
In the case of any of my novels, I know where I’m starting from, I know where I want to end up, more or less. I know some of the big turning points along the way, the stuff I’m building for, but you discover an awful lot along the way. Characters rise up and seem more important, and you get to what you’d thought was going to be a big turning point and… the thing you’d thought about two years ago doesn’t really work as well, so you have a better idea! There’s always that process of discovery for me. I know not all writers work that way, but it’s always been the way I work.

Do these new ideas along the way occur in reaction to the TV show Game of Thrones? Do you find yourself trying to complicate or diverge from what’s airing on TV, or to dig into characters who aren’t as heavily featured on the show?

I don’t consider it in those terms. The show is the show and it’s developed a life of its own at this point. I am involved in the show, of course, and have been since the beginning, but my main focus has got to be the books. You have to remember that I started writing this story in 1991 and I first met David and Dan [showrunners Benioff and Weiss] in 2007. I was living with these characters and this world for 16 years before we even started working on the show. They’re pretty fixed in my mind and I’m not going to change anything because of the show, or reaction to the show, or what fans think. I’m just still writing the story that I set out to write in the early 1990s.

Aside from the War of the Roses, what do the books draw upon from history or life?

I had read a lot of history, a lot of historical fiction, a lot of fantasy. There’s a certain dialogue that goes on between generations of writers, particularly science fiction and fantasy writers, because we’re part of this subculture. When I read fantasy books by other writers, particularly Tolkien and some of the other people who followed Tolkien, there’s always this desire in the back of my head to reply to them: “That’s good, but I’d do this part differently,” or, “No, I think you got that wrong.”

I’m not specifically criticizing Tolkien here — I don’t want to be portrayed as blasting Tolkien. People are always trying to set up this me-vs.-Tolkien thing, which I find very frustrating because I worship Tolkien, he’s the father of all modern fantasy, and my world would never exist had he not come first! Nevertheless, I am not Tolkien, and I am doing things differently than he did, despite the fact that I think Lord of the Rings was one of the great books of the 20th century. But there is that dialogue that’s going on between me and Tolkien, and between me and some of the other people who follow Tolkien, and it’s a dialogue that’s continuing.
In the future, when A Song of Ice and Fire is concluded, do you hope to return to working in multifarious genres?

Yes… but I’ve still got years of this to go, and I’m already 68 years old, so… I have enough ideas right now to write other books until I was 168 years old. But I’m probably not going to live to be 168 years old. So how much time do I have? I’m always having new ideas, so I might never write some of these old ideas. So who knows? I write the things that I want to write.

I’ve been lucky with the success of these books and the show. I am going to finish these books; I think I have that obligation to the world and my readers. It’s the thing I’m going to be remembered for. But I will write other things after that, I hope. I might go back to writing short stories. I loved writing short stories. I haven’t done them in many years, but there is something to be said. I am never going to write again a gigantic seven-book opus that takes 30 years!
 

IamDodongo

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Jan 21, 2015
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Well his ass better get to writing. I have a bet with my girlfriend about when Winds of Winter will release.

I think I'm totally losing this one :/
 

yyzjohn

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Apr 24, 2013
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"I loved writing short stories. I haven’t done them in many years, but there is something to be said. I am never going to write again a gigantic seven-book opus that takes 30 years!"

Given that he said himself he started in 1991, that means completion date of 2021. Thanks George!
 

a916

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Jul 10, 2013
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It's crazy how at one point it was believed he'd try to finish Winds of Winter before Season 06 started... man.
 

Betty

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May 31, 2013
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Nah, you probably won't George.

Seeing all your future plot lines and big moments happen on screen is sapping your desire to finish the books and you'll keep delaying them indefinitely.
 

SocksAndShoes

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Mar 11, 2014
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Ol'e Georgy said:
I’m already 68 years old, so… I have enough ideas right now to write other books until I was 168 years old. But I’m probably not going to live to be 168 years old.
Yeah George. That's probably a good assumption.
 

wenis

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You guys are extremely negative and pessimistic. Has no one told you that?
 

Pein

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Dec 2, 2007
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I mean come on, I can only imagine he's rewriting major plot points that were revealed in the show, if winds isn't out before season 7 part 2, its never coming out.
 

ahoyhoy

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Mar 25, 2008
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Just keep good notes and name the person to finish your series before you die. Make sure it's someone who is a robot at writing and not slow though.
"Slow" doesn't even begin to describe his writing.

If he wrote a mere three sentences a day since aDwD came out, he'd have a 1000 page manuscript to deliver.
 

Matrix XII

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Jun 7, 2013
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Doesn't sound like he really wants to finish it. I wonder if he'd ever hand it over to Sanderson at some point? Although, Sanderson is a busy guy with the Stormlight Archive (which is beyond brilliant btw).
 

Travo

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Jul 31, 2014
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I'm still holding out hope that the reason he's taking so long as that he's writing both books and knock them out within a year of each other. Isn't that what Stephen King ended up doing with the Dark Tower?
 

BossDarkseid

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Just keep good notes and name the person to finish your series before you die. Make sure it's someone who is a robot at writing and not slow though.
Is there another fantasy author - who isn't full of themselves - who would be willing to take the task on though? If he had to hand the reigns over I'd want Gaiman to write since they've been friends since he wrote Sandman, but I think Gaiman holds him in too much reverence to want to do it.
 

ahoyhoy

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Mar 25, 2008
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Wonder how much temptation there is to just write a novelization of the last few seasons of GoT.

No one would ever know!