George RR Martin did a lengthy web chat with Empire magazine and it’s a feast for fans of the book and TV show alike. There are a few spoilers here and there, but they are oh-so carefully labeled. As a fan of Martin’s writing and world building, I found his answer on how he creates such a rich tapestry intriguing. He doesn’t forget the little people:
Sometimes when I create a new character, even a very minor character, I have all these ideas about them, and it’s almost as if I could write a whole story about them. Even a character that comes in for a short scene, I want him to be as fleshed as he can be, a real human being, even if it’s just one character. We’re all the hero of our own story. So you might have a scene where two lords are drinking a cup of wine and a servant comes in to pour the wine, and it may be that all our attention is on the lord, but the serving man is a person too, and from his point-of-view the story is, “How long will these guys be talking? My feet hurt. I’m worried about my daughter; is she fooling around with the stable boy?” I may not put that in, but sometimes all it takes is a single word or a single line for a minor character, and suddenly he emerges as a real person before fading back into the background.
And as a bookseller who is always asked “what should I read after Game Of Thrones?” I was pleased to see Martin answer the question himself. His recommendation:
Jack Vance, The Dying Earth. It’s not a series in the same sense that mine is. it’s four books, largely made up of short stories, and share only a setting with each other, and a character in the case of the middle two; the wonderfully amoral and unscrupulous Kugel the Clever, whose schemes and plots always come back to bite him in the butt. But Vance is the great stylist of sci fi and fantasy, no one writes like him, and The Dying Earth is his finest work. With my friend, I edited a tribute anthology a couple of years ago, when writers wrote stories set in the world of The Dying Earth, including myself, Neil Gaiman, Melissa Shepherd, and on and on…
But, in the end, he addressed the question that burns in the heart of TV and book fans alike. WHEN WILL YOU BE DONE, GEORGE?! HOW MUCH LONGER? He simply sates he’ll be done when he’s done but he does give some details on what sort of length we can expect:
Two BIG books. 1500 manuscript pages each - that’s 3000 pages. I think I have a good shot. And you know, if I really get pressed, I’ve already established that red comet. I can just have it hit Westeros and wipe out all life.
As long as the red comet makes King’s Landing its epicenter, I’m okay with it.