George R.R. Martin knows he has quite a feat to accomplish by bringing the “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series — and thus the “Game of Thrones” TV series — to a close. While he is hurrying to finish the penultimate book in the series, “The Winds of Winter,” he at least can promise fans that the world of Westeros won’t end when the final chapter of “A Song of Ice and Fire” is written.
Martin was recently in Australia to speak at the Sydney Opera House, and sat down with Brisbane Times to discuss his work in fantasy and his experiences as an opera. When the subject of his emotions surrounding the idea of ending “ASoIaF” was brought up, Martin explained his mixed feelings.
“I don’t think I will say goodbye to the world, because the world is bigger than the story and this particular set of characters,” he says. “I have been writing other things about the world, I’ve been working on this concordance for a couple years, ‘A World of Ice and Fire,’ that should be out next year that’s sort of a history and geography of all the lands. There are many stories contained within that of things that happened 100 or 200 years ago or in some other land across the sea. I’ve been writing the novellas about Dunk and Egg … so I can continue to write more stories within the world, but I will be wrapping up this particular story and this particular set of characters in that world.”
With that being said, Martin still might not have the easiest time saying goodbye to, as he puts it, the “Game of Thrones” characters “who are still alive.” “At the same time it’s going to be an immense relief, because the pressure of this. I do feel a story needs a beginning, a middle and an end. To put an end on this will be an immense monkey off my back,” he says.
Don’t expect Martin to let someone else write in his world either. He’s been very vocal about the tales of Westeros ending with him, and says he respects J.R.R. Tokien’s son Christopher Tolkien preserving the world of Middle-Earth in the same way. ”
“History has shown us is that eventually these literary rights pass to grandchildren or collateral descendants or people who didn’t actually know the writer or his wishes and it’s just a cash cow to them and then we get abominations to my mind like ‘Scarlett,'” he says. “I hope I never see ‘Sauron Strikes Back’ written by some third-rate writer who leaps in at the opportunity.”
Other highlights from the interview include Martin talking about young children coming up to him at conventions asking him for autographs. While some of them he claims are just there to get extra signatures for their parents, others are legitimate fans — and that has him concerned.
“There is a perception in some quarters, usually people who don’t like or don’t read fantasy, that fantasy is kids stuff. It’s got dragons and wizards in it, it must be ‘Harry Potter.’ But let me assure anyone watching this that my books are not ‘Harry Potter’ and they’re not recommended for 8 and 9 year olds, or even 11 and 12 year olds,” he says. “Not unless your kid is really precocious should he be reading my books, the dragons and wizards notwithstanding.”
He also notes that the fact that shows like “Game of Thrones” are among the most popular around is a sign that “the geeks have won.”
“We have conquered popular culture,” he says. “The most popular movies and the most popular television shows are science fiction or fantasy or one flavor or another of imaginative fiction, and we’ve spread into all of these new medias, many of them who were geeks or nerds.”
As for the many online responses to the Red Wedding, Martin admits that he didn’t expect so many fans who knew what was coming to film their unsuspecting friends and loved ones.
“I knew there would be a big reaction to it because I’d been through it 13 years before with the books when the Red Wedding came out in the books, and I knew it would be bigger than it was 13 years before because it’s television and the Internet was that much bigger than it was 13 years ago. But I had no idea it would be not just one or two but hundreds of people who would set up cameras and microphones to see their girlfriends cry and put it on YouTube for all the world to share,” Martin says, adding jokingly, “What more can you ask of life?”
“Game of Thrones” returns to HBO in Spring 2014.