Game Of Thrones - Interview with George R.R. Martin

as the only man alive who knows how to

play the game of Thrones and win George

RR mine's the best-selling author in the

English language right now with over 15

main books sold worldwide he's a great

prose writer

I mean his prose is incredibly vivid

incredibly gripping the most famous of

which this epic story of Ice and Fire

series better known these days is Game

of Thrones

ultimately it's real-world drama but in

a fantasy setting it's almost a medieval

soap opera love hate jealousy rivalry

political intrigue family conflict today

it's a global TV phenomenon and we are

all playing the game now but whose side

are you on

my name is Grace then and last week I

was looking up to me the great man

himself and get an exclusive insight

into what makes him tick George you've

opened up this genre a fantasy that I

would have never have looked at before

so I wanted to thank you for that and I

also wanted to say thank you for

creating in my opinion one of the

strongest pieces of television the last

few years well thank you thank you and

I'm gonna I'm gonna leave my phone girl

tried to create a completely

professional from now on herself

can you tell me just a little bit about

your childhood

sure I was born in 1948 in Bayonne New

Jersey which is a blue-collar industrial

town my father was a longshoreman we

never had much money so we never went

anywhere we did not even own a car I

lived in a world that was five blocks

long my school was on Fifth Street

I lived on First Street from the

projects where I lived I could see these

huge tankers flying all the flags of the


I had a big book of flags that I would

look at that watch the ships go by and

wonder what countries they came from and

I'd look up and say oh that one's from

Norway and that one's from South Africa

or whatever and dream about being on

those ships and then I found books and

in books I could go to Mars

I could go to King Arthur's Court I

could hunt through Sherwood Forest with

Robin Hood I could fight Martians being

with HG Wells and you know it opened

worlds for me enabled me to live life

and I think that's what fantasy does


I've always made up stories I found

notebooks that I had since I was a kid

where I'm writing you know I can't be

more than five or six I'm drawing

pictures of the planets and writing Mars

and then descriptions of all the people

who live on Mars and and made-up planets

you know I didn't know the distinction

between Mars on one hand and Zoomba on

the other so from the age of five

it was fantasy fiction fantasy science

fiction and horror which I called

monster stories

who in the literary world were you

influenced by all simply in off when I

was quite young my bigfooter influence

was comic books okay I mean I read all

the comic books of the time Superman and

Batman and the superhero comics were my

favorites age 60 you pulled off an

amazing coup and had a letter in Marvel

okay I had a number of letters in Marvel

the first one was in Fantastic Four and

it was about Stan Lee and was better

than Shakespeare Marvel published all of

my letters but it led to stuff because

in those days when they printed your

letter they printed your full address

underneath it so other comic book fans

begin to send me letters and they began

to send me fanzines and a lot of them

were produced by high school kids which

is what I was at the time and I started

subscribing to some and then I started

writing for some I wrote some articles

some critical articles saying about what

comics I liked and what I didn't like

and what was wrong with the bad ones and

then I started writing some fiction

because they also published fiction and

that was the big breakthrough how did it

feel it felt great other people started

sending in letters saying how much they

liked it yeah you know the ego boo as

they called it ego boosting that made me

feel tremendous

after comics came numerous short stories

and even the odd novel and by the end of

the seventies George was well on his way

to becoming a full-time writer but then

Hollywood came calling

suddenly you you've gone from working

alone and it's beautifully crafted

pieces that your baby to going into a

television world where it's lots of

people and lots of egos how did you find

that writing novels is very lonely work

I mean it's essentially just you and in

those days a typewriter and a blank

sheet of paper so I actually liked

working with other people and I loved

seeing my stories assume tangible

reality you know the first time one of

my scripts was actually film was

adaptation for Twilight Zone sort of an

otherworldly version of Stonehenge and

when I actually saw carpenters building

stonehenge on the soundstage behind my

office it was an amazing feeling it was

these things that I'd made up are are

actually growing people were actually

putting them together and here are

actors coming in and actually saying my

words but there's the dark side and and

you have the network and the studio

these two Darth Vader forces that

periodically reach down and mess with

your scripts or your shows or or do

things sell them in a positive manner

and that's frustrating on the third hand

there were large dump trucks full of


after decade writing scripts on hit TV

shows like Beauty and the Beast

George was now a big-shot riot producer

until one day in 1991 we had an idea did

he set out to write an epic saga I heard

a wonderful quote from you where he said

I knew that all was lost when I began to

sketch a map in the summer of 91 I had

no current Hollywood assignments and

then one day from I don't know where I

suddenly thought of this scene where

these wolf pups are discovered with

their dead mother by some medieval type

people riding through the summer snows I

knew they were summer snows that was

somehow that phrase was very important

to me and it just came to me so vividly

that I had to write it it's a freak it's

a direwolf

I wrote that chapter it only took me

about three days and by the time I was

finished I knew what the chapter after

that had to be and then the chapter

after that I wound up spending the rest

of that summer working on what would

eventually be Game of Thrones and indeed

somewhere in there I did indeed stop and

draw the map which was the point where I

said okay I know what this is now this

is a fantasy novel and I need to design

the world that it goes in like like

Tolkien's middle-earth and come up with

a name for it and come up with a

genealogy logistically how do you keep

track of everything that's going I mean

I love to think you've just got maps and

everything's mapped out on walls or is

it really just in your mind I remember

these things that I make up better than

I remember real people or events I

remember some obscure character who

appeared three novels ago in one

paragraph but I don't remember someone I

met yesterday I bump into them the

following day in another context and I

don't know who they are so that

obviously the brain neurons that other

people use to deal with real life in my

my brain are wired differently so he's

George are the new Jay are

tolkien that is

Tolkien's characters as much as those

beloved everyone lost Roy and Gandalf

they don't quite have that that flawed

realism that the characters have you

inhabit Martin's well do I really like

Martin's work and I'd set it aside from

talking to work and say it's its own

classic I much prefer who's talking I

would say it's better than talking yeah

I find talking a bit humorless I don't

think it's a matter of me replacing him

or overtaking him or anything like that

if I if my work is being read fifty

years from now as Tolkien's worked was

being read I'll be thrilled

the remarkable thing for me was this is

a genre that I had not looked at before

and I wasn't expecting to find these

characters that I can really identify

with and I would seem you know these are

people from a world that that don't

really exist but they're having the same

kind of problems that I do yeah I've

always felt that parrot er is the heart

of fiction if you make the characters

real then the rest of the furniture

around them is is almost incidental

you'll still have a powerful story

you'll still have a story that will

involve and affect your your reader so

for me character is is really what what

fiction is all about with the the

characters in Game of Thrones they're

very free dimensional that you get to

now all their characteristics they're

people you would sit next to at dinner

they're not worried about retrieving a

magical amulet from somewhere you know

they're worried about who's gonna kill

them or whether they're gonna get to eat

next week or who they're gonna have sex

with next he's certainly an incredible

master of of plots and of character I

think throughout this immense series of

novels you get constant shifts and

developments in character which is the

mark of a really really good writer

away with you dog I'm scaring my Lanie I

don't like to see you upset you're a

very accessible author yeah yes

which has good and bad to it I tell you

it just never dawned on me to to erect

all these protective walls about myself

when you go to the conventions into the

book signings do you still just feel

like a fanboy yourself going and looking

at the merchandise and meeting people

are like you or do you feel like you've

moved to another plane now I can

remember book signings back in the in

the 80s and where where no one would

come obviously those days have gone and

I saw with each volume of Ice and Fire

the crowds have gotten bigger and would

feast for crows and with dance with

Carrie against the last two books the

crowds have been enormous but the fans

are about to go even crazy oh and HBO

announced it was adapting the first book

in fact we all went stark raving mad

Game of Thrones see you after the break

welcome back to my exclusive chat with

the genius behind Game of Thrones mr.

george RR martin in July 2010 filming

started in Northern Ireland on the first

book in might in Song of Ice and Fire

series fans everywhere held their breath

when I heard they were turning into TV

shows initially apprehensive then I

found that was HBO I thought if anyone

could do it's gonna be them I was very

nervous but then when I saw the casting

and I started watching it I was so

excited described by some as the

Sopranos and middle earth the budget for

the first series was a mind blown 60

million dollars if you read the books

it's almost as if they were designed

written with an HBO series in mind you

follow one character in their interest

for a given moment then you flash to the

next one scene by scene by scene by

scene for years the television landscape

has been awash with cop shows and

medical dramas but I think fantasy and

particularly fantasy on this scale it's

something brand-new and I think that's

why it's captured people's imaginations

I think your ability to create strong

complex women is quite remarkable Cersei

Lannister I love her she's the first

person I've ever become attached to

who's in an incestuous relationship and

it's an incestuous relationship that I

root for because I actually think that

they're a great couple boy talk if it

does I'll kill him stop the king when

you read a book or see a TV show if you

get the hero and you have the villain

one is black and one is white and

everybody responds to them the same way

we like the hero

we hiss at the villain then you're

dealing with cardboard if the characters

are fully fleshed and complicated then

people are gonna react to them

differently just as if they were real

people people watching the TV show are

gonna tend to like Cersei more than

people who are just reading the books

and that's due to the brilliance of Lena

Headey and her wonderful performance as

Cersei she's giving her dimension of

humanity and explaining her motivations

and wonderfully nuanced performance she

loves her children she does she loves

the children that's a redeeming feature

that had a cheekbones do I have to marry

him yes she's very beautiful and young

and if you don't like her you only need

to see her on formal occasions and when

the time comes to make little princes

and princesses and if you'd rather [ __ ]

painted [ __ ] you'll [ __ ] painted

[ __ ] can I talk to you about Joffrey I

have never been so moved

fated by a body on television in my

entire life he's unsettling and hateable

on so many different levels so you've

got this tiny psychopath born of incest

with a tendency for woman beaten and

sexually perverted malice and worse

probably in my opinion and all of this

he was responsible for the

one of the direwolves in the first

series my theory is he somebody that you

went to school with you know there might

be something to that I think he's about

five or six people they went to school

with you got face

I like a pretty Joffrey is a classic

bully in many ways and he's very full of

himself and he's incredibly he's spoiled

I mean he was raised without limits and

he's got two fathers neither of which

has ever really given him much of what

you would call fatherly attention or

discipline I think in some senses he's

still trying to impress his fathers

we're being very fortunate in our actor

I mean Jack Gleeson

who is by the way the nicest kid in the

world and he's terrific and he's doing

such an amazing job that I think people

are threatening him on the street and

wanting to go up and slap him and

wouldn't be society gets assaulted

somehow your girl butchers boy attacked

my son animal of hers nearly tore his

arm off that's not true just bit him a

little he was hurting Mycah a big

favorite of people that I speak to his


the little girl rejecting all the

conventions of her sex to become this

young warrior she was one of my

favorites right from the beginning

I mean people often ask me who's my

favorite character and my answer is

always Tyrion but but Aria is probably

the the second favorite and it's pretty

pretty close she's always a joy to write

Maisie Williams

what a fine she was I will we look

through hundreds of girls for aria and

she's become a real favorite in the TV

show Game of Thrones is absolutely full

of sex and I'd like to thank you for

that because I enjoy that very much oh

good well why well life is very full of

sex should be you know I'm as much as I

admire Tolkien and I do he was a he was

a giant of fantasy and a giant of

literature and I think he wrote a great

book that will be read for for many

years but you do have to wonder

we're all those hobbits came from since

you can't imagine hobbits having sex can

you well sex is a important part of who

we are it drives us it motivates us it

makes us do sometimes very noble things

it makes us do sometimes incredibly

stupid things leave it out and you've

got an incomplete world

and I get letters regularly from people

say oh I loved your books until I hit

the pornography and now I will never

read them again because you're just a

dirty pornographer I write back to some

of them and I say I'm sorry you feel

that way you know you can you can skip

over those scenes if you want but

although some of them are important for

revealing things about character or

revealing plot points what I never get

any complaints about of course is the

violence and this is uniquely American

here that I can describe in exquisite

detail and acts entering a man's skull

and splattering blood and brains not a


I describe a penis entering a vagina in

equivalent detail the world has ended

but the sex isn't just on screen in Game

of Thrones especially for fans of the

Dothraki Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryen I'm

actually having a number of people

naming their children Daenerys they send

me pictures of their babies and

sometimes bring them to my signings

three or four years from now the first

wave of Daenerys will be hitting

kindergarten and and grammar school I

wonder what the teachers are gonna make

of this they're gonna have a hard time

spelling the name with all those A's and

E's and Y's and things like that the

Dragons daughter and I swear to you

that those who would harm you will die

screaming knowing how passionate the

fans are you still feel asleep kill off

people's favorite characters the

beheading of Ned Stark in the first

series was such a shock to viewers is

this something you do lightly do you

write that line in the book and then go

downstairs and simply have a cup of

coffee no no it's never easy bring me

his head when when it happened in the

book you know a few reviewers made note

of it all there's a shocking development

at the end you know Martin's not afraid

to kill his characters etc but it was no

big thing it was it was a little ripple

when it happened in a TV show was like a

bomb had exploded on the internet went

crazy and YouTube went crazy and the

email started pouring in to the show and

to HBO and lots of reviews were oh my

god no one has ever done this sort of

thing before etcetera etc and if you're

gonna write a story about war and

intrigue and death and all that you you

have to establish to your readers or

your viewers that that you're playing

for real that these people are in actual

danger look at him


as the books go on you can never predict

who's going to stay alive and who's

going to die and I think that's the most

important it's completely real you could

you couldn't predict the ending at all I

don't know where he's going I'd love to

em you know I'd love to meet him and ask

him what he stands out for the future do

you know how the Ice and Fire series is

going to end I do and broad strokes I

know the ending I know the fates of the

principal characters maybe not all the

secondary and tertiary characters but

certainly the the main players I've

known that you know for a long time ago

with at least two more books still to be

written and a third TV series currently

in production this game of Thrones is

far from over

in fact it's hardly even begun George

it's been an absolute thrill to have you

it's been my pleasure

glad to be here