George R.R. Martin regrets not staying ahead of "Game of Thrones"

The author spoke while in Chicago getting an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Northwestern University

By Dan Selcke
Published June 23, 2021 8:52PM (EDT)
"Game of Thrones" author George R.R. Martin at Castle Ward, which stands in for the fictional Winterfell Castle (Liam McBurney/PA Images via Getty Image)
"Game of Thrones" author George R.R. Martin at Castle Ward, which stands in for the fictional Winterfell Castle (Liam McBurney/PA Images via Getty Image)

This story originally appeared on Winter is Coming.

"A Song of Ice and Fire" author George R.R. Martin was back in Chicago earlier this week, getting an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Northwestern University. While he was visiting, he gave an interview to local station WTTW, where he talked about writing, fame, and more.

Naturally, WTTW asked him what he thought about "Game of Thrones" — the tremendously popular HBO series adapted from his books — two years out from the ending. "It was the popular television show in the world for a time. It won more Emmys than any other show in television history," he said. "I'm very pleased to be associated with it. It also made me famous, which I have mixed about feelings about. I think it was Bill Murray who said if you dream of fame and fortune, try just fortune first. There is something to say for that. Fame is definitely a double-edged sword."

That said, Martin has no plans to leave that story behind. "I've been writing stories about Westeros and the people who live there, the Seven Kingdoms, since 1991," he said. "It's such a huge part of my life at this point . . . It's transformed my life, for good or for ill. It is where I am. And I do love Westeros, I love telling stories about it, so there's a lot more stories to tell."

Those stories include a number of "Game of Thrones" prequel series that Martin is helping develop — he thinks that the first, House of the Dragon, will "probably be on next spring" — and the next, long-awaited book in this series, "The Winds of Winter." Fans have been waiting over a decade for that one, and Martin is as frustrated as they are. "[L]ooking back, I wish I'd stayed ahead of the books," he said.

When they began ["Game of Thrones"], I had four books already in print, and the fifth one came out just as the series was starting in 2011. I had a five-book head start, and these are gigantic books . . . I never thought they would catch up with me, but they did. They caught up with me and passed me! That made it a little strange, because now the show was ahead of me and the show was going in somewhat different directions. I'm still working on the book, but you'll see my ending when that comes out.

When that comes out.

How George R.R. Martin's Chicago experiences inspired "Game of Thrones"

The whole interview is pretty cool, as Martin discusses his days as a writer and how some experiences at Northwestern made their way into his stories, like how Chicago's infamous blizzard of 1967 inspired life at the Wall. "They had to dig trenches from the door [of the dorm] to the doors of other buildings," Martin remembered. "It was like the trench system in World War I, except instead of mud, it was made of snow. You would be in this trench with the walls higher than your head!"

You can watch the full interview here.


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