north americaeurope
george r. r. martin

interview 02:04

[DGN] I'm sure it will be for the best. Will it be of comparable length to its predecessors?

[GRRM] Well, roughly. I mean, the length of the first three varies by 400 pages in manuscript. I don't think this will be of a comparable length with ‘A Storm of Swords', which was the biggest episode – 1500 pages in manuscript. It was too long, almost on the borderline of being unpublishable. In retrospect I might have shortened ‘A Storm of Swords', moved some material from that book into this one, and then this book would have been out sooner. But that's not so easy to do. I don't look at these things as sausages, where I'm just writing and lopping it off when I have enough pages. I want all of these to have an artistic unity with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Something approaching an end, not a total end – that'll be at the end of the last book – but there should be a sense of closure to the book. Certain movements, to use a term from music, should be concluded. Certain phases of the story should be ending while other ones begin. That's where I want to be when I end this book, as I did for the previous three.


[DGN] Right now, do you have a concrete idea about how many books this series is going to be?

[GRRM] I was planning for six, but I'm not going to make any guarantees. That's still my hope. I'll know better when I'm finished this one.


[DGN] Do you have a have a tentative title for the final book?

[GRRM] The Winds of Winter.


[DGN] On your website, you've posted a sample chapter from ‘A Feast for Crows'. I was wondering if you had any plans to include additional selections as the release date draws closer.

[GRRM] I'll probably put up a new sample from time to time.


[DGN] Do you have any problems with your publisher about items like that?

[GRRM] No, they're encouraging it. They think it builds up enthusiasm for the book.


[DGN] In general, it seems newer fantasy is moving towards works of greater magnitude. Contemporary fantasy such as ‘The Wheel of Time' ,which is set to eclipse ten books, and other works are getting progressively longer. On your website, you pointed out that ‘A Game of Thrones' is longer than the ‘Lord of the Rings' trilogy in its entirety. Do you have any thoughts on this particular trend?

[GRRM] Well, Tolkien really started it. If you go all the way back to Tolkien, ‘Lord of the Rings' was an incredibly huge book for its day. It doesn't seem so to us today, but when it came out in the fifties, very few people would publish a book that large, especially in that genre of publishing. In Science fiction - even through the sixties and early seventies – most of the novels were sixty to seventy thousand words. A major book would maybe go to a hundred thousand. Tolkien's book was so big they divided it into three. That was the publisher's decision, not his. He always intended ‘Lord of the Rings' to be a single book, regarded as a single novel. They did divide it into three, and that was a commercial publishing decision. As a result of the success of the series, it sort of set the template. Starting in the seventies, when some Tolkien imitators started coming along, they started writing trilogies too. That's what he did – he wrote a trilogy – so they wrote trilogies, and fairly substantial books at that. I think Jordan was the one who really broke that mould. His series was not a trilogy, (laughs) was a lot more than a trilogy, and suddenly the trilogy template that had ruled since Tolkien was put aside. For my own series, I intended a trilogy when I started out. The books were supposed to be ‘A Game of Thrones', ‘A Dance of Dragons', and ‘The Winds of Winter'. As happened with Lord of the Rings, as Tolkien said, ‘the tale grew with the telling'. At this point I've just resigned myself to telling the story. I'm going to tell the story beginning, middle and end, and all the twists and turns along the way. We'll see how many books it is. I'm not going to worry about trilogies and how many boxes we're gonna put it in.


[DGN] (Laughs). You've built a very incredible world in ‘A Song of Ice and Fire'. You've filled a lot of pages with fantastic backstory, history, and references, as well as different characters and events. Do you have any plans for a companion/concordance book?

[GRRM] Yes, I've talked about that, and I do have plans for that down the road sometime. Certainly I want to publish ‘A Feast for Crows' first, and maybe the next book after that. Then, maybe at that point we'll have enough to do a concordance of some sort.