We are also including a transcription below, under the cut, for those who prefer to read their interviews, but we hope you check out the video to see a few looks at George’s office. At the end of this episode, we mention Ice & Fire Con, Westeros: An American Musical, and Queens: The Musical, so there are a few links for your convenience.
Ashaya: If someone’s watching or listening to this interview, they’ve probably read or listened to all of your interviews. So let’s try to go on some untreaded on ground.
Aziz: Yeah. You’re…
George: There are probably hundreds of those interviews.
Ashaya: Oh, there’s a lot.
George: They’re out there, I
Aziz: so many, yeah.
Ashaya: It’s a great, great resource.
Aziz: And our listeners are the types who are very experienced. They’re not new. They haven’t… they’ve read the series, most people have read series more than once. So they… they’ve heard interviews with you before. This is almost certainly any listener to our show has probably heard an interview with you before. So…
Ashaya: Like I said in advance, this will be edited. So if at any point…
George: So you won’t ask me who is my favorite character?
Ashaya: We won’t ask you that. We know it’s Victarion, you’ve said it many times. But no, it will be edited, so feel free… If you’re like put that off the record… So we wanted to bring up, we wanted to talk about topics like House of the Dragon, writing and adaptation, fandom itself, and conventions, and some listener submitted questions as well, just to let you know what we’re gonna talk about today.
Ashaya: One thing that we thought was really interesting and we wrote a little bit of a chapter about your works called the Game of Thrones Effect, and there’s a lot of references to A Song of Ice and Fire in things like scientific taxonomy. There’s a lot of species named after you… Are you aware of all of them? Do they let you know about every one of these?
George: Not every one. I’ve heard about a few over the years where someone has said some new kind of cricket or sea worm or something like that has been named either after, mostly after my characters, not after me myself.
Ashaya: Yeah. Most, yeah.
Aziz: There’s Meraxes gigas, was a new one. It’s a new dinosaur. And there’s, I dunno how to say this, but Ochyrocera varys, it’s a spider, of course. And there’s…
Ashaya: There’s a really funny one, speaking of the deep sea worms that you mentioned. There’s a Hodor anduril. They combined Lord of the Rings with Hodor… A very weird decision by those scientists, but good on them.
George: Oh, very cool. You should send me a list of all these.
Ashaya: We should, yeah, there’s a lot. We’ll say Tolkien has you beat.
George: I’m not really aware. I would blog about that. That would…
Ashaya: Yeah, there’s probably 20 or something named after your characters and Tolkien’s got like a hundred plus. So you got a while to go.
George: As far as I know, though, however no one has yet named a star or planet or any extraterrestrial kind of thing after me or a crater on Pluto.
There are other science fiction fantasy writers who have had things like that named after them. I was a science fiction writer mostly when I began, as you probably know.
Aziz: Oh yeah. Yeah.
George: I always wrote fantasy too, but when I started in the seventies, when I first started publishing professionally…
Fantasy, yeah, Tolkien had been big, but he was considered a freakish, one of a kind thing. Oh this is not a genre. This is a, a bestselling book that was very big, but no one will ever duplicate it. So fantasy was compared to, uh, the markets for science fiction and I wrote a lot of science fiction in those days.
Aziz: That’s interesting. Yeah. We’ve read Thousand Worlds stuff. I’ve read all of it and it’s amazing. Is there any thought to, I know that Nightflyers was a thing, is there any thought of any of the other ones getting adapted or…?
George: Yeah, we occasionally talk about things like that. Nightflyers was adapted twice, once as a movie in 1987 and then as the TV show that came on on the SyFy channel just a year before last, I think it was. Sandkings was also adapted as a two hour premiere of the revived Outer Limits.
And there… various people have tried to make a Sandkings movie over the years. There have been a number of screenplays written and some better than others. But so far we haven’t actually got a green light on that. As a… That is something that I wish more of the fans understood.
Where I really, sometimes I wonder from the comments I get, whether all of the fans or readers out there understood how Hollywood works and all that. I have a large backlist of stories and books that I wrote. I wrote 70 or 80 short stories, many of them the Thousand World stories you’re referring to, but also a few fantasies, a few science fiction stories that took place in other universes, a number of contemporary horror stories, or historical horror stories.
I wrote a number of novels before, and I had 20 years from 1971 when I sold my first story to 1991, which is when I began Game of Thrones. And all those stories are out there. And I have agents and managers who are, eagerly trying to sell the rights to them.
And every time one of them sells and we make an announcement, I get this wave of people angry. ‘Oh, he’s not working on Winds of Winter. He’s not working on this thing.’ I’m not working on it, don’t you understand? It’s like…
Aziz: You wrote that 20 years ago!
George: I wrote this story in 1979. Someone bought it. They gave me a big pot of money and good luck to them. And maybe I have a meeting with them or lunch.
Maybe they ask me my opinion. Maybe they don’t ask me my opinion and they just do it anyway. But thanks to my agents, I get a nice credit on it in the front. That doesn’t mean I’ve put aside Winds of Winter to work on this project. I… my work on that project was largely done in 1979 or 1984 or whatever.
George: That drives me a little crazy. I don’t know if people really don’t understand the way Hollywood works or, or not.
Ashaya: They don’t understand.
Aziz: They don’t. We actually had planned to ask some questions that clarified some of that, maybe in line with that, so that’s great.
For example, I think that there’s, if we’re talking about the current TV show and the past TV show, there was an understanding that you were more of on a consultant level for the first TV show.
If maybe that’s not the right term or co-producer, I dunno the exact terms, but your involvement with House of the Dragon’s, obviously much greater…
George: My title on Game of Thrones was co-executive producer. And now it’s executive producer on this one. I I lost a co. I that’s another thing that, that I think fans don’t understand and sometimes people in Hollywood don’t understand them either, which is, you particularly the, the producer title. I remember during my first go round in television, back in the eighties and nineties I was hired on Twilight Zone.
It was the first show I worked on, not the original one with Rod Serling. I’m old, but I’m not that old. I was in grade school when the Rod Serling show was, but the Twilight Zone was revived by Phil Deguere in the mid eighties, 85, 85, 86. And I wrote five scripts for that show. And I was brought on and I was brought on as a staff writer.
That is probably the lowest title that you can get on a television show. And you can tell it’s the lowest title, cause it’s the only one that actually has the word writer in it. They like to hide that, but after that I was promoted to story editor. And then when I went to… Twilight Zone ended, and I went to Beauty and the Beast, I was hired as executive story editor. Executive story editor is better than story editor. It’s… executive is like, that’s a plus sign. And then from executive story editor, I got the title on Beauty and the Beast, co-producer and that was a promotion and there was more money and it’s a better title.
It has the P word in it. The P word is very important. But I looked around and I said, there are no other co producers. How can I be co producer? Doesn’t co producer imply that there would be like another co producer? No, co producer is just like a minus. Executive is a plus, co producer’s a minus.
I’m not quite as high up the ladder as a producer, I’m only a co producer. So you go up the ladder. Eventually, of course, I did get promoted to producer and then later I got to be co-supervising producer and then supervising producer without the co. You climb these things here.
Aziz: It’s way more ranked than I thought.
Ashaya: Could you elaborate?
George: It… it’s complicated. And they change it all the time. Because an executive producer is, you know, back in the eighties and nineties when I was active, there was… most shows had only one executive producer and that was the showrunner. Showrunner was a term that the public never heard.
Ashaya: Very different now.
George: You never see a screen title, Showrunner: Bill Smith, right?
You never see that title and the public didn’t know anything about that, but the showrunner was the executive producer. He was the boss. And if you watch a show like that was on in those days, like Dallas or something like that, usually that credit was the last credit at the end of the episode.
You would see on Dallas, J.R.’s face, he would be shocked when something had happened and it would be Executive Producer Philip Capice, I still remember, I never met the man, but there was his title over J.R.’s face, week after week. And there was only one executive producer… on Twilight Zone, our executive producer was Phil Deguere.
And on Beauty and the Beast, it was Ron Koslow. They were creators, they were executive producers, they were the showrunners. But over the years I guess people had been, I don’t know quite how it happened. So I’m speaking entirely from ignorance. Yeah. But I guess people had been an executive producer on a show and that show had been canceled and now they were hiring onto another show, but they didn’t wanna take a lower title, even though they weren’t the showrunner on the later show, they go, I have to keep my title.
So suddenly shows started having two or three or four executive producers. And now we have a lot of executive producers on a lot of shows. But only one of them or sometimes two of them is the showrunner.
Ashaya: Yeah. Sometimes two.
George: So it has gotten very complicated.
Aziz: So showrunner’s kinda a new… it wasn’t, it’s new term, but it’s a new title ish thing.
George: It’s not an official title, but it is, everybody knows who the showrunner is: he’s the boss. You know, ultimately a network or the studio is the boss. But, of the people actually working on the show, the showrunner’s the highest one. And obviously on Game of Thrones, it was David Benioff and DB Weiss.
George: And they were the showrunners. There were other executive producers by the end. And then there were several of us co-executive producers, but they were the showrunners clearly. And on this new show, it’s Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal. I have the same title as them, but I’m not the showrunner, and there are a number of other people who are also executive producers.
Aziz: If you do this, if you move forward with the Jon Snow show, you’ll need a snowrunner for that.
Ashaya: So could you elaborate a little bit on how much creative control you feel like you have on these new endeavors, these new projects, like House of the Dragon, versus before? Do you feel like your role has changed at all?
George: Yeah. I don’t have any creative control, as you say. That is the hardest thing to get in Hollywood. No matter what the project is, whether it’s a feature or a film. It’s given out very infrequently.
JK Rowling had a certain amount of creative control on Harry Potter, cause every studio in Hollywood wanted Harry Potter and they were all queuing up and she demanded script approval and other things…
Ashaya: But you don’t demand script approval.
George: Hollywood will give you money a lot easier than they’ll give you creative control, you can go to negotiations and say yes, I will thank you for paying me 8 million dollars, but I would like creative control as well. And they will say, how about 10 million? Haha. They would rather give millions of dollars than any creative control.
Ashaya: At a certain point, I feel like, you’ve got a lot of money. You have to be able to decide, I don’t want the money. Gimme the control.
George: Which was obviously JK Rowling’s attitude. I don’t really know privately for negotiations, but she had a number of suitors. What I do have is influence, I have creative influence. Yeah, but that depends largely on the relationship between myself and the showrunners and so forth. I mean, I can make points, I can argue and they can listen, but if they decide not to listen, then you know, I can persuade them. I don’t have the power to hire or to fire.
I don’t have the power to dictate things, but what I have, if they listen to me and I can be fairly persuasive and I know this material pretty well, so, there’s that something and it’s always changing. I mean, it’s… you know, I had a lot of input in the beginning of Game of Thrones, partly cause I had these books out there.
But at a certain point, as the show went on I found I had less and less influence until by the end, I really didn’t even know what was going on. Some of these things I watched like everybody else, and ‘oh, okay.’
Ashaya: That’s… you could have given me a call and let me know.
George: Now at the moment I’m very happy with House of the Dragon. It’s a very faithful adaptation. Yeah, there’s some changes, but I have a great relationship with Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik.
Ashaya: We’ve got a good feeling about him. We’ve really liked all the interviews he’s done. He said all the right things so far.
Aziz: Yeah. We’re interviewing Ryan in a little while too.
Ashaya: Yeah. Later this month.
George: But there are, as you say, a number of other shows in development and everyone has a different showrunner and writer, every relationship there is different. So we shall see how all of those evolve.
Ashaya: So for House of the Dragon specifically, I’ve got a listener submitted question for you that I think all of us care a lot about, so I’m just gonna read it, cause I think they’ve framed it in a really good way. From Curtis W. Franks, he asked, how should we treat House of the Dragon in terms of canon? I would be treating it as yet another narrative competing with Mushroom and other sources. It is one possible explanation and take on the sequence of events, but not necessarily more correct than any of the others when they are in conflict, it would add yet more historiographic complexity to the story…how do you feel about that interpretation? Should we prioritize these interpretations over others when there is an outright conflict between them? So speak to canon.
George: Okay. That’s a very eloquently put question.
Ashaya: Yes. I think he did a good job with that. Thanks, Curtis.
George: It opens a very large area for discussion. And I’ve been asked about this by various other interviewers in various forms and interviews past. And I often respond with the question for the questioner how many children did Scarlett O’Hara have?
George: I mean, in Margaret Mitchell’s novel, she has three and the classic MGM movie from 1939 or so, she has one. Which is real? How many children should she have, which should you believe?
Ashaya: Depends on what canon we’re talking about.
George: Movie or the book. And of course it’s a trick question because the real answer is she had none because she never existed. She’s a fictional character that was made up. So she had no children.
It’s a story, there were two different ways that they chose to tell the story, the filmmakers simplified it, they didn’t want to deal with the children of her first two husbands, and they took them out. And as far as I can tell, very few people have missed them. Although I’m not a big part of the Gone with the Wind fandom, who knows, they may be debating it over there.
Ashaya: They probably are.
George: If there is a Gone with the Wind fandom, there probably has to be, it’s still a very popular book and movie. So this is somewhat the same question that I deal with. I wrote the books, I presented the story, at least for the first five books. And as we got into it, David and Dan did an amazingly faithful adaption in many ways, but not 100% faithful adaption.
They started making changes even as early as season one . And I remember I had discussions with them back in season one. When I was more involved in the process, when we’d discuss things and the fact that they removed Jeyne Poole was a very early thing.
They actually said, oh no, Jeyne Poole is in it. You see the girl that’s sitting next to Sansa in the one scene in the feast at Winterfell. Yes, that’s Jeyne Poole, but you never hear a name and she’s not in it, but I did tell them. ‘Yes, but there’s the butterfly effect’, as I called it, deriving from the famous Ray Bradbury story, A Sound of Thunder, crush a butterfly the Jurassic and suddenly you changed all of human history from that point forward.
Unintentionally. A little change in a long narrative can have big changes further on. And now, Gone with the Wind didn’t have to worry about that, cause those two children that they removed never had any impact on the story. And Margaret Mitchell didn’t go on to write 6 more novels in which the children grew up and became the leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Whatever the hell, you know, she might have done with those two boys.
And I think they were both boys, and Rhett’s daughter was a girl. So she didn’t have to deal with the butterfly effect there. You know, when we remove Jeyne Poole from season one, then you don’t have Jeyne Poole to be the fake Arya, as happens in the book. So what do you do then? The butterfly effect has done that.
Ashaya: You’re familiar with The Expanse. I think one of the best adaptations, an example would be The Expanse TV show where they had the writers in the writers’ room. And I remember I was reading the books as the show aired, and there was some things that happened in season one where I was like, that’s not in the books. And then I got to book five and…
Ashaya: They were adapting things all the way there. And I think it really showed how much having the author there to be like, ‘actually this is gonna be important in a book I haven’t even published yet. So like… maybe keep that in.’ can be really important.
George: And Ty and Daniel… Ty was my assistant for years and was part of so many premieres and events and things like I went to and he even went to Morocco with me.
Ashaya: Oh, fun.
George: To watch them shoot Dany’s wedding and various other things. So he knew the process from the inside and Daniel lives here in New Mexico.
And was his teacher at a session of Clarion West, and was in a writers group with him and all that, so I, I knew them pretty well. And I think they were very wise to go into the writers room and do that, cause I know from stories they’ve told me that they encountered butterfly effect too.
They would be in the writer’s room and the showrunner, who was not them, initially, would say, we’re gonna remove this person. And you know, Ty or Daniel would say, we could do that. But then when you get to season four, there’s gonna be a problem because you took that other thing.
The butterfly effect can have that, but getting back to the whole issue of canon, the butterfly effect affects the canon. But there’s also sometimes deliberate changes in a show where the showrunners or the writers or the studio, the network, or wherever it comes from, goes in a different direction. So what we’re doing at this point in the history of A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones, Westeros, whatever you wanna call it.
Yeah. We have two canons. We have the show canon, the Game of Thrones canon. And we have the Song of Ice and Fire canon. And in the book canon, obviously, still writing The Winds of Winter, I’m sure you all know that, and then there’s another book beyond that. And as I write them, and I’ve said this in a previous blog post, I always knew that things were gonna be different, but as I’m writing, as the stories are coming alive, and the characters are coming alive, taking me further and further away from the show.
So there’s gonna be some very considerable differences, and the book canon is gonna be quite different from the show canon as we get deeper into it.
Ashaya: If they cut so many characters, how could it not be different on that alone?
George: Yes. I’m still writing about Victarion Greyjoy and Arianne Martell.
Ashaya: That’s my love. I love Arianne the best. So I was devastated when they cut her. I thought she was perfect for HBO, it’s shocking.
George: I like Arianne too. And there are a number of other characters in there, Damphair, and even some of the characters who are in both are very different.
Their version of Euron Greyjoy is day and night from my version of Euron Greyjoy and similar changes. There are two different canons. Now, because most of these shows that we’re developing, almost all of them are prequels. I think it’s a single canon. Because all of these prequels can lead up to Game of Thrones at the beginning. The one that’s a little trickier is the Jon Snow show, cause that’s the only sequel. That being said, it’s a little tricky. It keeps me busy and I don’t know what’s gonna come, but we do have, as I say, a number of different shows in development, every one has a different showrunner. But every one also has me in some capacity and some other people that I work with… One of them, Ti Mikkel…
Ashaya: Yes! We love Ti.
George: She is… I think Ti knows more about Westeros than I do sometimes.
Ashaya: She knows her stuff.
George: She has an amazing grasp of it. And she’s been a consultant on many of these shows in development. But what I wanna avoid, and I don’t know how many shows are gonna go, hopefully more than one. But, as I said, we have the book canon and we have the show canon. What I don’t want to happen is that we have 17 show canons. Every different show runner decides to take it in a different direction. And nothing makes any sense because there’s no consistency.
Aziz: You have to have connective tissue.
Ashaya: Absolutely. Lucasfilm has their Story Group, as they call it, and it’s a set group of people who are in charge of managing, keeping things relatively consistent.
George: Who has that?
Ashaya: Lucasfilm for Star Wars, it’s called the Story Group. And it doesn’t seem to have necessarily worked out the best for them, I don’t know, but in general, they’re trying…
George: Seem to have let some inconsistencies sneak in there.
Ashaya: They have.
Aziz: The books have been better than the shows.
Ashaya: Yeah, they’ve got some good Star Wars books out there that are… but they’re trying to have a consistent cohesive universe as it were.
Aziz: They’re also doing a lot of prequels with that.
George: And they abolished the expanded universe, as I recall.
Ashaya: Yeah they did it, but only so that they could add it back in. There’s things from the original expanded universe that they’re adding back in, like they added Thrawn back in, for example. So they of just wiped the slate clean as it were.
Aziz: It was a mess, so it conflicted with itself. It kinda needed to be done, I suppose.
George: You know, the whole question here about canon. What the fans have to keep in mind, and I hate to say this, cause I don’t want sound like I’m attacking the fans. I love the fans, I’m a fan myself of many of these franchises. But we’re making this shit up. There is no real. If I go back and I write a novel about World War II or something like that, I’ll be expected to get it right.
History is what it is. But here, whether it’s Harry Potter or Star Wars or Star Trek or Lord of the Rings or my stuff, we’re making this stuff up. And then someone comes along and they want to change something or make it up differently, and usually if you’re somebody like me, you don’t like that, you like the way you did it.
Ashaya: You did it that way for a reason.
George: But it is the way the process works. And especially when you’re being adapted or when you’re… you know, I think the word canon and I haven’t looked this up, I may be completely wrong, but I think the word canon actually derived out of Sherlock Holmes fandoms, the Baker Street Irregulars, and all that.
Because Sherlock Holmes became one of the most popular characters in the world. Not only in Britain, but all around the world. He was one of… boy, I remember, at least back in the sixties and seventies, it’s probably different by now, but I remember reading an article that said in every country of the world, there are three characters that everybody knows: Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, and Superman.
Now, today that might be different. But Holmes was huge, and a lot of people started writing, you know, later… their own Sherlock Holmes stories and pastiches. When Holmes stories were still under the copyright and Arthur Conan Doyle was alive, they had to disguise them. I think it was August Derleth wrote a series of stories about a consulting detective in England called Solar Ponds.
And he was Sherlock Holmes going by a different name. You can read the Solar Ponds stories. They’re still out there. But the point is the Baker Street Irregulars, which I think was the big group for Holmes things, said, no, none of that stuff actually happened to Sherlock. None of these stories by later people. The canon… and that’s where I think the first one is: only the stuff written by Arthur Conan Doyle himself. That is the canon.
Aziz: The rest is fanfiction.
George: And everything else is just
George: Other stuff.
Ashaya: There’s what people call semi canon, fanon, headcanons. There’s a lot of varying terms. I think people get a little hung up on canon… Just, enjoy the series.
George: They do. And it’s one of these things that, how do you define the word, I’ll tell you what’s canon or not. You can’t say, no Scarlett O’Hara had three children because…
Ashaya: So I guess if I’m gonna re-ask the question, then the question would be, are some of the interpretations in House of the Dragon the true telling…? *some*, would you say?
George: Well, I was deliberately playing that in, in Blood and Fire, of course.
George: I was playing with the history, with actual history, and writing this as a fake history book. And I had a lot of fun with that and I know some readers didn’t like it, they wanted a traditional novel.
Aziz: We loved it.
Ashaya: Our listeners loved it.
George: I really went outta my way when that book was coming out to say, because I didn’t want anyone to buy it and be disappointed, cause it wasn’t like the others, I kept saying this is not a novel, this is not a novel. I even went on my website when like, the Hugo nomination was made, do not nominate this for Best Novel. You know, if you like it, I wouldn’t mind nominated for Best Related Work, which I thought was a category it fit in. Maybe it actually didn’t fit in that category, I don’t know, Hugo Awards, it can be a little obscure.
But it was not a traditional novel. It was a, I called it fake history at first. And then some of my readers said they hated that term, so I started calling it imaginary history. But it is a pseudo history of sorts, by an in world character.
A long time ago, before I dreamed of Game of Thrones or any of the books, I was writing what would’ve been my fifth novel if it had been published which was set in 1890s New York, a historical horror novel during the era, great era of yellow journalism. And I had a killer was on the loose and I had three reporters from rival newspapers chasing him. The New York Journal, which was published by William Randolph Hearst. The New York Herald, which was published by James Gordon Bennett Jr, and the New York World, which was published by Joseph Pulitzer. Had a lot of fun with that. I wrote 200 pages of it, but yeah, that’s another whole long story.
Ashaya: That never went anywhere, huh?
George: Never could sell it. But,
Ashaya: so you still have it, just sitting in the archives?
George: Yeah, it actually was published, the 200 page fragment was published in a book called Quartet that I did years ago when I was guest of honor at Boskone. The point of the story is Pulitzer’s newspaper, the New York World, was very successful and he built a building for it on Publishers Row in New York City, where a lot of the newspapers were on like, the same block.
And he built this building, it had a golden dome on the top. And at the time it was built, it was the tallest building in the world, the tallest building in New York City and the tallest building in the world. It was funny, it was built right next to the headquarters of the New York Sun, which was a paper edited by a guy named Charles Dana, who was a kind of a curmudgeon and didn’t like Pulitzer much.
And so they had a rivalry, but the World was much bigger than the Sun. So it said, well, Pulitzer can spit down on the Sun. But anyway, I’m researching the book and this is the tallest building in the world. Now it doesn’t exist anymore. Many years later, it was knocked down to build an approach for the Brooklyn Bridge.
And I’m reading how many stories did it have? And I’m reading these resources. Oh, it had, don’t remember the numbers. It had 15 stories. Now, wait a minute. This other book, 14. 14, 15. And then I encountered one book that had 20 stories. What??? What?? It’s the most famous building in the world at the time. And I can’t even find a reputable source as to how many floors it had and this is only like, 1880s, 1890s, 1900s, this is not 2000 years ago. That really impressed on me… that history… I love history, but it’s so unreliable to know what actually happened. History, what I love about history is it’s full of stories. It’s full of great stories and you can take them and change ’em around and use them. They’re all grist for the mill, but there’s a lot of doubt about some of the best stories.
They may have been invented later by singers or storytellers or some historian who wanted to make a point or, color it one way or the other.
George: And the more you read about history, the more inconsistencies you had. So I thought it would be fun to do that in Fire and Blood. And so when I’m relating what happened here, and I’m thinking about what can happen.
Yeah, I… oh, this would be great. This would be really outrageous, it would be… and then, eh, it’s probably too outrageous. Here’s probably what… the more realistic version of it. And wait a minute, this version makes Fred the villain and Bill the hero. And this version makes Bill a villain and Fred the hero.
And then at some point it hit me. Why don’t I give all versions? Cause history is uncertain. I’ll give all versions and it’ll be fun for me. I can put in all the really outlandish scurilous things, the way Mushroom sees it, but I can also put in the things that are probably more…
Aziz: They’re sources, yeah.
George: And that worked fine for those who liked that thing, although some don’t. But if I was writing it as a novel, if I’d been writing this in the form of the books in A Song of Ice and Fire, like Winds of Winter, which I’m writing now. When I get to a chapter in The Winds of Winter and I know something’s gonna happen. How does it happen?
What are the things? I think I could do it this way. I could do it that way. I have to make up up my mind. In Fire and Blood, I didn’t have to have to make up my mind, but Ryan and Miguel, when they’re adapting it, they largely had to make up their mind.
We did have some… way back in the beginning, way, way back in the beginning.
Actually there were previous writers on it before Ryan, but there were some interesting discussions about how we could present the material in Fire and Blood. And, you could do it the Rashomon way, if you know that reference.
Ashaya: Yeah, absolutely.
George: Present multiple versions of the same story.
We could also have done a frame device where we could have included Archmaester Gyldayn and just like in I, Claudius, one of my favorite TV shows. Every episode is framed by Claudius writing his history and then you flash back to what he wrote, but we could have had Archmaester Gyldayn, with all of his primary sources, doddering around. ‘Well! And no, but there’s this other version!’ and you could’ve done that.
Ashaya: It would’ve been real fun.
George: It would’ve, but sadly, nobody really wants to do the framing device anymore with Claudius.
Ashaya: Yeah, Last Duel did it, recently, a little bit of that.
George: They did, yes. That was an interesting take on that, I like that movie. I’m not sure the world did though.
Aziz: It didn’t do that well. It was COVID, you know, the timing of its release was not ideal.
Ashaya: So we were talking about how working on Fire and Blood is history and it’s very different to write. One thing that we like to highlight in our show is something called Parallel Lives, which is the idea that there are parallels in your histories to current characters.
George: You stole that from Plutarch, didn’t you?
Ashaya: Yes. Yes, exactly.
Aziz: Absolutely. I read those all when I was a lot younger, fell in love with them, so good catch. I love to apply it to A Song of Ice and Fire.
Ashaya: So we’ve observed it in A Song of Ice and Fire. Have you found that in like writing Fire and Blood, that it allows you to maybe play with plotlines or arcs for the characters in the main series? Do you do that consciously?
George: No, I don’t.
Ashaya: You don’t!
George: It’s not consciously.
George: Certain similarities are inevitable.
Aziz: That’s for sure.
George: If anything, I try to veer away from that, cuz I don’t wanna feel like I’m repeating myself.
Ashaya: But history just naturally repeats itself, so…
George: Yes, there are certain resonances in history, there are certain universals about humanity, people competing for power, people competing for love, lust. All of these things…
Aziz: Some of these things are a constant.
Ashaya: Sometimes people are like, that’s a stereotype or that’s cliche, and I’m like that’s because it’s true to the human experience, it’s just true.
Aziz: A person with a lot of power being paranoid? That happens a lot. That also applies a lot to real world history, or to homages. What about when you’re writing in an homage? For example, one of my favorites you’ve included in the Nightfort scene with Bran, there seems to be a lot of homages to Tolkien and the Mines of Moria in that scene, which I love a lot. Do you aim to do that or is that also accidental or maybe you have some thoughts on your process there?
George: I love Tolkien, and actually the Mines of Moria is one of my favorite sections of Fellowship of the Ring. And that’s my favorite of the trilogy, Fellowship.
Not that I don’t love them all. I don’t think I was consciously trying to do that, but again, you don’t know. You read these things and they lodge sometimes in the front of your brain, but sometimes in weird corners of your brain where they pop up at some point. I did wanna make the Nightfort a sinister place, with its own legends.
It was very old, it’s a very big castle crumbling. And I wanted to give it that sense that so many things have gone here. Now, which are true and which are not true? I always tend to look at not only other fantasy books and history, but like the real world here.
Get me in trouble here for what I’m about to say, but we have these legends that some people believe are literally true in our religion. We talk about the Garden of Eden. Was there ever actually a Garden of Eden? Was there Adam and Eve or the flood? Noah and the flood.
That’s a good one. That’s a great story. God was pissed off, he made it rain for 40 days and 40 nights. The entire world was flooded and everybody died, except for this guy Noah, who built a big boat and he got two of every animal on earth. I don’t know how the kangaroos got from down in Australia to the Middle East, but they did.
Aziz: Even the mosquitoes.
George: Even the mosquitoes. He had two of everything and it’s a terrific story. Ricky Gervais has a very funny bit where he makes fun of it in one of his things, but it’s a story. It’s a colorful story. And of course there have been some archaeologists in recent years who have said it could be that, at a certain place in 2000 BC, the Tigris and Euphrates flooded. And the land between them, not the entire world, but the Tigris and the Euphrates.
And then there was a flood and maybe the archaeology… so these things sometimes have a source. But that’s not the same, as the story is bigger and more colorful, as stories tend to be. I mean, if I’m picking on something for history, to adapt to it, as I’ve often said in interviews, I turn it up to 11 or I turn it up to 111.
Cause you don’t ever wanna make it smaller. I’m gonna do a story that’ll be just like the Crusades, but I’ll make it smaller and duller. No, you have to make it bigger and cooler. Otherwise…
Aziz: Just read the Crusades.
George: Just read the historical fiction about the actual Crusades, or the Wars of the Roses, or the Anarchy, any of these things.
Aziz: Do you have any authors or sources that you’ve read that were like non-fiction accounts of those…? I think you recommended Sharon Kay Penman many years ago in your blog and I’ve read everything she wrote after you recommended it.
George: And she wrote a great book about the Anarchy, When Christ and His Saints Slept.
Aziz: That’s beautiful.
George: Stephen and Matilda. Yes. Terrific book. Another author that had a lot of influence was Thomas B Costain. Now he was a very popular author.
Ashaya: Did you name Elinor Costayne, House Costayne, after him? Is that a reference on purpose, or slipped in there?
George: Did I? Could be, at this point, I’ve lost track, but he was a very popular historical fiction writer of the fifties, maybe even the forties, and mostly he wrote novels.
Some of which were made into movies. I think it was the Silver Chalice was based on one of his books.
George: And there were a couple others too, but he also wrote a nonfiction history of the Plantagenets, a four volume history of the Plantagenets. From where the Plantagenets originated and how they became the kings and it’s a generational thing.
So it’s quite like Fire and Blood, he’s writing about Henry the Second, and then Henry the Second dies and you get Richard and Richard dies and you get John, and, generation after generation, all the way to the Wars of the Roses, which was the ultimate end of the Plantagenet dynasty.
He doesn’t go on to the Tudors, and it was really readable. It’s full of great stories. Stories, and how good it is as history, I don’t know. Probably not great history, but a great read.
And I don’t have to worry since I’m not a professional historian, I’m writing fantasy, about getting the history wrong or something like that. I just have to worry about telling a great story. And history is full of great stories. That’s not to say that some of ’em can’t be improved and made even greater by being turned up to 111.
Aziz: What about the series the Accursed Kings, that’s an influence on you, right?
George: Yes, that definitely. That was Maurice Druon, a French writer. Very serious French writer in most regards. He was made a part of the French Academy, which guards the French language against like incursions from English and other things, they don’t like that.
But Accursed Kings was his popular series of books. And they were also great too. It’s about the curse of the Templars and the fall of Philip the Fair, and his three sons and how the Capetian dynasty ended, and the Valois came in and the Hundred Years War.
So it’s again, great characters, great story.
Aziz: Yeah. Baby swaps, poisonings, all that good stuff. Yeah. Big fan. Yes. What do you have?
Ashaya: Let’s ask about radio serials.
Aziz: Oh yeah. Did you listen to radio serials when you were younger?
Ashaya: Was that a thing for you?
George: I’ve heard a few of them, but not a lot. No, I was a little too young for that. Radio was largely over by the time I was a kid and had a radio. I did listen to sometimes late at night uh, I would listen to radio talk shows.
There was one guy, I was born in New Jersey, Long John Nebel. He had this show on and it came on at like midnight or something, so I would listen to it in bed. And he frequently had science fiction writers on there. Frederick Cole, Lester del Rey. Some of the other writers, Theodore Sturgeon, I think, were guests on his shows and they’d discuss outlandish things in the middle of the night. But I liked that show. But over the years, a few people have made an effort to bring back radio drama. Yeah. But I don’t think any of those efforts have ever really succeeded.
Aziz: Not on radio. I think that that’s coming back in podcast and audiobook form. There’s a lot more versions that have sound effects and voice actors. And that’s part of why we asked, because we thought that maybe one day that would be something that could be done with A Song of Ice and Fire, because it would be an audio version that’s unabridged, but it would add some battle sounds and acting and things like that.
George: Well, we do have audio books.
Aziz: Unfortunately with Roy Dotrice’s passing, it wouldn’t be a complete cohesive thing. Yeah.
George: But Roy was amazing. I worked with him on Beauty and the Beast and the thing about Roy was he was an actor. And there are a lot of audio books out there and there are people who make their entire career as reading audio books.
And some of ’em are really good, but they’re readers. They’re readers. Roy came into it, not reading the book, but acting the book. Giving every character his own voice. And it’s a little strange at times, cuz of course I can easily write so and so said this in a Dornish accent.
There’s no Dornish accent. So Roy would have to make it up and say I will make that a Spanish accent, something like that. I’ll make this guy speak Welsh and all that. And Roy was a master of accents and all that, but I don’t know when he started that, but he was as old as I am now when he started doing that.
And so he’s doing women, he’s doing eight year old boys. It’s a challenge, but he did an amazing job for it.
Aziz: He really did. I’ve listened to those audio books, if they were taped, I would’ve worn them out. Yeah, he is phenomenal. I’ve listened to a lot of other audio books and there’s just… the voice acting is… the acting aspect is, I’ve never run into anyone who has done it like that.
George: There’s nobody quite like Roy, but we have some very good audio book readers. Harry Lloyd read some and Iain Glen, you know, some of the Dunk and Egg stories, and then Fire and Blood and stuff. So yeah, we’ve had some good readers.
Ashaya: Yes. I would, I would love it if you could get two readers. I just, I really think the series… like there’s so many characters, I think having a woman and a man’s voice would do so much for my enjoyment, because it’s hard to hear a man do a child’s voice.
George: Have you listened to the Wild Cards audio books?
Ashaya: No, I haven’t. Do you do that for that? Maybe I’ll have to check that out.
George: We, we have, yes.
Ashaya: That makes sense.
George: There are many Wild Cards books. I think only eight of them, maybe nine of ’em exist on audio books. Now the first two were done for one company, Brilliance, I think. And they were done with a reader. So one guy reads, but if you know the Wild Cards books, if you read them, they’re mosaic novels. Where there are many different viewpoint characters intercutting, either in separate stories or sometimes fully intercut in the same narrative. When we got to the third book, I believe it was, we, for complicated reasons I won’t get into, we switched to a different company and we wound up with Random House Audio. And I was able to persuade them to have a different reader for each story.
Ashaya: Very cool. Very cool.
George RR Martin: Now there’s still issues there because even though let us say the story, the protagonist of the story may be Water Lily, and so we got for Water Lily, we got a woman. We got my friend Lina Esco, who’s been in SWAT and some other things, and she read Water Lily’s story, but in Water Lily’s story, there are other characters who appear.
So she was still reading and there were scenes where Hiram Worchester appears or Yeoman or so many other people, and that’s true in everything, but we did have a separate reader for each character, I think from volume three up to like volume eight or so. And then for complex reasons we stopped, but we’re about to resume again, I think, so…
Ashaya: Oh, exciting.
George: We will have more of those. Yeah. But if you get too many readers, then there’s legal issues. Is this an audio book or is this a radio dramatization? And I have the right to do an audio book. I don’t have the right to do a radio dramatization.
George: You know, then those complex things come up here.
Ashaya: That makes a lot of sense. I wouldn’t have thought about the difference in how it’s defined and how that affects your rights, but of course it would.
George: And if you start adding sound effects or things like that, then you’re right over the edge into radio.
Ashaya: And so then HBO’s hello, this is a little bit too close to Game of Thrones. Interesting.
George: It’s interesting too. I’m just speculating here. I don’t wanna seem like an expert, but I know The Rings of Power is coming out, the Tolkien thing. But there’s also something called the Ride of the Rohirrim that’s coming out, that is done by entirely different people.
Ashaya: Yeah. They didn’t get all the rights.
George: And it’s, what is it, animated?
Aziz: It’s a little odd. Yeah. I’m not clear on that.
Ashaya: I think so. Yeah. I believe so.
Aziz: But yeah, that’s a strange situation. The way those rights got portioned out. It’s yeah, not typical, but…
George: Tolkien was probably the greatest fantasist of all time, but he was an innocent babe in the woods at dealing with Hollywood and these things.
If you look at the original animated things long before Peter Jackson, he sold the first two books to… it was Ralph Bakshi, I think who did Fellowship of the Ring and the Two Towers, but it was… who was it? Hanna Barbera or somebody like that?
Aziz: Was it them that did the third?
George: The third one… Or they also did the Hobbit. So the Hobbit and the Return of the King are done by one animator and the first two were done by a different one. How did he manage to separate those? Who the hell was representing him? It was a different world back then.
Ashaya: We should maybe ask about games now.
Ashaya: There are a lot of games based on A Song of Ice and Fire, many games. There’s both official ones and unofficial ones.
George: I don’t wanna know about the unofficial ones.
Ashaya: Oh, we were curious if you had heard about these unofficial ones or not. And we were curious as well, if any of them were particularly interesting for you to see realized, cause there’s the board game, the card game, the tabletop game, the video games.
George: Well, so many of those are official. They’re things where I sold the rights. Dark Sword which works with CMON doing the miniatures. I have some of the miniatures.
Aziz: I used to work for the owner of CMON.
George: And they’re doing the tabletop miniatures game and all that, but then I had Fantasy Flight was doing a card game and still are, and various people have done the board games.
That actually became somewhat of an issue way back when.
The first book came out in 1996 and the second book came out in 1999. And the third book came out in 2000. And by that time, the books were very popular. Each one was more popular than the others. I was hitting the bestseller list.
So I had various people approaching me with offers for subsidiary rights as they were called. And I like games. I loved miniatures. That idea was thrilling. You could see my collection here all around.
Ashaya: Yeah, we sure can.
George: My toy knights and miniatures, and, my agent got involved and we negotiated deals and we signed some of these. Replica swords.
With Jalic Incorporated… Valyrian Steel, as they call themselves Dark Sword with the miniatures the coins, which are done by the Shire Post Mint.
Ashaya: We love those.
Aziz: We have a big collection.
George RR Martin: I made all these deals and a couple of others, besides. I won’t go into any of it. You go forward to now 2007, 2008, I’ve turned down like half a dozen people who wanted to make movies of these, right.
And I meet David and Dan on a legendary lunch at The Palm in Los Angeles that turns into dinner, cause we’re talking for hours and I say, okay you seem good guys to work with here. Go ahead and see if you can sell to HBO. I was out of TV by then for so long. Yes, I’d been very active in TV for 10 years, roughly up to the mid nineties.
This was like 2007. It was like 12 years I’d been largely out of TV. They weren’t going to let me run the show or be the showrunner, or even do that. It was like, oh, your guy worked in TV back in the Stone Age. But Dave and Dan were hot writers and I thought HBO was the place for it. We all agreed on that.
So they sold it HBO, but then we started to try to negotiate the deal with HBO. And my agents took charge, money, rights, title, all that stuff. Those negotiations are always fine and all that went fine, but suddenly we hit a bump on the subsidiary rights, and HBO was saying we get all the subsidiary rights.
And I said I can’t give you all the subsidiary rights cuz I have these like eight contracts here. This guy has miniature rights and this guy has replica sword rights. And then this company has card games. I can’t give you those, cause I already… And they were actually puzzled by that thread. Their legal department’s saying, no wait, we always get all subsidiaries. We have all the subsidiary rights to the Sopranos, we have all the subsidiary rights to all of our shows, and I said, I understand that, but I can’t give you rights that I no longer own because I’ve sold it to these other people. We finally got that through to them and, and we got the deal that cut out those rights.
Although it does have, clauses in that, that only so long as those things are active do they keep the rights. If Valyrian Steel, for example, ever stops making swords, after a certain point, those rights go to HBO. And the Valyrian Steel guy is actually very smart. Cuz the first thing he did was make a deal with HBO.
That’s why there are two versions, and you can see them around my house. It’s canon, you know, he makes the show sword and the book sword. I think you’re sitting in front of the book version of Needle. Oh, right there.
Ashaya: Oh I am! Oh, I better watch out.
Aziz: It’s sharp.
George: And the show version of Needle is somewhat different.
Ashaya: So let’s see, we have some listener submitted questions. We would like to get into some personal questions.
Aziz: I’ve got a quick one here. Maybe this is… this might be very quick. Or maybe it won’t be. A world building question. Would you say that folks in your world of A Song of Ice and Fire, do individuals have, or believe in the soul? The concept of it? Or would you say that it actually exists there? Or is that maybe too meta.
George: Yes. I don’t think I’ve ever used that word, but…
Aziz: No, you haven’t, you… like shade or ghost… shade, shadows, ghost…
George: But I think it depends on what religion you follow. A number of ’em certainly believe in some sort of afterlife. The worshippers of the Old Gods believe that your spirit goes into the weirwood trees or if you’re a warg, you get the second life where you get to live as a hawk or a wolf or a bear or something. But eventually all the souls, if you will, or the spirits go to the same place. But the Ironborn will think you’re having a big party with the Drowned God under the sea, in his sort of wet Valhalla.
Aziz: Wet Valhalla!
George: And the Faith of the Seven believes in seven hells and seven heavens and all of that stuff. So there is some belief in the afterlife. Yeah. But as more and more religions come into the world, as I expand it, probably see more and more different systems.
Ashaya: Let’s ask about a couple questions about Valyrians that I have here… did Valyrians from non dragon riding families practice incest as well? And did Valyrians other than Targaryens have dragon dreams, if you can answer either of those?
George: No, I don’t think they particularly would. I haven’t really thought about that.
Ashaya: Okay. Fair enough.
George: I reserve my right to change my mind, but no, I don’t think. There was a specific reason for the incest which was to uh, you know, I mean, obviously they don’t have… these are medieval people and ancient people.
They don’t know about DNA or genes or any of that stuff, but they have some rough concept of it in which they attribute to the blood. This guy has blue eyes and his children have blue eyes, but if he marries someone with brown eyes, now all the kids have brown eyes, why is that?
They have some things, so… we can control dragons, we don’t wanna lose that ability, not everybody can do that. So we better keep it in the family, so to speak, or at least with the other dragon riding families. Now there was, I haven’t gone much into it, but there was another very powerful group in Valyria who were not necessarily the dragon riders. And those were the people who practiced blood magic. And which, you know, there’s some overlap in the Venn diagram with the dragon riders, but not necessarily complete overlap. And then there were just the regular people. There were a lot of slaves cuz it was a slave society. There were a lot of poor people. I think of ancient Rome or something like that. I don’t know that they would have any reason to to practice incest.
Aziz: Okay. Okay. But you said with the… but the people who work blood magic, they wouldn’t necessarily have to…
George: They might, too, it depends on how they define their magic.
Ashaya: Okay. What about the dragon dreams?
George: And I know here I’m an outlier, cuz I think most of fantasy writers, contemporary fantasy writers would disagree with me, but I never wanted to devise a magic system, as it’s called. A lot of fantasy writers, you know, are very proud of their magic systems they devised.
To my mind, magic and sorcery, it’s not part of the natural world. It’s supernatural, it’s unnatural, it’s dangerous. And if you make it so systematic that, okay, if you take the eyes of a newt and the balls of a bat and the blood of a virgin and mixed them together you’ll get…
George RR Martin: A love potion. Then you’ve just, you’ve taken the magic out of magic and you’ve made it science, but you’ve made it fake science that doesn’t really work. And I’m not interested in that. I think you look at the history of magic in the real world. Magic. And for most human history, people believed that there was magic, there was sorcery. They believed there were dragons, they believed there were witches. But did their magic actually work?
If their magic actually worked, then they would’ve ruled the world. But their magic works sometimes, if suddenly you got a bad case of boils, you would blame the old woman down the road that gave you the boils, for you didn’t like her. And then if you could convince people, they might hang her or set her on fire.
But she couldn’t give boils to everyone or she would do that. It was… magic was unreliable, it was dangerous. And I think that’s also true of dragons and blood magic and… everything magical and sorcerous that goes on in my world, it’s not easy. You’re evoking things that maybe you shouldn’t mess with.
Aziz: So there would’ve been some accidents, presumably.
George: And yes. And there have been. For example, Doom of Valyria.
Aziz: That went wrong, you could say… very wrong.
George: Something went wrong.
Ashaya: Although there are theories about it being a little less accidental and a little more deliberate on the Faceless Men’s part, but we won’t make you say anything on the record, but there are theories about it.
Aziz: There are indeed theories.
Ashaya: There are theories about everything you’ve written. Theories upon theories.
George: That’s good. I like people arguing about it and having theories about it, yeah, all of that stuff. Yes.
Ashaya: Yeah. We wanted to tell you some of the like fandom adjacent terms. You’ve dubbed some of them in world, like for example, you created the Red Wedding and called it such in the world, but then fans came up with the term, the Purple Wedding for Joffrey’s wedding or the Pink Letter for the Pink Letter, which you probably know what we’re referring to.
George: Yes, I do. Although those terms do not appear in the book.
Ashaya: Yeah, they don’t.
George: I have a Golden Wedding that…
Aziz: That was a good one. And there’s there’s some other fun ones.
Ashaya: Like people, I hate when people use the term Faegon, because it’s very spoilery and not necessarily accurate. I just call ’em Young Griff, but that is a term that people use.
Aziz: Yeah. Shortened version of fake Aegon – had you heard that term before?
George: Yes, I have.
And it does indicate that they have already made their decision.
Aziz: They’ve taken Tyrion’s hint, like yeah, I dunno about this.
Ashaya: I’m like, I’ll just call him Young Griff because lots of people have not gotten to that point in the series yet, so let’s let them, yeah…
George: And that’s a huge, getting back to your question of canon, that’s a huge canon difference. He does not exist in the tv show, he exists in a big way in the books. But not the tv show.
Ashaya: So I wanted to talk about a couple personal things as well. You have told us in the past, and we were, it was very random. We were at a lunch with you and you mentioned a cat that you had named Asha and how she was a killer. And I’ve just been dying to know ever since, what’re the other names of your pets? It’s a silly question, but I would like to know, everyone would like to know.
George: Sadly, Asha is gone. But she was a great cat. Yeah, we don’t have many cats named from my books.
Ashaya: Names period, I’d like to know all of them.
George: We had at a certain period, my wife, Parris and I, Parris is of Irish descent, among other things.
She likes Irish history and I’m also partly Irish, but not quite as much as she was, but at a certain point… I mentioned I, Claudius that I loved. So we had a cat named Augustus. And we had a cat named Caligula, which of course is Roman for Little Boots.
Parris, Parris is not as big a fan of Rome as I am and refused to call him Caligula, she always called him Boots. But Augustus and Caligula, sadly, are both gone. Although, Sid, my assistant who’s been coming and going… without any inspiration from me, completely independently, she has a cat named Caligula. And a cat named Claudius. And that was where I was going.
I wanted to name our next cat Claudius, I wanted to name a cat Messalina, for his wife. Parris threw down the gauntlet, said no, you’ve had your Romans, now it’s my turn to name the cats. We had some Irish cats there, and we still have one, Gráinne. Named after the famous female pirate of the Irish Sea.
George: And we had a couple Irish named cats too.
Ashaya: Very cool. I’ve got a question about Parris. Specifically at a convention years ago, you told a story about your first real meeting with Parris in the sauna.
George: Yes I did.
Ashaya: At the 1975 Kublakhan. And the thing that got me is that Paris had a very funny quip that I have not been able to remember. I have not been able to find online. What did Parris say when she saw you in that women’s sauna? Do you remember?
George: I do. She did a, I’m not sure you… you were young creatures, but do you know who WC Fields is? He had a particular way of speaking. She came in and she did a WC Fields voice where she said, you know, ‘pros’ in science fiction fandom, ‘pros’ is the name for professional writers.
You go to conventions, there are fans and pros. And there were not just me in that sauna, but there were a number of other people, including Joe Haldeman, I think, and a few others. And she came in and saw us, and she said, ‘ahhhhh, naked pros’ in her best WC Fields voice.
Ashaya: Thank you. It’s been driving me crazy for years. I’ve been like… Parris had this really clever thing she said, and I couldn’t remember it. I found the story, but not that.
George RR Martin: I don’t know, now this was 1975, and Parris and I have told that story…
Aziz: We heard it in Dublin.
George: Many times over the years, but I’m getting, you know, I mean, science fiction fandom is changing and all this… I think if that happened today, they would call the police. We’d be arrested, banned from conventions and…
Ashaya: You just gotta go to small conventions.
George: In those days, there were a lot of people fooling around at conventions. They were… half of the conventions I went to, the fans would go skinny dipping in the hotel pool. Yeah, Sid wants to go back to those days. Right?
Ashaya: We’re happy to tell you that there’s definitely still wild convention times. We go to some small conventions that are like 300 people where that is alive and well. We go to one called Ice and Fire Con that is dedicated to your series. It’s only 300 people, there’s been a lot of love matches there. There’s like a few marriages that have been made there… a few hookups. Yeah, it lives on…
Aziz: Just this last year, they did…
George: There’s probably no skinny dipping in the hotel pool.
Ashaya: I won’t say that on the record.
Aziz: There is a hotel pool, but what happens in it, that stays at Ice and Fire Con.
Ashaya: Yeah. What happens at Ice and Fire Con, stays at Ice & Fire Con.
Aziz: Quick anecdote about something that happened there last year, there was… they host a tournament and a melee every year where people use foam noodles to fight with and joust with, the swords are plastic. It’s highly entertaining, but at the end of it, a fan dueled another fan, like a quick melee duel, called him out. When he won, he declared he was naming a queen of love and beauty and proceeded to propose to this woman. And her parents were hiding behind and she… and they all appeared and it was a really wonderful moment.
She, of course she said yes. And it was great. And she’s an artist that has gone fully professional, mostly just creating art in your world. So that’s a very good story.
George: I have to tell a story there too. I don’t know. I hope these people aren’t still in the fandom, I don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings, but in the early days, probably 2002, 2003. It was 2001, I think, the Brotherhood Without Banners first started having parties. 2001. This was a couple years later, but still early in the history. And one of the fans came up me with a copy of the latest book, and said he wanted to propose to this girl in the group. So he wanted me to write in a book instead of just, best wishes or keep your sword sharp or something.
He wanted to write, I don’t remember what her name was. Dear Nymeria… Will you marry Aegon? I’m using names, but it wasn’t that, it was the real names, it was Susie and Fred or something. Yeah. He wanted me to write, will you marry me? And I said, I can’t write, will you marry me and give her the book.
She’ll think that I’m proposing to her. I’m not proposing to her, but if you want, I will write Dear Nymeria, will you marry Aegon, or something like that. Oh, okay. Yeah. So I wrote that in the book and then there’s a big party. There’s a, you know, we’re crowded in the suite and he gave her the book and she opened it and… sad to say…
He did not get the response he wanted. She looked at it and said, “are you out of your fucking mind?”
Ashaya: That’s hilarious though, I’m gonna have to ask around in the BWB and find out who that was.
George: When someone proposes in front of 70,000 fans… will you marry Joe? You know, what happens when she says no? It would be so traumatic. I dunno if that guy ever went out again, or what happened to that particular book? Is it still sitting on her shelf?
Aziz: I want the book back.
George: It was a hardcover. Sid is looking at us sternly. I think we have to end this.
Ashaya: Yeah, gotta end it. I wanna say one more thing before we… one, I wanna say, thank you. Two, I promised some other friends that I would mention that, also at Ice and Fire Con, they’ve done two musicals based on your series. One, Westeros: An American Musical, which is based on Hamilton. And one is called Queens, which is based on, I don’t know if you’ve heard of Six: the Musical, it’s about the six wives of Henry the Eighth.
Ashaya: And so, you would enjoy that musical for one. But I just wanted to mention that you have inspired people to song.
George: A whole musical? A musical?
Aziz: A full musical with dancing.
Ashaya: They’re on YouTube as well. Yeah. But yeah, it’s a full… and they’re adapting A Song of Ice and Fire, not Game of Thrones, very deliberately. And so yeah, that exists as a loving tribute to your works. And thank you so much for…
George: No, sounds fun. I didn’t know about this convention. HBO is gonna do an official convention.
Ashaya: Yes, they are doing one in December. We’re probably going to be going. But yeah, there are… there’s two fan conventions based on your works, there’s Ice and Fire Con, which is small, 300 person…
George: and Titancon.
Ashaya: And Titancon and I guess there’s three, because there’s also Con of Thrones, which is obviously dedicated to HBO’s Game of Thrones more specifically. So yeah, you’ve you’ve birthed a lot of stuff, a lot of fandom.
Aziz: There’s a whole cottage industry around your works, and a you know, full size industry.
Ashaya: Thanks Sid, as well.
George: Well, this was fun, thank you guys.
Aziz: Thank you.
Ashaya: Thank YOU, really.