Not a Blog

A Winter Garden

July 8, 2022

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I have done a lot of interviews over the years, more than even I can possibly keep track of.   Inevitably, a lot of them touch on the same subjects.   One of the things I have been asked about most is my writing process.   If you have seen any of those interviews, you have probably heard me talking about the two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners.   I have given that same spiel numerous times.  Here’s one of the most thorough explanations:

Another question that I get a lot, especially since the end of GAME OF THRONES on HBO, is whether A SONG OF ICE & FIRE, will end the same way.  An architect would be able to give a short, concise, simple answer to that, but I am much more of a gardener.   My stories grow and evolve and change as I write them.  I generally know where I am going, sure… the final destinations, the big set pieces, they have been my head for years… for decades, in the case of A SONG OF ICE & FIRE.   There are lots of devils in the details, though, and sometimes the ground changes under my feet as the words pour forth.

(Another question fans and interviewers alike ask a lot if “Where do you get your ideas?”   Honestly, I wish I knew.   When confronted with the same question, Harlan Ellison used to say, “Schenectady.”   The ancient Greeks spoke of the muses.   Freud talked of the conscious and subconscious minds, the id, the ego, the superego.  More recently, we hear about the right brain and the left brain, one analytic and rational, the other imaginative and creative.   I am pretty sure the answer is not Schenectady, but aside from that… hell, I don’t know.   Yes, there are some instances where I know the seed from which something in my garden sprang.  The Wall sprang from my visit to Hadrian’s Wall in 1981.   The Wars of the Roses inspired much of GAME OF THRONES.   The Red Wedding was a mash up of the Glencoe Massacre and the Black Dinner from Scottish history, turned up way past eleven.   But for every instance like that, there are a hundred for which I have to say, “I don’t know.   One day the thought just came to me.   It wasn’t there, and then it was.”   If that was the work of a muse, may she keep on musing).

Which brings me to THE WINDS OF WINTER.

Most of you know by now that I do not like to give detailed updates on WINDS.   I am working on it, I have been working on it, I will continue to work on it.   (Yes, I work on other things as well).   I love nothing more than to surprise my readers with twists and turns they did not see coming, and I risk losing those moments if I go into too much detail.   Spoilers, you know.   Even saying that I am working on a Tyrion chapter, as I did last week, gives away the fact that Tyrion is not dead.   Reading sample chapters at cons, or posting them on line, which I did for years, gives away even more.   I actually quite enjoyed doing that, until the day came that I realized I had read and/or posted the first couple of hundred pages of WINDS, or thereabouts.  If I had kept on with the readings, half the book might be out by now.

So I am not going to give you all any kind of detailed report on the book, but…

I will say this.

I have been at work in my winter garden.   Things are growing… and changing, as does happen with us gardeners.   Things twist, things change, new ideas come to me (thank you, muse), old ideas prove unworkable, I write, I rewrite, I restructure, I rip everything apart and rewrite again, I go through doors that lead nowhere, and doors that open on marvels.

Sounds mad, I know.   But it’s how I write.   Always has been.   Always will be.   For good or ill.

What I have noticed more and more of late, however, is my gardening is taking me further and further away from the television series.   Yes, some of the things you saw on HBO in GAME OF THRONES you will also see in THE WINDS OF WINTER (though maybe not in quite the same ways)… but much of the rest will be quite different.

And really, when you think about it, this was inevitable.   The novels are much bigger and much much more complex than the series.   Certain things that happened on HBO will not happen in the books.   And vice versa.   I have viewpoint characters in the books never seen on the show: Victarion Greyjoy, Arianne Martell, Areo Hotah, Jon Connington, Aeron Damphair   They will all have chapters, and the things they do and say will impact the story and the major characters who were on the show.   I have legions of secondary characters, not POVs but nonetheless important to the plot, who also figure in the story: Lady Stoneheart, Young Griff,  the Tattered Prince, Penny, Brown Ben Plumm, the Shavepate, Marwyn the Mage, Darkstar, Jeyne Westerling.  Some characters you saw in the show are quite different than the versions in the novels.   Yarra Greyjoy is not Asha Greyjoy, and HBO’s Euron Greyjoy is way, way, way, way different from mine.   Quaithe still has a part to play.  So does Rickon Stark.   And poor Jeyne Poole.   And… well, the list is long.    (And all this is part of why WINDS is taking so long.   This is hard, guys).

Oh, and there will be new characters as well.   No new viewpoints, I promise you that, but with all these journeys and battles and scheming to come, inevitably our major players will be encountering new people in lands far and near.

One thing I can say,  in general enough terms that I will not be spoiling anything:  not all of the characters who survived until the end of GAME OF THRONES will survive until the end of A SONG OF ICE & FIRE, and not all of the characters who died on GAME OF THRONES will die in A SONG OF ICE & FIRE.   (Some will, sure.  Of course.   Maybe most.   But definitely not all)   ((Of course, I could change my mind again next week, with the next chapter I write.   That’s gardening)).

And the ending?   You will need to wait until I get there.   Some things will be the same.   A lot will not.

No doubt, once I am done, there will be huge debate about which version of the story is better.   Some people will like my book, others will prefer the television show.   And that’s fine, you pays your money and your makes your choice.   (I do fear that a certain proportion of fans are so angry about how long WINDS has taken me that they are prepared to hate the book, unread.   That saddens me, but there nothing I can do about it, but write the best book that I can, and hope that when it comes out most fans will read it with clean hands and an open mind).

That’s all I can tell you right now.  I need to get back to the garden.   Tyrion is waiting for me.


Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

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