Not a Blog

A Winter Garden

July 8, 2022 at 10:53 am
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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

I’ve Been Parodied

December 10, 2020 at 8:22 am
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Way way back in 1969, when the world and I were young, the Harvard Lampoon did a hilarious send-up of Tolkien and LORD OF THE RINGS, called BORED OF THE RINGS.   It is still in print all these years later.   Spam and Dildo, Arrowroot son of Arrowshirt, Pepsi and Moxie… a hoot.

And now, I guess, it is my turn.

The Harvard Lampoon has turned its sights on A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE and come up with LAME OF THRONES.

Yes, they sent me a copy.

No, I have not looked at it yet.   I am working up the courage.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say… but parody is right up there, so…

Thanks.   I guess.

Current Mood: amused amused

Back to Westeros

November 8, 2020 at 9:18 am
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Sometimes I do get the feeling that most of you reading my posts here care more about what is happening in Westeros than what is happening in the United States.

So let me assure you that, when not sweating out election returns or brooding over other real world problems, I have continued to work on THE WINDS OF WINTER.

No, sorry, still not done, but I do inch closer.   It is a big big book.   I try not to dwell on that too much.    I write a chapter at a time, a page at a time, a sentence at a time, a word at a time.   It is the only way.   And sometimes I rewrite.

Of late I have been spending a lot of time with the Lannisters.  Cersei and Tyrion in particular.   I’ve also paid a visit to Dorne, and dropped in to Oldtown a time or three.   In addition to turning out new chapters, I’ve been revising some old ones (some very old)… including, yes, some stuff I read at cons ages ago, or even posted online as samples.   I tweak stuff constantly, and sometimes go beyond tweaking, moving things around, combining chapters, breaking chapters in two, reordering stuff.

None of this is even remotely new.   It is how the first five books were written.

I was really on a roll back in June and July.   Progress has continued since then, but more slowly… I suffered a gut punch in early August that really had me down for a time, and another, for different reasons, in early September.   But I slogged on, and of late I am picking up steam again.

On other fronts… well, aside from Covd-19 slowing everything down, we are making great progress on the HBO prequel HOUSE OF THE DRAGON.  Ryan and Miguel are in London, casting has begun, it is all looking very exciting.

I wish I could say that things are also going great on all the other television and film projects I am involved with, either as a producer or as the author of the original source material (i.e. novels and short stories).   I can’t.    Very little shooting is taking place, and almost nothing is being greenlit.  Of course, development continues… but there’s a reason they call it “development hell.”   Sigh.

So that’s where all that stands.   Or at least, that’s as much as I am allowed to tell you right now.

Hang in there, friends.

Current Mood: busy busy

The Anniversary of the Storm

November 4, 2020 at 9:25 am
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Hard to believe… for me at least… but A STORM OF SWORDS was published twenty years ago, in 2000.

It is now 2020 (as if we could forget), so it was time for the 20th Anniversary Edition.

I thought the Anniversary editions of A GAME OF THRONES and A CLASH OF KINGS were stunning, but this one is the best yet.   It is lavishly and gorgeously illustrated by GARY GIANNI, one of the world’s leading fantasy artists, and includes an foreword by NEIL GAIMAN as well.

We just got a huge shipment of copies in at Beastly Books in Santa Fe… and, of course, my merciless staff hunted me down in my mountain holdfast and made me sign all of them.

If you’re looking for an autographed copy of the STORM OF SWORDS illustrated anniversary edition, you can pick one up from Beastly Books at https://jeancocteaucinema.com/beastlybooks/   

The Beast also has signed copies of the Anniversary Editions of A GAME OF THRONES and A CLASH OF KINGS, if you want a matching set — for your own collection, or for a Christmas gift (hint, hint).

Of course, copies of the new STORM OF SWORDS will also be on sale (unsigned, alas) at your favorite local bookshop (if it is still open during the pandemic) or online bookseller.

And hey, STORM was a Hugo loser too!

Current Mood: excited excited

A STORM OF SWORDS: THE ILLUSTRATED EDITION  

October 19, 2020 at 8:19 am
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On sale 11/3 

Lavishly illustrated by the incredibly talented Gary Gianni and available now for pre-order.  

Here is a sneak peak at some of his work on this special edition of A STORM OF SWORDS, brought to you by Penguin Random House. 

And a pre-order link:

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/635347/a-storm-of-swords-the-illustrated-edition-by-george-r-r-martin/

This message has been brought to you by the minions of Fevre River.

Current Mood: artistic artistic

Back in Westeros

August 15, 2020 at 9:10 am
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I am back in my fortress of solitude again, my isolated mountain cabin.   I’d returned to Santa Fe for a short visit, to spend some time with Parris, deal with some local business that had piled up during my months away, and of course fulfill my duties to CoNZealand, the virtual worldcon.   But all that is behind me now, and I am back on the mountain again… which means I am back in Westeros again, once more moving ahead with WINDS OF WINTER.

It is curious how my life has evolved.  I mean, once upon a time, I actually wrote my books and stories in the house where I lived, in a home office.   But some decades ago, wanting more solitude, I bought the house across the street and made THAT my writer’s retreat.   No longer would I write all day in my red flannel bathrobe; now I would have to dress and put on shoes and walk all the way across the street to write.  But that worked for a while.

Things started getting busier, though.   So busy that I needed a full-time assistant.   Then the office house had someone else in it, not just me and my characters.   And then I hired a second assistant, and a third, and… there was more mail, more email, more phone calls (we put in a new phone system), more people coming by.   By now I am up to five assistants… and somewhere in there I also acquired a movie theatre, a bookstore, a charitable foundation, investments, a business manager… and…

Despite all the help, I was drowning till I found the mountain cabin.

My life up here is very boring, it must be said.  Truth be told, I hardly can be said to have a life.   I have one assistant with me at all times (minions, I call them).  The assistants do two-week shifts, and have to stay in quarantine at home before starting a shift.   Everyone morning I wake up and go straight to the computer, where my minion brings me coffee (I am utterly useless and incoherent without my morning coffee) and juice, and sometimes a light breakfast.  Then I start to write.   Sometimes I stay at it until dark.   Other days I break off in late afternoon to answer emails or return urgent phone calls.   My assistant brings me food and drink from time to time.   When I finally break off for the day, usually around sunset, there’s dinner.   Then we watch television or screen a movie.  The wi-fi sucks up on the mountain, though, so the choices are limited.   Some nights I read instead.   I always read a bit before going to sleep; when a book really grabs hold of me, I may read half the night, but that’s rare.

I sleep.  The next day, I wake up, and do the same.  The next day, the next day, the next day.   Before Covid, I would usually get out once a week or so to eat at a restaurant or go to the movies.   That all ended in March.   Since then, weeks and months go by when I never leave the cabin, or see another human being except whoever is on duty that week.  I lose track of what day it is, what week it is, what month it is.   The time seems to by very fast.   It is now August, and I don’t know what happened to July.

But it is good for the writing.

And you know, now that I reflect on it, I am coming to realize that has always been my pattern.   I moved to Santa Fe at the end of 1979, from Dubuque, Iowa.   My first marriage broke up just before that move, so I arrived in my new house alone, in a town where I knew almost no one.   Roger Zelazny was here, and he became a great friend and mentor, but Roger was married with small kids, so I really did not see him often.   There was no fandom in Santa Fe; that was all down in Albuquerque, an hour away.  I went to the club meetings every month, but that was only one night a month, and required two hours on the road.   And I had no job to meet new people.   My job was in the back room at the house on Declovina Street, so that was where I spent my days.  At night, I watched television.   Alone.   Sometimes I went to the movies.   Alone.

That was my life from December 1979 through September 1981, when Parris finally moved to Santa Fe, following Denvention.   (Not quite so bleak, maybe, I did make some local friends by late 1980 and early 1981, but it was a slow process).   When I think back on my life in 1980-1981, the memories seem to be made up entirely of conventions, interspersed with episodes of LOU GRANT and WKRP IN CINCINNATI.

Ah, but work wise, that same period was tremendously productive for me.   Lisa and I finished WINDHAVEN during that time, Gardner and I did a lot of work on “Shadow Twin,” and then I went right on and wrote all of FEVRE DREAM.   Some short stories as well.     My life, such that it was, was lived in my head, and on the page.

I wonder if it is the same for other writers?   Or is it just me?   I wonder if I will ever figure out the secret of having a life and writing a book at the very same time.

I certainly have not figured it out to date.

For the nonce, it is what it is.   My life is at home, on hold, and I am spending the days in Westeros with my pals Mel and Sam and Vic and  Ty.    And that girl with no name, over there in Braavos.

 

 

 

 

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Dates and Days and Dragons, Oh My

August 11, 2020 at 10:16 am
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They keep telling me that calendars are on their way out, that nobody uses them any more, that hip folks just check the day and date on their smart phones.   Maybe so, maybe so… but I am old school, and I love them, can’t help myself.  And I love great fantasy art as well, so our annual SONG OF ICE & FIRE illustrated calendar is one of my favorite things.

Every year we feature the work of a different artist, each one bringing their own unique vision to the Seven Kingdoms and my characters.   This year — well, next year, actually, the 2021 calendar — the paintings are the work of an amazing British artist named SAM HOGG… and damn, but they are gorgeous.

 

The calendar is now officially ON SALE, and available at your favorite local bookstore (if they are open) or online bookseller, or wherever fine calendars are sold.

If you’d like an autographed copy, we have them in stock at Beastly Books.   https://jeancocteaucinema.com/beastlybooks/   Write for details.   Those are signed by me, of course.

I believe that our amazing artist, Sam Hogg, also has some copies set aside, signed by her.

She’s in the UK, though, and I’m in the New Mexico, so getting one signed by both of us is… tough.

More of her work can be found at www.artofsamhogg.com

twitter: @zephyri

Instagram: @thewhalergirl

 

 

Current Mood: bouncy bouncy

Writing, Reading, Writing

June 23, 2020 at 9:38 am
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I have to confess, after half a year of pandemic, quarantine, and social distancing, I am showing signs of cabin fever… half of which is quite literal in my case.  Yes, I am in an actual cabin in the mountains.   No, I have no fever.   Yay!   For the present at least, I am healthy… for an out-of-shape guy of 71, at least … and doing all I can to stay that way.

If nothing else, the enforced isolation has helped me write.   I am spending long hours every day on THE WINDS OF WINTER, and making steady progress.   I finished a new chapter yesterday, another one three days ago, another one the previous week.   But no, this does not mean that the book will be finished tomorrow or published next week.   It’s going to be a huge book, and I still have a long way to go.   Please do not give any credence to any of the click-bait websites that like to parse every word of my posts as if they were papal encyclicals to divine hidden meanings.

I was heartbroken when CoNZealand was forced to go virtual due to the pandemic and I had to cancel my plans (exciting plans) for a long trip down to Wellington with Parris and my minions… but there is definitely a silver lining in that cloud.   The last thing I need right now is a long interruption that might cost me all the momentum I have built up.   I can always visit Wellington next year, when I hope that both Covid-19 and THE WINDS OF WINTER will be done.

I still plan to host the Hugo Awards and fulfill all the rest of my toastmasterly duties for worldcon, and have started pre-recording some bits for the ceremony (a wise precaution, since I am hopeless with Zoom and Skype and like things), but that is a lot less time-consuming and distracting than flying to the other end of the world.   In between tapings, I return to Westeros.   Of late I have been visiting with Cersei, Asha, Tyrion, Ser Barristan, and Areo Hotah.   I will be dropping back into Braavos next week.    I have bad days, which get me down, and good days, which lift me up, but all in all I am pleased with the way things are doing.

I do wish they would go faster, of course.   Way way back in 1999, when I was deep in the writing of A STORM OF SWORDS, I was averaging about 150 pages of manuscript a month.   I fear I shall never recapture that pace again.   Looking back, I am not sure how I did it then.    A fever indeed.

Anyway… when I am not writing, or thinking about writing, I am watching television and reading.    Publishers send me huge piles of books, so my “to be read” pile is always growing, no many how many books I consume.   Of course, I also buy books as well.   Cannot help it, I am a book junkie.   The new Stephen King collection IF IT BLEEDS was one recent favorite.  I love these novella collections that King comes out with from time to time between his novels.   This one features a new Holly Gibney story, and it is always great to see that character again… but there’s also a story called “Rat” about a writer trying to finish a novel in an isolated cabin which… ah… resonated with me rather strongly for some reason.   One bit, where the writer gets derailed trying to figure out how many rocking chairs a sheriff could fit on his porch, was a dead-on depiction of the kind of stuff I go through all the time.   Steve’s protagonist gets some help when a dead rat turns up to be his muse.  So far, no rats at my cabin.    Sid did catch a couple of mice last year, but she made pets of them.  And Timmy and TomTom were no help whatsoever with WINDS.   (Please don’t send me long emails about the dangers of mice, we know all that stuff).

Another recent book that really knocked me out was THE GLASS HOTEL, the latest by Emily St. John Mandel.    A few years back, she wrote a (ahem) post-pandemic SF novel called STATION ELEVEN which I loved at the time and now devoutly hope is not going to prove prophetic.  It was my favorite novel of that year, and I thought it deserved to win the Hugo and the Nebula.   Which it didn’t, alas.   But I had Emily at my theatre for an author event, which was great, and snapped up her three earlier novels.  I really liked those too.   Now comes her latest, THE GLASS HOTEL.  No, this one is not science fiction or fantasy.  In fact, I would be hard pressed to say what it is except a damn fine novel.   It is about a hotel in a remote location, the people who work there, the people who stay there, it is about a Ponzi scheme, and art, and music, and a dysfunctional family, and… oh, well, I don’t know what it is about, but I do know that once I started reading, I could not stop.   When people describe a book as a “page turner,” usually they are talking about novels that have a lot of plot, which Mandel definitely does not, yet somehow she keeps me turning pages regardless.   And she writes just beautifully.   Her prose is not overblown or excessively ornate, as is the case with too many writers who are known as “stylists,” but… it is just lovely, haunting and evocative and immersive…   I guess you can say I am a big Emily St. John Mandel fanboy.   I look forward to whatever she writes next.

There are other things going on in my life as well.   I bought a railroad… well, I bought a third of a railroad.   See the post below.   Hollywood has slowed to a crawl thanks to the pandemic, but THE HOUSE OF THE DRAGON is still flying along wonderfully, thanks to Ryan Condal and his writers, and the tireless Ti Mikkel.   With my producer hat on, I am still involved in trying to bring Nnedi Okorafor’s brilliant WHO FEARS DEATH to the small screen, and relaunch the WILD CARDS tv project.   We have feature films in development adapted from my stories “Sandkings” and “The Ice Dragon” and “The Lost Lands,” television shows in development based on works by Roger Zelazny and Tony Hillerman, there are the secret shorts we’re doing that… well, no, if I spilled that, it wouldn’t be secret.

But up here on the mountain, all of that that seems very distant, and much of it has stuttered to a halt in any case, until Covid goes away.

Mostly, it’s just me in Westeros, with occasional side trips to other places in the pages of a great book.

Now you will have to excuse me.   Arya is calling.   I think she means to kill someone.

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Real Life Prehistoric Dragons

February 25, 2020 at 2:31 pm
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This is really too cool.

A new genus of pteradon has been discovered, and named after the dragons of House Targaryen.

https://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/soaring-dragonlike-dinosaur-named-for-game-of-thrones-house-targaryen/

I am delighted, needless to say.   Especially by the kind words of the discoverer, paleontologist Rodrigo Pegas, who is solidly on my side about dragons having two legs, not four, and pfui on those medieval heralds with their wyvern talk.

Alas, there is no evidence that the real-life Targaryendraco wiedenrothi actually breathed fire.

No evidence… yet.

 

Current Mood: bouncy bouncy

King’s Anniversary

November 13, 2019 at 7:42 am
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Hard to believe (at least for me), but it’s been twenty years since A CLASH OF KINGS was first published, in 1999.

That being the case, however, we wanted to do something special to mark the occasion.  And we have.

The anniversary edition of CLASH from Bantam is gorgeously and lavishly illustrated by Lauren K. Cannon, with black and white line drawings and full color plates.   The new edition also contains a special introduction by Bernard Cornwell, father of Richard Sharpe and Uhtred son of Uhtred, a giant of historical fiction.   You should be able to find a copy at your favorite local bookstore or from any good online bookseller.

 

If you’re an autograph collector, signed copies are available for $50 from https://jeancocteaucinema.com/product/a-clash-of-kings-the-illustrated-edition-pre-orders/

This new edition to A CLASH OF KINGS is a matched companion volume to the 20th Anniversary Illustrated Edition of A GAME OF THRONES, released in 2016.   That one is also available, signed, from Beastly Books at the Cocteau.

 

With the holidays coming up fast, you might also wanted to check out some of the other goodies available from the Cocteau, where you’ll find titles by Diana Gabaldon, John Scalzi, Lee Child, Mary Robinette Kowal, Walter Jon Williams, Melinda Snodgrass, the late great Victor Milan, Leonard Maltin, Marko Kloos, Carrie Vaughn, Erica Jong, Janis Ian, Dennis Lehane, Richard Kadrey, Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois, the Suicide Girls, and many many many more.

And remember, ALL of our books are autographed.

https://jeancocteaucinema.com/shop/

 

Current Mood: happy happy