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By Patrick (2006-05-17)
Q: What do you feel is your strength as a writer/storyteller?
GRRM: Characters. Mind you, I don't discount the importance of style and plot and the other ingredients of fiction, but for me, the people will always be the heart of the matter. I want my characters to be as real to my readers as the guy next door... but more interesting.
Q: Now that many purists and aficionados consider you one of the best fantasy authors in the world and now that you have hit number 1 on the NYT bestseller list, is there added pressure when it comes down to writing a new addition to the series?
GRRM: Sure. Some of the reviews have been very flattering, but the series is not finished yet. The end needs to be as strong as the beginning.
Q: What would you say was the hardest part of the entire process involved in the writing of the A Song of Ice and Fire? Each new addition reveals yet more depth to a series which has shown just how rich and complex it truly is.
GRRM: The hardest part is keeping it all straight. I do have notes, of course, but not as many as you might think. Most of it is in my head... somewhere...
Q: Is a World Fantasy Award something you covet?
GRRM: "Covet?" No. I've won a World Fantasy Award, as it happens, for my werewolf novella "The Skin Trade." If I were to win another for A Song of Ice and Fire, I'm sure that I'd be very pleased... but in general, I do not attach as much importance to juried awards like the WFA as to do the Hugo, a popular award with a much broader base.
Q: What extensive research did the writing of the A song of Ice and Fire entail?
GRRM: I've filled up several bookcases with books about medieval history. Feasts and fools and tournaments, warfare and women, various popular histories of the Hundred Years War, the Crusades, the Albigensian Crusade, the Wars of the Roses, etc. You can't read too much. You never know what information you may need.
Q: Honestly, do you believe that the fantasy genre will ever come to be recognized as veritable literature? Truth be told, in my opinion there has never been this many good books/series as we have right now, and yet there is still very little respect (not to say none) associated with the genre.
GRRM: There's still resistance, but it seems to me that J.R.R. Tolkien is finally being accepted into the canon, however grudgingly, and that creates hope for the rest of us. In the end, though, only time will tell. Will today's bestselling fantasies still be read twenty years from now? Fifty? One hundred?
Q: Have the plotlines diverged much since you began writing the series, or did you have the entire plot more or less figured out from the very beginning? Were any characters added or further fleshed out beyond your original intention? Have you made any changes to your initial plans during the course of the writing of the series?
GRRM: I won't say the plotlines have diverged, but the process of getting from here to there has taken more time and more pages than I initially estimated... perhaps because I found the places and people I encountered along the way so interesting. The secondary and tertiary characters are largely to blame, the spearcarriers who keep insisting that they're human too, when all I want them to do is stand there and be quiet and hold that spear. Yes, some of my initial plans have changed along the way. If they hadn't, I would just be connecting the dots, and that would drive me mad. Some writers are architects and some are gardeners, and I am in the second camp. The tale takes on a life of its own in the writing.