The feeling in the theatre was electrifying. We were all excited. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, this was the moment you were waiting for.
But wait, let’s rewind a bit.
A few weeks ago I got word of George R. R. Martin, author of Game of Thrones (GOT), was coming to the Bay Area. Better still, he was coming to Red Wood City! That wasn’t too far off from where I live. Also, ticket proceeds would go to support the non-profit Locus SF Foundation, parent to Locus Magazine, the long-standing journal of record for the science fiction and fantasy. Perfect. I knew it then, I’m there!
Fast forward to the present, I arrived at the theatre..
EARLY. Like, hours early. Bay Area traffic is not to be underestimated. So, I found myself at the theatre with more than enough time to spare. I ended up picking up a few books at the makeshift bookstore managed by Borderlands Books. I was able to snag a a copy of the Illustrated Edition of a Song of Ice and Fire as well as at The Mystery Knight, a graphic novel set in the same world, but a century before the events of Game of Thrones.
A few minutes later I’m seated in this gorgeous theatre and eagerly waiting for the arrival of our hosts. It didn’t take long until:
George R. R. Martin and John Picacio arrived!
If you’re not aware John Picacio is a Hugo Award-winning artist. If you’ve bought some of George R. R. Martin’s books you may have seen his work:
After much applause from the crowd, the show began.
John Picacio, of course, needed to clear the air. He said, he knew there was ONE question everyone was dying to find out. So he asked George, WHEN? When can we expect him to finish the Game of Thrones books? George’s reply was epic:
WORKING ON IT! You’ll know when it’s done!
To the applause of the audience. And that certainly set the tone for the rest of the night. George continued explaining that how, even if this is the last season of Game of Thrones on HBO, this certainly is not the last we’ve seen of Westeros! He said he’s working on 5 successor series to Game of Thrones, some of which are GOT prequels.
What I also really liked about the talk was how much I learned about George R. R. Martin himself. It turns out he didn’t have such a smooth childhood as his parents weren’t very well do to, although they had been. He said that experience helped shape his personality. It was very interesting to hear because one of the things that pushed him was the fact he knew his family wasn’t born that way and that, at a certain point before his family had owned much more and been more wealthy. This thought strengthened his self worth. He knew he was worth more than what he had and that pushed him forward as a kid.
George also explained that being a writer or working in a creative type profession is hard. For example, it’s a lot about picking yourself back up again. There is no job security, you have to be a bit of a gambler and it’s a very volatile market. At a certain point in his career he went through at least low points. The first was when his first book, The Armageddon Rag, failed to garner popularity and the second when his career as Hollywood writer hit a wall. At a certain point, he even considered taking up real estate! So, he said he has two main advice for aspiring writers and/or people pursuing a creative profession:
- Live within your means. Don’t take any unnecessary debt and stay stable. You never know when your career will go up OR go down. You need to be stable enough to deal with either situation.
- Don’t ever stop! Just keep writing or creating. The work itself should be the reward. For him, he couldn’t think of anything else he’d want to do but write.
I also have to say George R. R. Martin is funny! He kept throwing jokes and we were all thoroughly entertained. It was a whole lot of fun.
Later on John Picacio asked George R. R. Martin how he felt about HBO completing Game of Thrones before he got to do it. George explained that, to him, it was telling the same story in different ways. I’d like to think of it, based on what I heard, as a variant. Often comics can be reprinted with different covers but the content is the same, from how George explained it, the story from HBO is sort of a variant of the story he’s still working on in the books. That left me excited. Now I want to read the book series, which I have unfortunately haven’t, and complete watching the HBO series. I think you can equally enjoy both versions of Game of Thrones and still be able to appreciate the entire story as a whole. Maybe you can even appreciate it more since you’ve seen two versions of the same story? Yes, that’s how I’m going to think of it – at least that’s how I’m going to justify my next Game of Thrones binge, either of the HBO show and/or the books.
There was a short intermission after the talk, allowing for people to take a break before the Q&A happening after. At that time, John Picacio went out and sold limited prints of his work which was based on characters from Game of Thrones. I ended up getting a print of Bran and John Picacio was kind enough to sign it:
The rest of the discussion was left for Q&A. There were a lot of questions but one question stood out to me: Who did George think was the hardest character to write for? George said it was probably Bran Stark. This was mostly because Bran was 8 years old in the series and it’s difficult to imagine or determine what’s on Bran’s mind as a child. Also, since effectively Bran is one of the only “wizards” in Westeros he was especially careful how he manages his writing of the magic involved. For instance, magic in a novel can be interesting to read but it can be challenging to implement and easy to get wrong.
On a final note, George R. R. Martin and John Picacio’s talk went well and it was very well received. Both artists also made sure to invite members of the audience to the World Con 76! World Con is the annual international gathering of science fiction and fantasy fans which is happening in San Jose CA this weekend. You know I’m going!
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan this definitely was the event to be at. If you couldn’t make it, I hope this summary above helped capture some of the fanfare we experienced. Anyway, thanks for reading and I’ll catch you at the next Blog post! Which will be:
WORLD CON 76 Coverage! If you can’t make it to World Con this year or want to know what it’s like check out the Planet Skkaw’s coverage here.
Also, special thanks to Cyn from SF for the photo of me and the first photo below. Until next time!
Nicely done! It turns out I have another friend who attended the discussion with his wife; he too was I pressed to learn about GRRM’s history and how that motivated his writing,