George R.R. Martin on Game Of Thrones seasons 4, 5, 6 and beyond

News Louisa Mellor 21 Mar 2013 - 08:15

An in-depth Q&A with Game Of Thrones creators Martin, Weiss, and Benioff has appeared online, full of juicy tidbits for Westeros fans...

Now that the US press launch for Game of Thrones' third season has taken place, the internet is teeming with red carpet cast interviews from the beautiful people. Fun as those are, the voices we really want to hear are from those behind the camera, namely, A Song of Ice and Fire writer George R.R. Martin, and Game of Thrones creators DB Weiss and David Benioff, all three of them beautiful in their own way.

Luckily for us then, at a recent Q&A session Martin, Weiss and Benioff spoke at length about their first meeting, the plans for future series and books, and the hardship of killing off characters they've come to love...

On why Martin decided to let Benioff and Weiss adapt his saga

Martin: They’re both novelists who have written their own books. So, we had this lunch at the Palm that was pretty epic. We got there for lunch and started talking, and we continued to talk. They had the some notion not to do it as a feature film, but to do it as a television production. We talked right through lunch. Everybody from lunch left. We were alone in the restaurant. They started resetting all the tables for dinner, and then the dinner crowd started to come in, and we were still talking. I did ask them a few pointed question to determine whether they had actually read the books, and they gave me the right answers. 

The make-or-break question Martin asked Benioff and Weiss to find out what they knew about his saga

Weiss: He asked us, “Who is Jon Snow’s mother?” We had discussed it before, and we gave a shocking answer. At that point, George didn’t actually say whether or not we were right or wrong, but his smile was his tell. We knew we had passed the Wonka test, at that point. 

On A Song of Ice and Fire’s relationship to previous fantasy sagas

Martin: There’s a meta-fictional aspect, if I may use that pretentious word, to writing anything. You’re writing in the shadow of all the people that have gone before and, in a way, you’re having a dialogue with them. As someone who’s read J.R. Tolkien and Robert E. Howard and all the great fantasists before, this is almost my answer to them. A lot of it is about war. A great many of the epic fantasies, from The Lord of the Rings onward, are about war, but to my mind, a lot of it doesn’t really deal honestly with the consequences of war, what war does to us, as a society, what war does to us, as individuals, and the struggle for power, in the same way, and what we’re fighting for. 

I love fantasy. I grew up reading fantasy. But, I wanted to put a somewhat different spin on it. The whole trope of absolute good versus absolute evil, which was wonderful in the hands of J.R. Tolkien, became cliché and rote in the hands of the many Tolkien imitators that followed. I’ve always preferred writing about grey characters and human characters. Whether they are giants or elves or dwarves, or whatever they are, they’re still human and the human heart is still in conflict with the self. As Faulkner says, all of us have the capacity in us for great good and for great evil, for love but also for hate. I wanted to write those kinds of complex character in a fantasy, and not just have all the good people get together to fight the bad guy. 

On whether Martin’s affection for his characters affects their longevity in the saga

Martin: Fortunately, I’m so far ahead of the series. At the premiere, I found myself talking to three very nice actors, at one point, who were very pleasant, and I was having a great time talking with them and drinking with them, and then I suddenly realized that I had killed all three of them, at various points in the series, and that they would all shortly be unemployed actors. And I had a moment of horrible guilt, but it’s already done. It was particularly sad when one of them said, “Please don’t kill my character,” and she’s already dead. It’s probably just as well that I don’t actually know these people when I’m doing it. When I meet the actors and actresses, they’re such tremendously nice people, and it’s then hard to kill them. David and Dan don’t seem to have that problem, though. I’ve noticed that, as bloodthirsty as I am, in killing all of these characters, David and Dan are killing some characters who are still alive in the books. Their body count is actually ahead of mine. When they say no one is safe in the series, that’s literally true. There are characters who are in book 5 and who are going to be in book 6, who are dead on the TV show.  

On who they want to be on the Iron Throne at the end of the story 

Martin: I know who’s going to be on the throne, at the end, so I better not say. But, there will be a few people sitting on it, before the end.  

Weiss: George has told us the answer. 

On where Martin is with the book series 

Martin: Well, I’m writing book 6, The Winds of Winter. I’m starting to worry because everybody keeps asking me, “What are you going to do, if David and Dan and the show catches up to you?,” and I didn’t think it was a problem before, but they’re moving faster than I am and it’s beginning to scare me. I have not failed to notice this. I feel sometimes as if I’m laying track for a railroad and I can hear the locomotive coming up behind me. It’s building speed and I see the smoke and I hear the whistle coming, and I better keep laying that track pretty fast ‘cause I’ll get squashed, if the locomotive comes. But, I still have a pretty considerable lead, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. Season 3 is only the first half of book 3. Season 4 will be the second half of book 3. And then, I have book 4 and book 5, and those are gigantic books which have to be recombined because they’re actually parallel. I’m hoping those will be at least two seasons, maybe three. That will give me some time to finish book 6. By the time they’re doing that season, I’ll be writing book 7. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. 

More of the Q&A, including a cautionary tale on why you should never challenge Jason Momoa to a game of Mercy, is available from Collider, here.

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