Feb 152012
 

image via Guardian UK

I am so excited to share with you today an interview with one of my favorite writers, George R.R. Martin. For those of you who don’t know him, Martin is an author perhaps best known for the best-selling “A Song of Ice and Fireseries, which was adapted last year by HBO for the show, Game of Thrones. He was one of Time’s 2011 Most Influential People in the World, and an all around cool dude who was kind enough to spend some time chatting with me a few weeks ago.

There’s an amazing feeling you get when you finish reading a truly fantastic book – a mixture of satisfaction, happiness, envy, and a little sadness that you’ll never get to read it for the first time ever again. Books that leave you with that feeling are a relatively rare thing, and Martin is one of the few authors who continually delivers them. As someone who loves reading, I admire Martin greatly, and I hope you will like meeting him as much as I did:

Name a favorite book you enjoy that’s from a genre most people wouldn’t associate you with.

Well, I do like historical fiction which some people don’t realize. I like Bernard Cornwell’s latest historical novel, Death of Kings. I just read the Hunger Games because the movie’s coming out and I wanted to read it before it was released. Right now I’m in the middle of reading a sci fi book called Ready Player One which is kind of about virtual reality and video gaming, that’s getting a lot of buzz.

What’d you think of Hunger Games? 

I enjoyed it. It was a real page turner, and I’m going to read the next two books.

What about Twilight – have you read that series? 

I have not read Twilight, no. I have my own take on vampires as I did a book called Fevre Dream in the early 80′s about that topic. And so, sparkly vampires in high school…are not up my alley (laughing). My vampires don’t sparkle.

Are there any authors or books that drive you crazy? Or that just don’t interest you? 

Drive me crazy? In a bad way? That I’m not so sure of. Authors that aren’t interesting…yeah, there’ve been a few over the years. There’s a lot of books I read that just don’t grab me. Because of the success I’ve had, a lot of people now ask me to blurb their books. To do an endorsement…you know, that they can use on their cover. As a result I get a tremendous amount of free books, ARC (advance release copies), and they come in every week. I do take a look at them, I like the idea of helping new writers.

But you’d be surprised at how many books that just don’t hook me. I get them in the mail, pick them up and read the first few pages or chapters. They may be good, but when they’re less good, I put them down and don’t get the urge to put it up again. Then the next time I want to read something, I end up grabbing a new book instead.

So I wouldn’t say that there are any books or authors that drive me crazy – but there’s a lot of books that leave me indifferent. Life is short. When I was younger, I had an almost religious determination to finish every book I started. Even if I really hated the book, I would still slog doggedly through. Thankfully in recent years I don’t do that any longer. If a book isn’t working for me, I stop.

Martin for the Time 100 Most Influential Issue, image via Time

If you weren’t writing…what would you be doing?

I did teach college in the 70′s and I enjoyed doing that. I loved working with students. In some way I had to get out of it though, because it was too satisfying. I didn’t write enough when I was teaching. And I thought, if I want to be writer I need to get out of this job, otherwise I’m going to lose myself in teaching. I value teachers and think what they do is very important, but I knew I wanted to write.

I still do some teaching. Next year I’m teaching a seminar at Clarion West in Seattle. But that’s only for a few weeks. I do workshops and writer’s conferences every of couple years and get to work with some writers there.

What are some of your favorite TV shows? 

One of the things that has been really cool for me is having a series on HBO, because I really admire what they’ve been doing, and a lot of their dramas that have been on in the last ten years or so have been some of the best out there. I’m talking about Deadwood, Rome which unfortunately ended way too soon (but the fact that they did it, meant they could do my show too). Sopranos is always a favorite. I used to love NYPD Blue with Sipowicz and all of that. NYPD Bluewas my favorite cop show.

In the 80′s I loved Lou Grant with Ed Asner – it was a newspaper show, which appealed to me since my background and degree are in journalism. There are shows I watched when I was a kid, that I have a sneaking affection for. The old Westerns of the 50′s – Maverick, Have Gun – Will Travel. Rocky Jones Space Ranger was awesome.

HBO ad for the first season of the amazing “Game of Thrones”

Tell me the best piece of advice you’ve ever received. 

The best advice I ever received was a long time ago – to find a job you love. People have to find their happiness in life. I see and have met in my life so many people who don’t like their work. They do their work for money and they do it to support their family or something like that, which of course is understandable. But so many of them are miserable. And it’s weird to me because we work for so much of our lives, we do it for five days a week, we spend a majority of our lives at work. And money aside, you need to do what makes you happy. You have to find something you love.

What’s the biggest misconception about you? 

Oh boy. I’m having a tough time thinking about something here.

So does that mean that everything out there is true then? 

Oh, well all right. Here’s a misconception. There’s some weird theories out there, about my books. The  books (A Song of Ice and Fire series) take a lot time to write as you know – and the last one was seriously late. I’ve read some crazy theories on the internet about the delay. Lunatic fans who think I finished writing four years earlier and was just sitting on the finished book to drive the price up. Or that I was just hiding it away. Clearly some people know nothing about publishing.

Who do you really admire in the world?

Politically I’m a liberal Democrat, so I have some of the expected heroes. I admire Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy. Eugene McCarthy was a hero of mine back in college. I was part of the “Get Clean for Gene” movement, was one of the kids trying to end the Vietnam War through the electoral process.

Some of Martin’s figures, via his website

What’s been your biggest splurge in the last year for you? 

I collect toy soldiers and toy knights in particular. So I’ve bought a lot of those. I’m looking for a big splurge right now, I’m shopping for a car. I haven’t actually bought one yet. I haven’t found a really hot car I can’t resist.

For those of you who (like me) have no idea what the Morgan SuperSports is…here it is

What are some finalists in the car race?

The Morgan Aero SuperSports looks cool. I also like the the new Mercedes Benz two seater Gullwing.

What are some of your vices? 

Hmm. I don’t really have any bad vices. I don’t drink to excess or do drugs or anything. My biggest vice is food. I do enjoy a good meal, as my waistline testifies unfortunately. But, hey – what’s life for if you can’t indulge?

Martin speaking with Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister) on the set of Game of Thrones, via HBO

What are your three favorite movies of all time? 

For sci-fi, it’s Forbidden Planet – a 1954 MGM film with Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Walter Pidgeon and more. It’s actually a sci-fi version of The Tempest (Shakespeare). The special effects are a little outdated at this moment of course, but the writing and acting still hold up at the heart of it.

I love all the classics. Citizen Kane, Casablanca, etc. Bonnie and Clyde is a film that I loved when I saw it way back when.

Any movies released in the last decade or so?

The Lord of the RingsTrilogy. They did a superb job.

As someone whose dream was once to become a writer, having the chance to speak with George R. R. Martin was such a wonderful experience – and it speaks volumes about Martin’s character and kindness that he took time out of his incredibly busy schedule to chat with me and answer my questions.

I have to stop here and just do a plug for the entire sci-fi/fantasty/graphic novel genre – the three are very distinct but so often grouped together as on the “fringes” of conventional literature. And yet I believe that some of the most exciting writing is happening in these areas. I believe it with a passion and I hope that at the very least, this interview encourages some of you to go try one of these books (I’d highly recommend Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series) for the first time. They are imaginative, they are exciting, they are incredibly well written – and George R. R. Martin is at the forefront as one of the very best authors in the group. Thank you again George, for taking the time to do this interview – and I hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I truly enjoyed putting it all together.

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  72 Responses to “Interview with George R. R. Martin”

  1. Okay, you made my day with this interview! The last thing I expected when reading some of my favorite fashion blogs this morning was to read about George R. R. Martin. Love it! I am halfway through book 5 of the series. I had never even heard of it until the HBO shows completely hooked me. I haven't put the books down since. Not sure what I'm going to do when I get through book 5 :)

    So how did you get the opportunity to interview him? Do tell!!! So cool.

  2. I have to say I've started backwards, with the show before the books- but it is a great series. Great interview Katherine!

  3. Great interview…I've never heard of him before!
    Happy Wednesday xoxo
    http://www.intotheblonde.com/

  4. Thank you for sharing this interview! I'm reading 5th book too at the moment, so, this interview was totally spot on! Besides you ask all the right questions! Perfect!

  5. I'm glad that you enjoyed it and that you are reading the books! Martin was kind enough to let me interview him :)

  6. This is incredible! Thank you so much for the interview with Mr. Martin. I know you've had interviews that weren't focused on personal style but I never would have expected him as a subject.

    I enjoyed every word of this piece. Thanks again for posting this!

  7. Lovely Interview!!!!!!!

  8. ahh i can't believe you actually got to interview him! that's awesome :) i just finished reading book 4 and can't wait to start on the 5th one. i really hope book 6 doesn't take as long…

  9. This is so cool! Definitely unexpected but what a treat :) Great interview.

  10. awesome interview! definitely going to pick up the books now (i need something after the hunger games, argh!)

    laurafornerphotography.blogspot.com

  11. I enoy all your interviews, but this is my favorite! He's inspired me not to "slog doggedly through" books I'm not really enjoying. He's totally right about life being too short for that.

  12. I loved that line too – I totally do that right now and need to stop, it's just punishing yourself further!

  13. Katherine, your interviews are incredible. I'm still pinching myself that you've interviewed me considering the fact that I'm the least interesting person I know. Anyhoo, I didn't know much about George Martin but I'm now intrigued by his books. I used to make myself finish books that I'd started but no more. He's absolutely right. Life is too short to read a bad book.

  14. Katherine, your interviews are incredible. I'm still pinching myself that you've interviewed me considering the fact that I'm the least interesting person I know. Anyhoo, I didn't know much about George Martin but I'm now intrigued by his books. I used to make myself finish books that I'd started but no more. He's absolutely right. Life is too short to read a bad book.

  15. How wonderful you got to do an interview with Mr. Martin! I am completely hooked on Game of Thrones (although peeved my hubby just cancelled HBO, I must get it back before next season!). I have been seriously slacking in reading even though I enjoy it so much…..this post is making me want to go get his book and finally read it. Thanks!

  16. I seriously wished I had HBO. I'm so temped to watch the Game of Thrones and to pick up a copy of his book. Adding it right now to my amazon wishlist. :) \
    Also I love his opinions on lack-luster novels. I've picked up a book and with in a day I hate or I love it.

  17. Game of thrones is fantastic, I love it!!
    Your blog is so fantastic.
    I´m your new follower, I invite you to visit my blog, it has a google traslator on the top, on the right, so you can read me :D
    xoxoxo from Spain!
    http://janakitchen.blogspot.com

  18. You knocked my expectations out of the park! George R.R. Martin!! I love this blog, but I love the crosss over and that it isn't limited to great fashion picks. It was my best read of the day.

  19. Wow, I can't believe you got to interview him! I love the show, and am just now starting to get into the book series. I too am a lover of sci-fi/fantasy novels, I think they just don't get enough credit.

    keepcalmandcarrylipstick.blogspot.com

  20. I love this post! And I love your blog. I'm adding you to my reader!

    gilead in bloom

  21. Mica my friend thank you for your kind words! YOU made my day :)

  22. I want to see Game of Thorns now. HBO has great shows. No wonder it's so expensive.

    Okay, no offense, but this guy needs to read Twilight :O) He'll find American writing unique and mesmerizing. Plus, I like it when people read about my home state of Washington. It's a fun place to live.

    http://www.thegirlieblog.com

  23. Wow! I was not expecting to see this in my list of fashion blogs today either! I love it when the authors of my favorite books turn out to be genuinely interesting and intelligent people. With George being in the media so much since Game of Thrones began, I was kind of leery. Some authors just ruin the magic, but he seems so lovely. I'm so jealous you were able to speak with him!

    Jen
    motu viget

  24. Thank you! I'm an Atwood fan as well :)

  25. You are being way too modest! Yes please check out his books, I'm sure you will love them!

  26. Great interview. I love his advice about finding the work you love. I believe that if you do what you love the money will follow! xo

  27. George *is* American.

  28. Great interview — that must have been fun to do! And I guess that's one more reason to try to make it to Clarion West one of these days…

  29. What a great interview! Very enjoyable!!!

  30. What a great interview! Very enjoyable!!!

  31. Great interview! I want to be a romance writer. I still dream of it but I know right now, it's not the time. I have too much on my plate as of right now.

    It's cool to read about the internal thinkings of a writer, to get a clearer perspective of what they really are compared to what they write about.

  32. I loved this interview, it's just the kind of author interview I like to read. I too was a lover of that series Rome, hardcore really and couldn't believe it ended!

    xo Mary Jo

  33. Great interview. Congrats on snagging some of his time!

  34. Oh my gosh this is so cool. I love the 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series. I'm on Book 5 with 100 pages to go, and i'm reluctant to finish it because I don't want to wait too long for Book 6! He is such an amazing writer.

    Chantalle from http://www.hautetrot.com

  35. *Game of Thrones

    And as mentioned above, he is American. You too obviously need to start reading American authors…

  36. I think the Twilight series would annoy him, actually. He's written a vampire book also (which was really good, for what it's worth), and he definitely sees vampires as fitting more in the realm of horror, not romance. He's also more than a little particular about writing as a craft, and the way Meyer communicates her story to the reader is maybe a little too simplistic for his preferences.

  37. Great interview! I especially like the shot of Martin and Peter Dinklage.

  38. That us so cool that you interviewed him! I was just reading about the show and will check out the book too!

  39. Wow, amazing! Huge congratulations on getting this interview! :)

  40. This was an amazing interview!!! I love the series and will now have to read the books… I've heard nothing but great things. Thank you so much!

  41. Fantastic! The hubs will love reading this!

  42. This was fantastic. I love how your blog is not all just about fashion. I've watched the first season of game of thrones on HBO, do you think reading the book would make it less enjoyable? I guess, my dilemma is i dont know if i should start reading book 1 or 2 because i've seen the show. What do you think?

  43. Thank you! I would actually start with book 1, there's a ton of detail in there that naturally couldn't make it to the show, and it'll make reading book 2 a lot easier..I think it might be difficult to do season 1 of show and then just start on book 2. You might be a little less surprised at some of the plots in book 1 but it is still a GREAT read!

  44. Thank you! I would actually start with book 1, there's a ton of detail in there that naturally couldn't make it to the show, and it'll make reading book 2 a lot easier..I think it might be difficult to do season 1 of show and then just start on book 2. You might be a little less surprised at some of the plots in book 1 but it is still a GREAT read!

  45. Reading bad books? Time is a coin best spent on lifes enjoyments, and misspent on anything else …
    Tom

  46. Thanks so much for posting this interview with George R. R. Martin. Great bit of insight into the man behind the writing. Nice for other writers starting out to see humility in someone so successful. For work "you have to find something you love." So true.

    Cheers, Adam.

    http://www.writingthepastblog.blogspot.com

  47. Thanks so much for posting this interview with George R. R. Martin. Great bit of insight into the man behind the writing. Nice for other writers starting out to see humility in someone so successful. For work "you have to find something you love." So true.

    Cheers, Adam.

    http://www.writingthepastblog.blogspot.com

  48. GRR sounds like such a nice man. You asked him some great and interesting questions, too. I really enjoyed reading this!

  49. My jaw dropped when I came across this on your blog this is so cool that you got the chance to interview him. I'm a big fan of the Songs of Fire and Ice books and was even more excited when HBO picked it up as a series. Great interview!
    -Ash
    Beauty-Flawed.blogspot.com

  50. My jaw dropped when I came across this on your blog this is so cool that you got the chance to interview him. I'm a big fan of the Songs of Fire and Ice books and was even more excited when HBO picked it up as a series. Great interview!
    -Ash
    Beauty-Flawed.blogspot.com

  51. Such a cool interview! I have only seen a few episodes of Game of Thrones but it's pretty addicting!

  52. I know exactly how you feel-I finished book five about a month ago and since then I have been trying to find out any news about book six but not much out there states if he is writting one or when its going to come out so in the meantime i thing I am going to re-read teh first five books

  53. Omg why did he let Jon die?? He and the Nightwatch were my favorites!

  54. I was so excited when I saw your post! I loved the Song of Ice and Fire books, I am still trying to complete book 4 though.
    Thank you for posting about GRRM

  55. Hi Mac, I am not sure he did die in Dances with Dragons. It left it incomplete. Jon has to have some bigger meaning and a much greater role in the end. To many of the Starks have died and/or lost so to take Jon out of the story would really ruin the whole dam story line as Aria, Jon, Bran, Danny. Tirion and RIP Rob were and are my favorites. He was stabbed yes but it did not leave him as dead. We can only hope. I just can't see Mr. Martin doing this to us. I finished the last book a week after it came out last April. it is almost April again so I am really hopeing Mr. Martin is close to release The Winds of Winter.

  56. where the hell did he find & STILL finding time to read and enjoy the "Hunger Games series"?! Btw Isn't that almost the same plot of the Japanese thriller film, "Battle Royale," and the novel it's based on?? Well played on the take on "Twilight" though! Prettay good interview too.

  57. I think GRRM was being polite in his answer. Surprising considering he is refreshingly unreserved in his criticism of most things he finds detestable. Pure speculation, but based on the man's pedigree and work I would confidently say he finds the banal, immature and pedestrian Twilight series utter tripe.

  58. Haha while everybody has different opinions on Twilight (I'm not personally a fan) I do think GRRM probably wouldn't enjoy it!

  59. Aah, I love that you have an interview of Mr. Martin on your blog. That is pretty awesome.

  60. Mac…. not to be a jerk, but you can't go giving away what happens in the series! It spoils it for those who haven't finished the series! Imagine if it happened to you……

  61. [...] a while since my last “book recommendations” post, but after posting the chat with George R. R. Martin, I realize that quite a few of you are reading lovers too (or at least love HBO). Either way, here [...]

  62. OMG ASOIAF is one of my favourite books!! I can’t believe you interviewed Mr Martin!! awesome :) Love the interview!! Couldn’t stop lol-ing when he said his vampires don’t sparkle haha too good!

  63. [...] Side note: I’m loving the book and the TV series, by the way. And since I’m on it, if you’re loving George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series, I would recommend Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time book series. It’s just as epic! And, may I interest you with Feather Factor’s interview with George R.R. Martin? [...]

  64. hi, I like your blog so much esp Interview article.Please do write more on interview, i am like to reading more on that, it’s delighted me on the successful stories from the interviwer. May i know how do you do the interview? personally or thro email?

    Congrats on yr 2nd yrs anniv!

    wish you have a great day!

    Luv,
    Elaine from Singapore

  65. [...] of the first happy moments of Feather Factor that I will always remember was doing an interview with the fantastic George R. R. Martin, one of my favorite authors in the world. It is a something [...]

  66. [...] Read the rest of the interview here. [...]

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