In a recent interview at The Chicago Way w/John Kass, A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin didn’t just discuss Jane Goldman’s prequel pilot, which has just finished filming, and how The Winds of Winter is coming along, but also provided a fascinating insight into his writing process. As any writer knows, much of the writing process doesn’t involve ‘writing’ at all, and it turns out that’s true for Martin as well.
“If my writing is going well, and I’m really ‘in Westeros,’ it does haunt me day and night, and one of the times when it’s most common is when I go to bed at night. I’m laying there in bed; waiting to go to sleep; the lights are out; and the scenes that I’m gonna write tomorrow are in my head. Or maybe the scenes I’m gonna write next week, or maybe the scenes from a different chapter. I don’t know–I can’t control it, but something starts filling my head and the characters start coming alive, and I start hearing snatches of dialogue, and I drift to sleep with Westeros and Ice and Fire in my head, haunting me.”
“When I was still living in Chicago,” Martin continues, “I’d take the L [Chicago’s elevated train system] every day to work. It’s not the most exciting ride in the world, so I’d sit there, staring at the window, and stories would fill my head. Not necessarily [because of] the things that I was seeing on the rooftops of Chicago–but other planets, imaginary realms, and all of that. So it’s almost a case where you’re zoning out; you’re riding on the L and it’s boring or you’re drifting to sleep and you’re not quite asleep yet, but you’re not awake [anymore] either, and then the stuff comes to you.”
As many suspected and the author has intimated before, this crucial ritual of reflection is not exclusively reserved for the world of Westeros and The Winds of Winter -his sixth book in the series- anymore, as other projects have come to divide his attention:
“Of course, what’s happened in my life recently is that there’s so much else now,” Martin admits. “The success of the show and other things has injected a lot of other aspects into my life. So sometimes I lay in bed at night and I’m not thinking about Westeros, even thought I may want to–I’m thinking about some other problem I’m having; one of the other shows I’m involved with; or a deadline on an anthology I’m editing; or something that’s happening with the non-profit organization that I started. All of these other things are filling my head and that is one of the thing’s that’s delayed me. I really have to get Winds done; I’ve really have to put myself on a state where I’m not being distracted by other stuff, and that period at night is filled with the voices of Tyrion Lannister and Arya Stark and the other fictional characters who live inside of me.”
The show coming to an end has freed his mind a fair bit, but as we know new projects have sprung up to take its place: “There was a period where the show caught and past me, and I hadn’t anticipated that happening, so there was a tremendous amount of stress on me a few years ago when that was about to happen but hadn’t happened yet, and I was desperately trying to finish Winds and stay ahead. And it didn’t work. The amount of stress that was on me at the time slowed me down rather than speeding me up. Now that the show’s over, any stress in that regard is done, but of course, we have five successor shows in various stages of development–and one of them’s just finished shooting the pilot episode in Northern Ireland; another one’s very close to getting a pilot order. I’m involved with those as well. Game of Thrones, that particular story, may be over on TV, but it’s not over for me–I still have these two more books to write. And there’s other stories in the world of Westeros, which is an entire world, and I’m still deeply involved with those. So there’s still plenty to keep me busy.”
At Vogue, on a fashion-centered piece, Maisie Williams discusses how playing Arya, a tomboy had to often pass for a boy, affected her self-image, and how she got past it:
“A couple of seasons in the middle, maybe around season two or three, my body started to mature, and I started to become a woman. But Arya was still very much trying to be disguised as a boy, and I had really short hair, and they constantly covered me in dirt and shade my nose so as it looked really broad and I look really manly. And they’d also put this strap across my chest to flatten any ‘growth’ that had started”.
“I don’t know–that just felt horrible,” Maisie admits. “And I felt kind of ashamed for a while. So we’ve got this new phase of my style. It’s nice to look more feminine, and have a real waistline, and embrace the body that I have.”