There’s no way to sugarcoat it: attending the final season premiere for the adaptation of a work he’s not even finished with must have been wildly strange for George R.R. Martin. Nevertheless, he appeared to be in good spirits at last week’s New York City red carpet premiere, having accepted the showrunners are doing their abridged version of the ending he provided them years ago while he works on the, let’s say, “longer format.”
In an interview at said red carpet, the author opens up about his mixed emotions on the show coming to an end; Jane Goldman’s prequel pilot in pre-production; how, despite his ‘gardener’ approach as a writer, the ending for all main characters was decided years ago; and about The Winds of Winter, the sixth novel in the planned seven-part A song of Ice and Fire saga he’s still writing, apparently under stricter circumstances than before.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Martin admits he doesn’t feel like season eight “should be the final season,” as, for him it seems they “just started last week.”
“Has it been longer than that?,” he asks jokingly. “The time has passed by in a blur. But it’s exciting. I know it’s an end, but it’s not much of an end for me. I’m still deep in writing the books. We saw five other sequel shows in development. I think I’m going to be hanging around Westeros while everyone else has left.”
Regarding the Jane Goldman-showrun Game of Thrones prequel pilot set during the mythic Long Night, Martin appears excited that it’s “getting very close” to production: “They have a great director and an amazing cast. I’ve been following along closely. I have my fingers crossed. It’s different. It’s definitely very different. It’s set thousands of years in the past. You’re looking at a whole different era of Westeros. No dragons, no Iron Throne, no King’s Landing. It will be interesting to see what the fans make of that.”
“You might find a sentence or two [about the Long Night] in The World of Ice and Fire. You certainly won’t find 12 pages. A lot of this is based on that line or two, and Jane then took it and came up with something,” Martin explains.
The ending of A Song of Ice and Fire, and therefore Game of Thrones, is another story entirely. He admits the so-called “gardener approach” to writing made it so “sometimes, [a minor new] character comes alive in a way” he “hadn’t planned,” but the overall story and main character beats are fixed, and have been for a quarter of a century: “With the major characters, I have had the beats of this planned out since 1994 or 1995,” he reveals. “I know the major strokes. Not with some of the people who have barged in afterward.”
Considering showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss met with Martin in his home to be told the ending almost twenty years after that date, it’s fair to say the show is indeed adapting Martin’s idea for the ending, though it’s obviously not capable of being a direct adaptation of unpublished books. An unprecedented situation, to say the least (and one neither the author nor the showrunners ever wanted to find themselves in.)
Finally, as for those unpublished books, in particular The Winds of Winter, Martin assures us he’s taken extreme measures to make sure he’s hard at work at it: “I’ve been in isolation. My loyal staff — I have a couple of them with me — have chained me to the typewriter. They’re making me eat healthy food,” he bemoans, and laughs. “It’s horrible!”