GRRM discusses ASOIAF and defends Joffrey (a little) and a GoT filming location app launches

georgerrmartin

During an interview with Northwestern Magazine, George R.R Martin discussed his own experience attending the university, his approach to writing and plans for A Song of Ice and Fire. Also, the Northern Ireland Screen has created a new app that’s going to make Game of Thrones fan tourism in Northern Ireland much easier.

Martin’s interview with his alma mater, understandably, focused on his time at Northwestern and how his studies shaped his eventual career as a novelist. Majoring in journalism taught him to be a more succinct writer and his minor in history influenced the world building of his novels and his preference for moral ambiguity. “I’ve always intended my characters to be gray,” he said. “We all have the capacity for heroism or villainy.”

When asked who his favorite character is, he answered, “all of them” and even defended Joffrey at a Q&A session at Northwestern. “You don’t want to give a 13-year-old absolute power,” Martin said. “I could easily see myself making some school bullies fight to the death if I’d been king at that age. It would have been amazing!”

Martin discussed the relationship between ASOIAF and Game of Thrones. He is a co-executive producer of the show but he admits that that, “doesn’t actually mean much of anything. I have a voice in decisions like casting, but no one’s obliged to listen to me.”

Despite the increased popularity that Game of Thrones has brought to the books, Martin says that “the show doesn’t influence what I write … other than adding to my stress.”

Speaking of stress, Martin addressed the progress he’s making on The Winds of Winter, admitting, “I’m a slow writer.” However, he does know where ASOIAF is headed. “I know the broad strokes of the story. I know the end of most of my characters, but the devil is in the details.”

Despite everything, Martin manages to keep things in perspective. “I always remember that this too will pass,” he says. “I imagine that one day I’ll go on the Internet and see the headline ‘Where Are They Now? Do you remember George R.R. Martin? He was famous once upon a time.’ ”

In the mean time, Northern Ireland Screen has launched an interactive Game of Thrones Filming Locations app that guides fans to twenty-one publicly accessible locations across Northern Ireland where Game of Thrones was filmed including Inch Abbey, Ballintoy Harbor, Tollymore Forest and Portstewart Strand. The app also provides a 360 panoramic photograph of each location as well as stills from the show and clips of the twenty-two scenes from seasons 1 – 5 filmed in Northern Ireland along with information on each scene and where it was filmed.

The app is available for free from the Google Play Store and will be available at the App Store soon.

61 responses

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    1. Journalism majors from Northwestern are the best! I know this, ’cause my mama graduated with honors from Northwestern’s Journalism school. I just wish he was as good about keeping deadlines as she was. Oh well. 🙂

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    2. Majoring in journalism taught him to be a more succinct writer…

      Oh, that’s rich. Words are wind.

      I’m amazed at how often he has repeated the same things mentioned in this interview over the last 5 years.

      Interesting comment he made on his notablog the other day. He said he is familiar with the outline of S6 but has not read/seen the scripts. :/ Really? I guess I understand that comment only if he is absolutely focused on finishing TWoW in the near term, and if the divergence is significant enough that he can’t be distracted by it.

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    3. “Majoring in journalism taught him to be a more succinct writer”

      In the immortal words of Tormund Giantsbane: HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR!

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    4. I’m sure I’ve read another interview recently where he calls Joffrey a bully. Personally, I think that descriptor is oddly mild. Bullies don’t shoot cats to death with a crossbow just for the fun of it, amongst other things. Joff’s psychotic.

      Interesting comments re knowing the broad strokes of the story and the end for most of the characters . Sounds like plenty of wriggle room to continue gardening, I’m starting to think the books and show may end quite differently despite the different roads to same castle talk, GRRM will still be merrily gardening long after D&D finish GOT.

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    5. I Dream of Spring:
      I’m sure I’ve read another interview recently where he calls Joffrey a bully.Personally, I think that descriptor is oddly mild. Bullies don’t shoot cats to death with a crossbow just for the fun of it, amongst other things.Joff’s psychotic.

      Just want to be clear…I don’t think bullying is mild, bullying is very serious. What I’m trying to say is that Joff’s behavior goes beyond bullying into the realm of deeply disturbing.

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    6. Post number 3 -I think I misread what George said about Joffrey and bullies, please ignore everything I said in my previous 2 posts about it (though I do remember him calling Joffrey a bully in another interview). Clearly I need sleep and shouldn’t have switched my phone back on for one last look at WotW before bed! Apologies!

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    7. I have to say I can kinda see his point. Joffrey was a little shit (and then some), but when you really strip it all back, the kid had nobody to hold him to account for his actions (except for Bob, who was way too heavy handed). His Mother let him do whatever the hell he liked, and his “father” never paid any attention whatsoever to him other than beating him and certainly seemed to have no real affection for him. Many of his truly repellant acts seem to be attempts to get Bobs attention (perhaps even approval). These factors, combined with an instilled sense of entitlement and far from perfect genetic makeup, makes a pretty messy cocktail.

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    8. Hodors Bastard: Oh, that’s rich. Words are wind.

      I’m amazed at how often he has repeated the same things mentioned in this interview over the last 5 years.

      Interesting comment he made on his notablog the other day. He said he is familiar with the outline of S6 but has not read/seen the scripts. :/ Really? I guess I understand that comment only if he is absolutely focused on finishing TWoW in the near term, and if the divergence is significant enough that he can’t be distracted by it.

      Yeah it’s probably a good idea he doesen’t read it or perhaps even watch it, as events in the show can distract from what he fledgingly has in his mind or when he is writing a sequence he might start to think about what happened in the show in such a way as to have an effect

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    9. Stargaryen:
      Succinct, hahaha. Imagine if he wasn’t.

      I know… This from a guy who writes (or gardens) 1000-page novels…

      I write as a hobby, never intending to publish anything, so it’s all right for me to have a dozen or so different but intertwined stories I keep going back to and tweaking and changing, have been doing that for the past 20-odd years. So I kind of understand what GRRM’s problem is.

      This makes me hope he doesn’t read/watch the show because he might really like some idea D&D had, and go back and scrap a lot of what he’s written to incorporate that change… I’m beginning to think he’ll have trouble finishing in seven books, if ever…

      I love the books, just wish GRRM would get them done! A bit more self-discipline, perhaps?

      Also, have to have a look at that app. Has anybody got it yet?

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    10. Heh. Martin’s comment on his blog.

      He was asked if he will finish ADOS before the show ends. He said only if the show has 10 seasons..

      I Dream of Spring,

      I completly disagree with this for a number of reasons.

      First: Martin himself doesn’t have complete freedom, he can’t write whatever he wants, he is still bound by the other 5 books he wrote. He can’t just throw away the forshadowing, the hanging guns,…etc.

      Second: At this point I’m sure that Martin knows as much as DD know of the ending. Like he said, he isn’t the kind of writer too plan every single detail, but like he also said, he always knew how the ending will be in broad strokes.

      For example: If Dany unites the khalasars and ends us queen of westeros, she will be this in both mediums. The struggles, the moral questions, the events, may differ but the ending will be the same.

      Like her marrying Hizdhar, the events that lead to it are a bit different but she still marries him.
      If Bran will stay forever in that cave, he’ll stay there in both mediums. The visions he has may be different, and he may have different interactions with the supporting characters, but he’s faith will be the same.

      If Jon ends being king in the north, he’ll be king in the north in both mediums. Same if he ends being LC for life. The events, the struggles he will face, may be different but the outcome will be the same.

      The only place that I agree different endings are possible, is with secondary/tertiary characters, like Gilly for example or Missandai and GW and so on.

      But I’m confident that for the main characters, the ending will very much be the same.

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    11. Ghosts Lunch: Interesting comment he made on his notablog the other day. He said he is familiar with the outline of S6 but has not read/seen the scripts. :/ Really? I guess I understand that comment only if he is absolutely focused on finishing TWoW in the near term, and if the divergence is significant enough that he can’t be distracted by it.

      I remember that now. Seems odd. I think through season 3 or 4? he consulted with the show runners, on more than casting, on a season. He does meet with the showrunners at least before the premiere of a season, I am sure they talk about next season. I guess so too when he was at the Emmys this year.
      I am sure he watched season 5 from the few comments he has made about it.

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    12. “I imagine that one day I’ll go on the Internet and see the headline ‘Where Are They Now? Do you remember George R.R. Martin? He was famous once upon a time.’ ”

      This will never happen. With our luck, it’ll probably be: Where are they now? Do you remember GRRM, the author who sadly passed away before his magnum opus was completed, leaving untold numbers of fans in anguish? The world will never know the true ending of his book series, and must content themselves with how the TV version ended the story.

      Please Mr. Martin, try to find a way to write faster and get everything completed…..

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    13. Mihnea,

      Yeah agreed. The ending for all the major characters will be more or less the same, in both mediums. If we ever get an ending to the book series. I have a lot of respect for Martin’s writing, but I am not at all confident we will get a seventh book.

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    14. Seeing people saying, in various ways “GRMM better finish my precious story before he dies!” always makes me sad for the human race. “GRRM is not your bitch.”- Neil Gaiman

      I really wish I could go to those locations! That app sounds cool!

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    15. Brian,

      It’s obvious you don’t have a clue what writing is about.
      And especially in this case of a masterpiece in modern literature.
      Putting the letters on the paper is the least of the work.

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    16. I must say I am beyond expecting to finish the books before I die….or he dies…whichever comes first. I love the show, but reading is a passion of mine and I’d really like to finish the books but I’d rather not expect I will and be pleasantly surprised if can.

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    17. I Dream of Spring,

      In a medieval fantasy world with no one telling him what he did was wrong… shooting crossbows at cats was likely considered a enlightened little hobby, maybe more humane than drowning the poor things, which is what people used to do.

      Why would you consider him a psychopath, at least in the books because of that specifically? It’s not like he was privileged with our modern knowledge of animal behavior and empathy. Joffery really wanted attention and approval from his father… very human of him.

      Now Ramsey is a psychopath. 🙂

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    18. At this point, I’m fine with having the show ending only. Having a resolution of some sort is better than having no resolution at all in my mind. If Martin finishes the series, that will be great…but I’m not expecting it nor depending on it to be satisfied with the story. I’ve always like the show as well and I never cared which medium gave me the ending first.

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    19. ladywolfsbane:

      In a medieval fantasy world with no one telling him what he did was wrong… shooting crossbows at cats was likely considered a enlightened little hobby, maybe more humane than drowning the poor things, which is what people used to do.

      From the way other characters react to it, it’s clearly not considered an “enlightened hobby”. The scene is clearly GRRM alluding to a now-outdated stereotype about burgeoning serial killers.

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    20. Tootie:
      Hodors Bastard,
      The word succinct does not mean fast, people! Get a dictionary out!

      Uhh…Thanks for pointing out the obvious. I did not mean “fast” in the least with my comment. If you read the books, you would understand that “succinct” does not represent his storytelling in the least. GRRM has often been criticized for being overzealous in his descriptions and repetitive, which is quite the contrast to “succinct.”

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    21. sj4iy,

      Agreed. I honestly think it will take George eight books to finish, so whilst he has fair chance of finishing seven books I can’t see him finishing an eighth. Some people think he will speed up as he reaches the end, but I doubt it. If anything he is likely to slow down as he tries to fit the pieces of the puzzle together and (understandably) he gets older.

      A lot of people thought that TWOW would be out by now, but it isn’t, and he has spent five years writing it. The delay on publishing AFFC was blamed on the abandoned five year gap, the delay for ADWD was blamed on the Meereenese know. I wonder what the excuse will be this time?

      Look, he can take as long as he pleases, and I will read the result whenever it comes out, but he has no one to blame but himself if he fails to finish the series. Anyone who blames D&D/HBO for spoiling the ending is looking at the wrong culprit.

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    22. lyanna_Targaryen:
      Seeing people saying, in various ways “GRMM better finish my precious story before he dies!” always makes me sad for the human race. “GRRM is not your bitch.”- Neil Gaiman

      I really wish I could go to those locations! That app sounds cool!

      Duplicate post. See below.

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    23. lyanna_Targaryen:
      Seeing people saying, in various ways “GRMM better finish my precious story before he dies!” always makes me sad for the human race. “GRRM is not your bitch.”- Neil Gaiman

      I really wish I could go to those locations! That app sounds cool!

      It does not make me sad. It makes me want to bang everyone before we all cease to exist.

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    24. Sean C.: From the way other characters react to it, it’s clearly not considered an “enlightened hobby”.The scene is clearly GRRM alluding to a now-outdated stereotype about burgeoning serial killers.

      The torture and willful killing of small animals is NOT an “outdated stereotype about burgeoning serial killers.” There is a very well-established link that serial killers frequently start out with animals at a younger age. Why do you think the FBI now has a database on people who are accused of animal cruelty? https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2016/february/tracking-animal-cruelty

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    25. I noticed GRRM was feeling froggy when blogging about Jaime and Brienne in mortal danger. Remember when everyone used to get excited about that?

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    26. Boojam: I remember that now. Seems odd. I think through season 3 or 4? he consulted with the show runners, on more than casting, on a season. He does meet with the showrunners at least before the premiere of a season, I am sure they talk about next season. I guess so too when he was at the Emmys this year.
      I am sure he watched season 5 from the few comments he has made about it.

      I seem to recall hearing in earlier seasons that GRRM reviewed the scripts he didn’t write and gave them notes. (Maybe it was in the Charles Dance-narrated GOT featurette released before Season 4?) He’s also made comments in the past to the effect of having complained about things in the scripts and the showrunners overruling him.

      If GRRM hasn’t even seen any of the scripts, though…it’s going to be an interesting season. Brace yourselves.

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    27. It’s just my opinion but…..I’m very nervous about the show. …I think it s going way too Hollywood in season 6…
      I hope I’m wrong really
      ..
      my other concern is the show spoiling the book. …I mean reading the book and watching is still fun …coz then you get to see it the way it played it on your mind when you visualised it….and how it looks when you see it with your eyes. …its more fun and we are quite used to doing it..Thanks to so many book to movie adaptations. ..
      I have never read a book which has been adapted from a tv show. …although it’s different with got and the book but having seen things on TV and trying to read the same thing will not be fun.,.
      I don’t know how good this idea is ,,…but I really hope Martin does his own things without caring what goes on the show, ..and if feels that some story doesn’t make sense even change it in the books ….and I think I will be okay if the show and the book have very different endings. ….

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    28. The app is kind of nice, useful for orienting as to where we are in a particular episode. Esp like the panoramic views though a bit shakey on my not so smart phone.

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    29. Hodors Bastard,

      Your original comment contained a complaint that he’s repeated himself in public over the years. Nothing to do with his writing.

      I don’t find him wordy at all in his writing, nor the least repetitive. Succinct means clear and precise, which George definitely is. In fact, there are lots of places I’d like description, I would expect description, and there is none – George hardly ever describes tone of voice, look on the character’s faces as they converse, and gestures are scantly described as well. He sometimes describes the setting but not always. He’s succinct in my books….

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    30. Sean C.,

      The other posted described Joffery as psychotic. I disagreed.

      But a potential future serial killer? Oh totally, Joffery demonstrated loads of potential for that! He DID that, he got Ned Stark killed! Very obvious (and not outdated) parallel. But he wasn’t psychotic about it…

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    31. Tootie: Your original comment contained a complaint that he’s repeated himself in public over the years. Nothing to do with his writing.

      You’re correct. That is why I included that thought in a separate paragraph. 3 different thoughts, 3 different paragraphs.

      A complaint? No. I happen to enjoy his writing, especially his detailed PoV mental observations (like Brienne’s maddening journey through the levels of Westeros Hell in AFfC, Cersei’s continual delusions, even during her WoS, Tyrion’s inebriated “wherever whores go” ponderings, …etc). His descriptions of unique cultural idiosyncrasies and subjective trauma often leap off the page and grab me, sending cold shivers through my body as I read. I often read his chapters with a map and a kindle search function at the ready to remind me of related characters and events. His novels require energy and research! I don’t mind his extensive descriptions of feasts and torture either…but I’ve never thought of his writing as succinct.

      For some reason, I relate succinct and brevity, neither of which I associate with GRRM’s excellent writing.

      But I am happy you enjoy his work as well. Ever read a Thomas Harris novel (Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, Red Dragon,…)? I think those works are succinct. Can fantasy authors really, truly, madly, deeply be succinct?

      Cheers!

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    32. Fienix:
      “I imagine that one day I’ll go on the Internet and see the headline ‘Where Are They Now? Do you remember George R.R. Martin? He was famous once upon a time.’ ”

      This will never happen.With our luck, it’ll probably be:Where are they now?Do you remember GRRM, the author who sadly passed away before his magnum opus was completed, leaving untold numbers of fans in anguish?The world will never know the true ending of his book series, and must content themselves with how the TV version ended the story.

      Please Mr. Martin, try to find a way to write faster and get everything completed…..

      If he did die, his notes and outlines would surely be made public, so we *would* know where it had been heading.

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    33. pras: having seen things on TV and trying to read the same thing will not be fun

      I watched most of S1 marathon style before catching up towards the end when it aired. Every time I flipped to HBO, it was Dany’s rape in front of her eggs scene & I thought what kind of stupid crap is this?! I read the books after S2 and watching it first ruined reading book 1. It was boring & I didn’t think I’d make it to the end. The show followed the book almost verbatim.

      Watching unsullied is definitely the best viewing experience, but you have to sacrifice searching the web & discussing it while it’s popular. Avoiding spoilers is a horrible experience. So, I sacrificed the agony & ecstasy of viewing unsullied to hang with all of you, read theories, search images, etc., because when the show ends, pop culture will move on.

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