Deadlines scare George Raymond Richard Martin.
Which is obvious if you know anything about how long it’s been since he’s promised The Winds of Winter. The Game of Thrones T.V. show has now surpassed the book series and it’s really because George struggles with deadlines. (Which is ironic for a man with a degree in Journalism.)
To be fair, he’s creating the T.V. show for a very different audience than the books.
If you’re looking for something new from George, there’s plenty of older material that isn’t from A Song of Ice and Fire. George has written detective novels, vampire noir novels, sci-fi, and edited dozens of collections.
Although George is most known for his Fantasy novels, he started out writing sci-fi. If you dig deep enough, you can find some of George’s work in superhero fanzines. He was an avid comic book reader and was always found at a comic book convention, even when he wasn’t a published author yet.
George’s first published works were sci-fi short stories that were published in Galaxy and Analog. His first novels were sci-fi as well: Dying of the Light and Windhaven. Then he tried his hand at Vampire literature. Fevre Dream was a mild success in 1982. It was illustrated and turned into a 10-part graphic novel in 2010.
Then George tried detective fiction.
How it Nearly Ended in the Middle
Armageddon Rag‘s commercial failure almost had George convinced he should give up being a writer. Thankfully, he tried his hand at screenwriting. In the 80’s and early 90’s, he wrote scripts for the Twilight Zone and The Beauty and the Beast. It’s a good thing that George learned how to work through failure. There was a sci-fi show – Max Headroom- that he wrote for, but none of his scripts made it to air.
It was after his time with The Beauty and the Beast that he started to write A Game of Thrones. George didn’t stop writing for print while he worked in television. Since 1987, he’s been editing the Wild Cards series.
Meanwhile, George Found His Stride as an Editor
It’s no secret the George R. R. Martin is a massive nerd. Sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book super heroes have always been a part of his life. Naturally, he was into table top role playing games at the height of its trendiness in the 80’s. One game George organized for some fellow sci-fi writers in New Mexico got to be so intricate and engrossing that the authors wondered if it could translate into a book.
Thus Wild Cards was conceived. There are 23 volumes in the Wild Cards series so far. (The most recent being High Stakes, coming out in August.) George has edited and contributed to every single volume. Each volume is a collection of short stories from different authors. All of the stories are set in the same universe.
In Wild Cards, an alien virus is released in 1946 and 90% of those infected died. The majority of the survivors were severely deformed and disabled, while a fraction of the survivors gained super-human powers.
Authors unpack the fallout of this catastrophe together, sharing characters and telling different stories surrounding the same events.
George was editing and writing Wild Cards while working for CBS and ABC. Although the series has changed publishers several times, it’s endured and even prospered during George’s writing droughts.
Aside from Wild Cards, George has edited at least nine other anthologies. He seems to have an eye for good stories. He contributed to most, if not all of the anthologies he edited.
George R. R. Martin – Writer AND TV Producer
In 1991, George decided writing books was better than writing scripts. He started A Game of Thrones, but it wasn’t published until 1996. Long phases of writing / editing / rewriting are in the DNA of A Song of Ice and Fire. Plus a lot has happened in the 20 years since the series was first published. As most know, it’s now a major HBO TV series.
Ironically, the novel that George quit the TV business for lead him back to TV and served up his biggest commercial success. Is it any wonder that the TV show has now outpaced the books? For nine years George was screenwriting and producing. Now he gets to be back in that seat where he’s essentially an editor collecting ideas from other screenwriters. But it’s his story.
[George talks about his disdain for deadlines here.]